How many times have you looked at your food and thought, ‘what did it take for this to end up on my fork?’ Chances are, almost never. Most of us devour breakfast on the way to work, plow through lunch at our desk, and finish the day with dinner in front of the TV, exhausted. Besides, food is meant to be enjoyed. Pondering the impact it’s having on our health or the planet is a bit of a downer, right?
Well, these startling facts might make you think twice before you take your next bite...
1. Eating more vegetables can help solve erectile dysfunction. According to Dr. Neal Barnard, many of his patients who switched to a plant-based diet have since ditched their Viagra pills and reactivated their sex-life. Who knew kale could be so sexy!?
‘Viagra is simply a pharmaceutical that opens arterial flow. In other words, it counteracts the effects of meat, cheese, and eggs,’ says Barnard.
2. It takes 660 gallons of water to make one hamburger (LA Times). If that sounds like a lot of water, it is! For anyone taking military showers or avoiding almonds to save water, swapping your hamburger for a veggie burger is a healthy and easy way to save a lot of water.
3. Factory farms raise 99.9 percent of chickens, 99 percent of turkeys, 95 percent of pigs, and 78 percent of cattle currently sold in the United States (HuffPo). So the next time you see packaging or labels that show the animals happily grazing in wide-open fields, chances are it’s a bunch of bull.
4. Americans consume more than a billion pounds of shrimp annually (Guardian), including nearly half of Thailand's yearly production. Did you know that a shockingly high percentage of this shrimp is peeled by slaves? The AP reports that the U.S. State Department has previously tied seafood processed in this way to 55 countries on six continents, including major suppliers to the U.S. Ninety percent of the people who peel shrimp globally are women. The next time someone offers you a shrimp cocktail, you’ll know what to do.
5. According to a report by the FDA, approximately 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals. This should scare anyone expecting to get sick (that would be all of us), as new ‘superbugs’ are growing resistant to our antibiotics, leaving us defenseless against these twenty-first-century killers.
'Antibiotics are routinely fed to farm animals – not to treat infections – but to allow animals to subsist in inhumane conditions on factory farms and to fatten them up on less food. This practice allows food suppliers to fatten up their bottom line, but it's putting millions of lives at risk for superbug infections. The good news is that consumers have the power to change this practice. If we all make the commitment to buy meat that hasn't been raised on routine antibiotics, this practice will come to a grinding halt,' says Vani Hani, Creator of FoodBabe.com and New York Times Best Selling Author of The Food Babe Way.
6. In the future, your meat might come from a biotech lab, not a farm.
7. Surveys find 43 percent of salmon sold in the U.S is mislabeled. To put it another way, it’s not actually salmon, but some other kind of fish, dyed pink to look like salmon. I'd don't kn0w about you, but I prefer to know what I'm eating.
8. Meat-heavy diets create more climate change than all cars and planes, combined. So if you’re eating an in-and-out burger while driving your Tesla, don’t rush to pat yourself on the back for being a good citizen.
9. The World Health Organization has classified processed meats – including ham, salami, sausages and hot dogs – as a Group 1 carcinogen. In other words, they lead to cancer. Avoiding them can help you and the planet.
10. More than half of the grain grown in the U.S., and nearly 40 percent worldwide, is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans. The U.S. could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat. Or, if those grains were exported, it would boost the U.S. trade balance by $80 billion a year. (Cornell)
11. Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other aquatic creatures whose deaths are so great they can only be measured in tonnes. (Animal Equality) These numbers are staggering. For context, there are approximately 7 billion people on earth.
'We are emotionally disconnected from the plight of farm animals, yet we couldn’t be more commercially connected to the mass mistreatment of animals because we buy the products,” says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. 'We have a duty to do better.'
Few things in life give us more satisfaction than food. I remember how nice it was to eat my favorite meals in mindless bliss. However, there are serious consequences to the decisions we make each day -- especially when it comes to food. If we’re serious about tackling climate change, water scarcity, human health, and animal welfare, we’re going to have to start pausing before we take the next bite...