The Hidden Costs of Meat

Archive Article Published on December 6, 2008 by SocProf

I have blogged about this before as well: the general lack of concern in our rich societies with the actual costs of our eating habits, especially the enormous consumption of meat as social, health and environmental issue. Here is another case that delineates extremely well all the global connections pertaining to meat consumption and the range of social problems related to it… such as burning down ecosystems to make room for cattle raising or to grow the crops to feed cattles.

So, here again, we use the periphery to grow crops that will be fed to livestock and cattle that will end up as meat in Western plates, as in the case of Paraguay.


The numbers are staggering just for the Uk.

Indeed, as upper classes become richer in developing countries, they tend to also adopt Western food tastes. We already know this is the case in China. This means, of course, more meat demand, and therefore, more crop growth specifically for that purpose.

The social consequences for the growing countries are devastating.

And this is not limited to South America:

The agribusiness sector denies any connection, of course. But what we see here is a global unsustainable food chain that leaves in its trail another chain: that of social consequences of diet in the rich countries, based on the use of the periphery to feed not the rich countries, but the animals whose meat is a major part of the (very unhealthy) diet of rich consumers. But this is a zero sum game where the lifestyle of the richest parts of the world are literally based on starving and poisoning the periphery.

But it is one of the major consequences of social privileges: that the negative consequences of our lifestyle are hidden from our view. The extent of lying and denial is amazing: one would wish for true labeling that would reveal the full and true cost of every piece of meat bought in supermarkets.