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Veggie Month March 2000
Posted 15 February 2000
5 FACTS ABOUT THE COST OF BURGER CULTURE
In the UK alone, more than 850 million animals are slaughtered for food every year. Most of them are reared on factory farms where they are denied fresh air and proper exercise. In modern slaughterhouses, hundreds of animals can pass along a conveyer belt every hour.
2. Feeding the World
World meat consumption quadrupled from 44 million tonnes in 1950 to 195 million tonnes in 1995. Rather than helping to reduce world hunger, this massive expansion reduces the chances of feeding a growing population because compared with vegetable, fruit or grain production, meat production is grossly inefficient in terms of its consumption of both water and arable land.
3. Human health
Meat burgers on sale in fast food outlets and supermarket freezer cabinets are typically high in saturated fat, salt and animal products - three ingredients nutritionists advise us to reduce in our diets. In a detailed summary of the relationship between diet and cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund concluded that 'diets containing substantial amounts of red meat probably increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The panel also notes that such diets possibly increase the risk of pancreatic, breast, prostate and renal cancers'.
4. Environmental degradation
The felling of forests for cattle ranching to supply certain burger brands and other meat is one of the main causes of rainforest destruction. More than 20 million hectares of Latin America's tropical forests have been converted to cattle pasture since 1970. The loss of such forests wipes out individual species, destroys ecosystems, radically alters climates and contributes toward desertification and soil erosion.
5. Targeting the young
In 1998, the combined UK advertising budget of McDonald's and Burger King amounted to over £57 million. Through this massive expenditure on advertising, as well as sponsorship and entertainment tie-ins, the burger industry ensures that its hard-sell message reaches every aspect of our daily lives.