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Bryana Bouck

Professor Dewey

ENG 101

16 April 2019

Social Issue: Animal Rights and the Meat Industry

As the human population grows larger, so does the meat industry, and so does the amount

of overly-medicated animals in big industry farm factories. Before the rapid growth of

technology in today’s society, people relied heavily on livestock for food and other necessities.

However, the consumption of meat has merely become an outdated tradition that causes more

harm than good. The animal rights movement is an important topic that pushes the meat industry

away from the killing of animals and towards the production of artificial meat, as the current

industry causes a negative impact on the welfare of animals, the environment, and human


The difference of animal suffering between the slaughtering of animals and the

production of artificial meat is very clear. Yet, many people still choose to consume what they

know best: real meat products. Many people are unaware of exactly what goes on behind the

scenes of a slaughterhouse, such as animals being forced into small pens, fed an unholy amount

of antibiotics, and other inhumane, unsanitary practices. Artificial meat, on the other hand, can

be grown in a lab, free from the suffering of real animals. Non-invasive techniques can even be

used to extract growth cells, such as those from a bird’s feather (Rabbie). With these types of

methods, no animals would be required to die in order for a meal to be served. Better yet, due to
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its controlled environment, lab-grown meat is estimated to have the same type of nutrients, if not

more, compared to real meat.

The most detrimental impact of the current meat industry is the effect it has on the

environment. According to an online article by Stanford, the beef, pork and poultry industries

emit a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses. This can

ultimately could cause wide-spread ecosystem degradation if the situation does not get resolved

quickly. As mentioned in the same Stanford report, ​“​much of the world's pastureland has been

degraded by grazing or feed production, and that many forests have been clear-cut to make way

for additional farmland. Feed production also requires intensive use of water, fertilizer,

pesticides and fossil fuels”. Farm animals are not the only ones affected by this. Due to incidents

such as the ones listed, it is estimated that 137 species of animals and plants are lost every day

(Brasier). To make matters worse, the meat industry is considered to be one of the main causes

of deforestation. A quote by ​Priyakshi Sarma, an editor for ​One Green Planet​, ​states that,

“an estimated 70 percent of deforestation in the Amazon basin can be attributed to cattle

ranching. Using these numbers, cattle ranching in the Amazon has resulted in the loss of

an area larger than the state of Washington.”

This is a devastating amount of land lost in our ecosystem to man-made causes that can easily be

prevented. This is where lab-grown meat surpasses the real thing. “​A 2011 study found that clean

meat produces 78 to 96 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions, uses 99 percent less land and

between 82 and 92 percent less water” (Rabbie).

Though, nature and wildlife are not the only living creatures being affected by the meat

industry. Proper healthcare of humans are not being met with the industry’s standard. Many meat
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companies try to cut corners by using the least amount of sanitary procedures possible. This

results in farm animals being kept in small cages for long periods of time. Since genetic

engineering is often used for better product, the animals can be nearly identical in their genetic

makeup, resulting in new diseases that form quickly and spread easily to the humans who eat it.

According to an article by​ ​Jim Motavali:

“The modern broiler chicken house, [...] is no quaint little farm building, but a poultry

metropolis holding up to 70,000 genetically similar birds in close confinement. [...] "Any

stress exacerbates the presence of microbes in chickens. And dirty water, dirty food, all

of these things have been shown to increase the presence of pathogenic microorganisms,

which spread much more quickly through flocks that are essentially clones of each

other." In March, ​Consumer Reports revealed that its own testing had found

Campylobacter in 63 percent of randomly selected chickens, and Salmonella in 13

percent. Only 29 percent of the birds tested were free of either bacteria. Almost all were

infected with generic E. coli.”

Unfortunately, animal-borne diseases are not the only concerns arising from meat consumption.

The antibiotics fed to the animals can potentially cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria to infect the

humans who eat it. “​About 13 million pounds [of antibiotics] a year are fed to chickens, cows,

and pigs to make them grow faster or to compensate for unsanitary conditions. That's about four

times the amount used to treat sick people”, said Khoo in the article ​The Fast Food Industry

Encourages the Overuse of Antibiotics in Farm Animals,​ ​“These bacteria can make

food-poisoning episodes last longer or recovery from surgery less certain. As bacteria become

more resistant, people can no longer be sure that prescribed drugs will actually work”. This can
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be especially harmful to those with lower immune systems, such as the elderly and children.

With lab grown meat, however, these issues would be nonexistent because it would merely

involve an extraction of cells from a healthy, non-medicated animal. There would be no need for

the use of antibiotics, as the meat would be grown with only healthy bacteria (Rabbie).

In conclusion, it is urgent that society pushes the meat industry away from slaughtering

real animals, and more towards the production of artificial meat products, as doing so will cause

far less animal welfare, environmental, and human health issues. The push for cultural traditions

make this harder to happen. However, the more serious that the animal rights movement is taken

amongst the general population, the more likely it is that eating meat will be a thing of the past in

future generations.
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Works Cited

Brasier, Zachery. “10 Negative Effects The Meat Industry Has On The World.”

Listverse​, 25 Nov. 2015,

Motavali, Jim. "Factory-Farmed, Meat-Based Diets May Cause a Food Scarcity

Crisis." ​Factory Farming​, edited by Debra A. Miller, Greenhaven Press, 2010. Current

Controversies. ​Opposing Viewpoints in Context​,

xid=3b505f4b. Accessed 6 Apr. 2019. Originally published as "The Trouble with Meat,",​ 2009.

Khoo, Michael. "The Fast Food Industry Encourages the Overuse of Antibiotics

in Farm Animals." ​Fast Food,​ edited by Tracy Brown Collins, Greenhaven Press, 2005.

At Issue. ​Opposing Viewpoints in Context​,

xid=4e8de3e1. Accessed 8 Apr. 2019. Originally published as "Want Drugs with Those

Fries?" ​​, 2003.

“New Report Reveals the Environmental and Social Impact of the 'Livestock

Revolution'.” ​Stanford University​, 16 Mar. 2010,
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Sarma, Priyakshi. “Beef Production Is Killing the Amazon Rainforest.” ​One

Green Planet​, One Green Planet, 2012,


Rabbie, Passant. “The Truth about Lab-Grown Meat.” ​Scienceline,​ 16 Jan. 2019,