How to Win an Argument With a Meat Eater

January 18, 2011

Today my daughter came home from school with a hand-out her history teacher gave her, after he found out that her mommy eats a vegan diet. The handout is titled ‘How to win an argument with a meat eater’. It is full of interesting factoids, and is broken down by argument.

The Hunger Argument

  • Number of people worldwide who will die of starvation this year: 20 million
  • How frequently a child dies as a result of malnutrition: every 2.3 seconds
  • Number of people who could be adequately fed with the land saved if Americans reduced their meat intake by 10%: 100 million
  • Number of people who could be fed with grain and soybeans now eaten by U.S. livestock: 1.3 billion
  • Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by people: 20
  • Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 80
  • Percentage of oats grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 95
  • Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
  • Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on an acre: 40,000
  • Pounds of beef produced on an acre: 250
  • Percentage of U.S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56
  • Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of feedlot beef: 16

The Environmental Argument

  • Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
  • Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
  • Fossil fuels needed to produce a meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 3 times more
  • Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
  • Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
  • Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
  • Amount of meat U.S. imports annually from Central America: 300,000,000 pounds (let that one sink in for a minute. not only are we producing it like crazy here, we also import another 300 million pounds.)
  • Average per capita meat consumption in Central America: less than eaten by the average U.S. house cat
  • Percentage of Central American children under the age of five who are malnourished: 75
  • Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound hamburger: 55 sq ft
  • Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 species per year

The Cancer Argument

  • Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat four times a week vs. once a week: 3.8 times
  • For women who eat eggs daily vs. once a week: 2.8 times
  • For women who eat butter and cheese 3 or more times a week vs. once: 3.25 times
  • Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week vs. less than once a week: 3 times
  • Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily vs. sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times

The Natural Resources Argument

  • User of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: livestock production
  • Amount of water used in production of the average cow: sufficient to float a destroyer
  • Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of wheat: 25
  • Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of meat: 5,000
  • Cost of common hamburger if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer: $35 a pound
  • Cost of a pound of protein from beefsteak if water was no longer subsidized: $89
  • Years the world’s known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet: 13
  • Years they would last if humans no longer ate meat: 260
  • Barrels of oil imported into the U.S. daily: 6.8 million
  • Percentage of fossil fuel energy returned as food energy by the most efficient factory farming of meat: 34.5
  • Percentage returned from the least efficient plant food: 328
  • Percentage of raw materials consumed by the U.S. that is devoted to livestock production: 33
  • Percentage of raw materials consumed by the U.S. needed to produce a vegetarian diet: 2
  • Calories of fossil fuel expended to get 1 calorie of protein from beef: 78
  • Calories of fossil fuel expended to get 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2

The Cholesterol Argument

  • Number of U.S. medical schools: 125
  • Number requiring a course in nutrition: 30
  • Nutrition training received by average U.S. physician during four years in medical school: 2.5 hours
  • Most common cause of death in the U.S.: heart attack
  • How frequently a heart attack kills in the U.S.: every 45 seconds
  • Average U.S. man’s risk of death from heart attack: 50 percent
  • Risk for average U.S. man who eats no meat: 15 percent
  • Risk for average U.S. man who eats no meat, dairy or eggs: 4 percent
  • Amount you reduce risk of heart attack if you reduce consumption of meat, dairy and eggs by 10 percent: 9 percent
  • Amount you reduce risk if you reduce consumption by 50 percent: 45 percent
  • Amount you reduce risk if you eliminate these foods entirely: 90 percent
  • Average cholesterol level of people who eat a meat-centered diet: 210 mg/dl
  • Chance of dying from heart disease if you are male and your blood cholesterol level is 210 mg/dl: greater than 50 percent

The Antibiotic Argument

  • Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55
  • Percentage of Staphylococcus infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13
  • Percentage resistant in 1988: 91
  • Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: ban
  • Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support

The Pesticide Argument

  • Common belief in the U.S.: the USDA protects our health through meat inspection
  • Reality: fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues
  • Percentage of U.S. mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 99
  • Percentage of U.S. vegetarian mother’s milk: 8
  • Contamination of breast milk due to pesticides in animal products found in meat eating mothers vs. non-meat eating mothers: 35 times higher
  • Amount of Dieldrin ingested by the average breast-fed American infant: 9 times the permissible level (*Dieldrin is an insecticide that is banned in most of the world. It has been linked to Parkinson’s, breast cancer, and immune, reproductive, and nervous system damage.[1])

The Ethical Argument

  • Number of animals killed for meat per hour in the U.S.: 660,000
  • Occupation with highest turnover rate in the U.S.: slaughterhouse worker
  • Occupation with highest on-the-job injury rate in the U.S.: slaughterhouse worker  

I Googled ‘how to win an argument with a meat eater’, to see if anything would pop up, and it turns out this is taken from Diet for a New America, by John Robbins. The book is about the connection between diet, physical health, animal cruelty, and environmentalism. Robbins pulled his information from USDA and FDA reports, as well as scientific journals. The book was written back in 1987, so unfortunately many of the statistics have gotten even worse.

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References: [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieldrin

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