Let alone the manure found in burger patty — and the consequences of it such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. Coli) — and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), exces- sive meat and dairy consumption directly and indirectly contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. A recent study in Harvard conducted by Pan et al. 1 — an outcomes from more than 37,000 men from the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and more than 83,000 women from the Harvard Nurses Health Study who were followed up for almost 3 million person-years — shows that consumption of both processed and unprocessed red meat is associated with an increased risk of premature mortality from all causes as well as from cardiovascular disease and cancer. In a related study by Pan et al., red meat consumption was also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. 2

The health risks from climate change are the topic of increasing research attention and policy development. According to by Lancet, the most respected peer-reviewed general medical journals, climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. ‘Health risks result from physical hazards, temperature extremes, effects on air quality, altered patterns of transmission of infectious diseases, and effects on food yields. Population displacement and conflict are also likely, because of various factors including food insecurity, desertification, sea-level rise, and increased extreme weather events.’ 3

Animal Diseases Outbreak and Food Security

It is clear that the more we rely on animal products, the higher the chance to risk the food se- curity. Factory farming is leading to health problems in the animals that are so closely packed together and pressures to cut costs are resulting in shortcuts being taken. The increase in phenomena like mad cow disease and aphtae epizooticae (foot-and-mouth or hoof-and-mouth disease) epidemic, largely starting in Britain but also seen in other places around the world is also a result of taking ‘short cuts’ in agriculture/food production. 4

The world is using more antibiotics than ever that treats the intestinal infections that are rou- tine in closely confined farm animals, and that calories that normally would have been con- sumed by the immune system were going instead to make bigger muscles and bones as much as 50%. 5 Because many livestock farmers still routinely dose their animals with antibiotics, pathogens such as salmonella are becoming more resistance to antibiotics, thus harder to kill. 6 Decades of heavy subtheraputic antibiotic use by livestock producers, which now accounts for nearly half of all antibiotics used worldwide, has produced numerous new strains of bacteria that are immune to entire classes of antibiotics, which means that some of the most common and inexpensive antibiotics can no longer treat humans infected by these resistant food-borne pathogens. 7 The better answer to the pathogens that are gaining more and more resistance seem to be less concentrated production, and more importantly, less consumption rather than breakthrough, stronger antibiotics.


  1. A Pan, Q Sun, AM Bernstein, MB Schulze, JE Manson, MJ Stampfer, WC Willett & FB Hu, Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies, American Medical Association, doi: 10.1001/archintern- med.2011.2287.
  2. A Pan, Q Sun, AM Bernstein, MB Schulze, JE Manson, WC Willett & FB Huh, Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011;94(4):1088-1096.
  3. AJ McMichael, JW Powles, CD Butler & R Uauy, Food, livestock production, energy, climate change and health, Lancet, 2007; 370: 1253-63, DOI:10.1016/501406736(07)61256-2.
  4. E Schossler, Fast Food Nation; The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2001, pp.197-202.
  5. P Roberts, The End of Food, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, New York, pp. 3-5.
  6. Ibid., P. xvi.
  7. Ibid., p. 185.