It is very pleasant nowadays in Coimbatore. We were standing atop Maruthamalai Hills after the darshan of Lord Muruga. A wonderful sight of Coimbatore from there. Our conversation followed.
He: The other day you told that you will tell me about beef eating and cow slaughter
Me: It is good that you reminded me about that. Cow is considered sacred in Sanathic tradition. As pork eating is forbidden in Islam, beef is not encouraged in this tradition.
He: But how can a tradition decide on what one eats?
Me: This is not about an individual choice. It is about environmental and global warming.
He: Is It? Are you saying this to defend a tradition against individual choice.
Me: No, this not about defending. Beef and other animal product consumption will leave a greater Carbon footprint than vegan diet. Even though what I say may seem controversial, you will see that it too has merit.
He: Please continue.
Me: Three years back I came across an article in The Guardian News paper. I think it was in July 2014. Eating less red meat will cut carbon emission more than people giving up cars. Do you know that?
He: How is that?
Me: Beef production requires 28 times more land and 11 times more water than that for producing pork or chicken and emits five times more climate warming emissions. When compared to staple food production like potatoes, wheat or rice it is far more extreme. The effect of producing per calorie of beef requires 160 times more land than producing these staple foods and emits 11 times more green house gases.
He: Kindly elaborate on that.
Me: In most part of the world cattle, especially cow are fed on grains grown on land. As beef consumption becomes a daily routine, then more cattle has to be fed and more land has to be taken for the cow feed grain cultivation. With commercialization of beef market and growth as marketing mantra, every year more and more land is required for beef production. This will also exponentially increase the need for water both for cattle feed production and for cattle consumption. You know agriculture is the cause of 15% of global warming emissions and with more and more land taken for agriculture the global warming will increase. Experts in this field say that by 2050 there will be 2 billion more human mouths to feed. So it is better to fall back on the primary source of food, that is, agriculture rather than going to secondary sources like beef.
He: Is it so!
Me: The US and Europe alike are using so much of their land in highly inefficient livestock farming systems, while so much good quality cropland is being used to grow animal feeds rather than human food. A study of tens of thousands of British people’s daily eating habits shows that meat lovers’ diets cause double the climate-warming emissions of vegetarian diets.
I give you what I came across in the article in The Gaurdian as I mentioned earlier.The study of British people’s diets conducted by University of Oxford scientists , found that meat-rich diets – defined as more than 100g per day – resulted in 7.2kg of carbon dioxide emissions. In contrast, both vegetarian and fish-eating diets caused about 3.8kg of CO2 per day, while vegan diets produced only 2.9kg. The research analysed the food eaten by 30,000 meat eaters, 16,000 vegetarians, 8,000 fish eaters and 2,000 vegans.
The journal on the proceedings of The national Academy of Science of US has also brought out thoughts in these lines. The bulk of what cow eats goes as dung and only a minute part of what it consumes goes into the blood stream. When compared the amount of land, water and nitrogenous fertilizers used in cattle feed grain production,
The returns are negligible and also leaves a big environmental foot print.
He: I thought that meat eating is a personal matter and people who are against beef are taking without basis.
Me: I don’t know whether they are opposing cow slaughter on these basis. But I am sure that our ancestors had an idea about the disaster that it may cause. This I say because I had heard old people talking, that cow slaughter will make a country barren or a desert.
The developed countries are those who are harming environment more with their life styles. Now it is catching up with fast growing economies like China & India.
Countries of the west are highly subsidizing agri. This is also true for beef. If they stop these subsidizing, automatically beef consumption will come down and land can be used for more efficient human food grain production rich in protein.
Apart from these materialistic view on cow slaughter, there is another ethical view on that.
He: Oh, What is that?
Me: Cow’s milk is the only consumable diet for new born of human and many animals. Babies who are not fortunate to have mothers milk has to solely depend on cow’s milk. So the cows ’milk is the only substitute for mothers milk. Then cow is mother of our human beings. Will any one slaughter their own mother? It is left to individuals to think!
He: It is relay convincing.
Me: Had a good chat today. Lets see tomorrow. Bye for now.