Meatless Monday Economics Info Session


It is Monday, a good time to revisit the “meatless” movement, the one where you take one small step at a time to a better diet. Thanks to Bibi van der Zee and colleagues at the Guardian for arranging this guide to all the good reasons to reduce or eliminate meat from the diet:

What is the true cost of eating meat?

As concerns over the huge impact on the environment, human health and animal welfare grow, what future is there for the meat industry

What are the economics of meat?

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Cattle in the Brazilian Amazon. Photograph: Rodrigo Baleia

Food and farming is one of the biggest economic sectors in the world. We are no longer in the 14th century, when as much as 76% of the population worked in agriculture – but farming still employs more than 26% of all workers globally. And that does not include the people who work along the meat supply chain: the slaughterers, packagers, retailers and chefs.

In 2016, the world’s meat production was estimated at 317m metric tons, and that is expected to continue to grow. Figures for the value of the global meat industry vary wildly from $90bn to as much as $741bn.

Although the number of people directly employed by farming is currently less than 2% in the UK, the food chain now includes the agribusiness companies, the retailers, and the entertainment sector. According to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in 2014 the food and drink manufacturing sector contributed £27bn to the economy, and employed 3.8 million people.

It is not simple to separate out the contribution that meat production makes to this – particularly globally. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states that livestock is about 40% of the global value of agricultural output and supports the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people.

What about its cultural and social importance?

Cooked meat may have been partially responsible for the large brains that characterise Homo sapiens and have put humans where we are now. Cooking made calories from meat (and from vegetables) easier to consume and absorb than in a raw form.

And the domestication of certain animals – along with the domestication of wild grains and vegetables – marked the beginning of human agricultural history in the “fertile crescent”. Throughout human history the hunting and farming of meat has been part of our stories and mythologies and some of our legal and religious systems; the fatted calf for the prodigal son; the medieval forest laws that created areas where no one but English royalty could hunt; the sacrifical sheep to mark the beginning of Eid Al-Adha; even the roasted wild boars consumed at the end of every adventure by Asterix and Obelix.

But is meat still crucial to human life? Some argue that, just because we’ve always eaten meat, that doesn’t mean we always have to. If we can get all the dietary nutrients and protein that we need elsewhere, should we?…

Read the whole story here.

5 thoughts on “Meatless Monday Economics Info Session

  1. Like most of society I was raised in a meat eating family and I ate meat for 20 years. Nowadays I have been vegetarian for over 20 years and have no cravings whatsoever. I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons then environment then health. I admit at first I did have a relapse at one point but eventually moved past it. I love vegan food, more so when it’s prepared professionally, but hey it’s all good, and I do plan to be vegan one day. Mainstream society views being a vegan as restrictive and extreme obviously as it is the ultimate opposite from what is considered normal however being vegan has its blessings and can be just as delicious and rewarding. The transition is different for everyone as you find replacements and making changes for the better. I believe animal agriculture is responsible for climate change, global warming and abnormal aggressive weather conditions we’ve experienced and I’m sure will continue to endure. Aside from the environmental and health destruction caused by consuming meat and other animal products, did you know that most animals are still fully conscious when they slaughtered and dismembered? Just picture an assembly line that operates by taking things apart. Most animals are supposed to be stunned in most cases. I’ve heard of some 300-400 animals slaughtered per hour. How are animals to be killed properly and humanely in this environment when you have faulty equipment, inexperienced workers, violent animals thrashing about and an ultimately insane hourly quota? And this is just one slaughterhouse. There is no animal who volunteers to die and give up its life. Then you have animal abuse and cruelty at the hands of slaughterhouse workers that runs rampant all over. These workers, due to the nature of their work, become desensitized and do not view these animals as living and feeling beings. There have been many cases of deliberate torture to animals by these people for absolute pleasure to get their kicks. I understand that people need jobs but people who get this type of job there’s not much good that I can see and how in the hell do they sleep at night?


    A page from my website:

    I always thought nothing wrong of Meatless Mondays until I saw this video. He makes a very wise point.

  2. Hello I posted a reply today and it is usually posted instantly can you help me as to why I don’t see it yet?

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