Let's Talk Sustainability

Yesterday’s article dealt with intentionally misleading marketing as a byproduct of demand, and the organizations in question that perpetrated this model of marketing.  This segues into the next topic of discussion:  Sustainability.

Most recently, the federal government has released new guidelines which reduced the recommended the amount of meat to be consumed by the public, particularly with respect to the environment (recommending, furthermore, that Americans eat more plant-based foods).  This advice is meant to “align both health goals and environmental aims.” The facts that are pushing these changes are associated with the rather large carbon footprint left by the livestock industry.  An attempt at tackling these issues in a manner that’s more appealing to the public is marrying environmental responsibilities (i.e. issues inherent in this carbon footprint) to public health - a smart move, especially when one considers the following heart disease facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year (or 25% of all deaths).

  • Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

  • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.  Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.


Of course, there are plenty of people that deny a link between meat and heart disease (and cancer) - but a simple Google search will yield source after source from major health organizations that claim that processed red meat consumption in higher quantities has a definitive link to heart disease (again, the #1 killer in America) as well as various forms of cancer.

This raises the following question:  What will get voracious meat-eaters to limit their consumption?  

Based on the CDC’s numbers, it’s clear that heart disease isn’t enough and considering the debate that continues over climate change, that threat isn’t doing it either. All though American meat consumption has, in fact, gone down, it needs to go down even more to line up with the government’s new recommendations, and go from there as technology and cultural tendencies change/progress.  This raises another question with regard to the alternative:  Are meat alternatives, such as veggie burgers, simply not appealing? Well, that question isn’t quite broad enough, as it seems these meat alternatives don’t solve our problems either - they’re more expensive, and not really any “greener.”  This makes solving the “meat problem” a tad more complicated, and it’s clear that the adequate solution for our compound problem is a series of steps that lead both businesses and consumers down a path of least resistance - incentivizing practices favoring sustainability and health, thereby averting disaster. 

Image source: http://eucham.eu/94-green-business-forum-embrace-sustainability


Ryan is a practicing vegetarian that writes and trains/teaches grappling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & wrestling) full-time. Ryan's goal is to educate readers about the political and environmental state of the world, and how that long-standing model of living affects the world around us. Ryan especially likes digging into what we eat, how we get said food, and the aftermath of this very large and political process.

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