Written by: Charlotte Mostert
Brian Kateman is the director and face of the documentary ‘Meat Me Halfway’. He is also the co-founder and president of the Reducetarian Foundation, an NPO which preaches the ‘reducetarian’ diet, which is the reduction of meat consumption. This diet serves to improve health, protect the environment, and spare farmed animals from cruelty. Brian has a strong allegiance to the disposal of factory farming because of all the scientific evidence with the problems in our food systems. This was a key reason for the creation of Meat Me Halfway.
“The extra carbon that we are trapping is the heat equivalent every day of 400,000 Hiroshima-sized explosions. That is enough extra heat that we have been able to melt most of the summer sea ice in the Arctic. That is enough extra heat that the world’s coral reefs are now dying at a stupendous rate. It is enough heat that cities in tropical Asia are becoming almost impossible to live in.” - Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies.
The relationship between meat consumption and anthropogenic climate change, human impact on Earth's climate. We know that many of our actions indirectly contribute to the burning of fossil fuels which releases carbon into the atmosphere. But one of the things that contribute to producing a fair amount of carbon is livestock, which contributes to 18% of the world's global warming emissions.
According to Brian Kateman, “Factory farming is when you put lots of animals in these very intense environments. And you have to have all these inputs. You have to water the feed so the feed grows, you have to feed the animals, you have to butcher them [the animals], butcher them, ship them far distances. And through this process there are results, and these results are greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse gas emissions go into the atmosphere. And through this process, the planet heats up.”
“Our earliest ancestors in Africa more than 3million years ago had a diet that was probably like that of the great apes today, largely vegetarian. Evidence from 2.5 million years ago of the butchery of mammal carcasses. So we have evidence of increasing meat-eating,” days Dr Chris Stringer, Research Leader in Human Origins.
Our ancestors coming across half-eaten mammals in food scarce times and eating them is a reasonable thought pattern, based on how high in calories, fats, and protein meat was. Providing us a concentrated source of nutrients freed up energy for us to evolve a larger brain.
“Native Americans had cyclical hunting habits, forming semi-nomadic groups that follow game. [They] certainly did not hunt more than they needed to hunt.” - Dr James McWilliams, Professor of History.
“When Europeans ran out of land or saw that their population was growing where there was not going to be enough land to raise enough food for everyone, it was one of the incentives for the ‘Age of Exploration’.” says Mark Bittman, Food Journalist.
Europeans brought domesticated animals because they were not very good hunters, they did not know the environment very well, and Europeans believed that the ability to domesticate an animal was a sign of cultural superiority. Also to remember that hunting was a sport for the elite and not something you wanted to be dependent on. Hunting for dependency was seen as savagery.
In the 1900s, 40% of the population made their living off of agriculture and by the end of the 20th century, no more than 2% of the population lived on farms. This drop is seen based on the fact that farming is an unstable way of making a living.
The Pharmaceutical industry discovered that feeding animals antibiotics, who are not sick, allowed them to pick up muscle weight, basically meat, much faster than they would have otherwise. It also prevented them from becoming sick, even if they lived in close proximity with plenty of the species. At the end of the day, this made meat cheaper for the average consumer. According to Maryn McKenna, “Within the first five years of the growth promoters being trialed, 500 000 pounds of antibiotics were being given to livestock in the US. In 2015 that number raised to 34 million pounds.”
“Carnism is the invisible belief system or ideology that conditions us to eat certain animals. Thinking of cows, pigs, and chickens as edible and other animals that we are not socially conditioned to believe to be eaten as disgusting.” says Dr Melanie Joy, President of Beyond Carnism.
We are unaware of the impact of our actions.
“23.5million Americans live in food deserts, 2 miles (3.2km) away from a supermarket. There are places where it is hard to get the ingredients for a healthy life. These areas have triple the death rate from preventable diseases.” says Olympia Ausel, Süprmarkt.
The documentary offers 3 alternatives to factory-farmed meat.
In conclusion, there is a unanimous agreement that everyone should be consuming more vegetables. To exist in a reality where there is a reduction of factory farms there must be less demand for meat. This requires every able body to reduce their animal product consumption.