Protein, Meat, Health, Environment

"I'm a 95% vegetarian. Even as a child I didn't like meat to much...I had this ugly experience with my bunny: It was served for dinner one day...)." ~ Diana Meier

"I am 100% non-meat-eater." ~ Reza Ganjavi



Mike got back from New Zealand and said too much beef production and industrial cattle farming is wrecking havoc.


Also, please see

 -- a book that quotes Reza Ganjavi as well.


[reprinted with kind permission of Schweizerische Vereinigung für Vegetarismus]

The Ecological and Economical Consequences of a

Meat Orientated Diet



Worldwide meat production increases further

Meat production worldwide:

 : 170 mio. tons

 : 194 mio. tons

 : 210 mio. tons

 : 217 mio. tons

 : 242 mio. tons   242 million tons of meat were produced. Only for Switzerland, this figure amounts to 600’000 tons.[1] In Switzerland, the quantative consumption of meat has already surpassed the one of bread (this has probably happened in other countries as well).[2] This fact has enormous ecological as well as economical consequences worldwide. Unfortunately, these consequences do not receive much attention.

Liquid manure causes dying of forests

The latest scientific research indicates clearly that today’s mass keeping of livestock is one of the main causes of the dying of forests. Biologist Dr. Hans Mohr[3] states in «Spektrum der Wissenschaft» of January  : «An essential insight gained by ten years of research on forest damage is that atmospheric amounts of nitrogen and especially ammonium[4] nitrogen, which first of all stems from agriculture, must be reduced. [...] The disposal of the steadily increasing quantity of liquid manure and human excrements remains the cardinal problem.»Emmissions of ammonia from agriculture stem to about 90% from liquid manure and dung.[5]Nowadays, human excrements are for the most part being disposed of by sewage plants; animal excrements, however, are still being poured respectively sprayed onto the fields. The result of this is that nitrogen (N) in the form of ammonia (NH3), which is today considered to be mainly responsible for the dying of forests, is being caused to 85% by the emissions of livestock.[6]

Nitrogen, actually an essential nutrient for meadows, forests and life in the water, can lead to over-fertilization if available in excess. This was noticed too late because forests would first grow faster with high nitrogen supply and react with first damages only when the soil was over-saturated with nitrogen.

In  , the research committee of the German Bundestag on the topic «Preservation of earth atmosphere» reached the same conclusion. Regarding ammonia (NH3), they published in «Climatic changes threaten national development»:

«The NH3-emissions are nationally (FRG), continentally (Western Europe) and globally to be assigned to 90% to agriculture and to 80% to the keeping of livestock. 528’000 tons of NH3 are emitted annually in the Federal Republic of Germany. Ammonia is found and starts in the stable area, on the pasture as well as when storing and bringing out organic fertilizer. [...] Ammonia and nitrogen release could be decreased by reducing the number of livestock, changes in feeding and reduction of bringing out liquid manure. [...] This would be desirable not only in ecological, but also in economical respects.»[8] To get a picture of economical consequences of the dying of forests, these consequences were calculated taking as an example the Swiss resort of Davos[9]: Partial deforestation of local forests would therefore cause appr. SFr. 267 mio. of resulting costs, a complete deforestation would cost appr. SFr. 508 mio. Even if all steeper areas of forest would have to be replaced by avalanche barriers, it would cause costs of SFr. 415 mio.

Destruction of water

Ammonia does not only have terrible consequences for forests, but als for water. Over-fertilization causes among other things an unnatural growth of algae, which in turn extract oxygen from the water. Animal-factories, which nowadays work independent of soil, produce such an amount of liquid manure that ground water is being seriously threatened.[10] For example, the Swiss lake of Sempach as well as the lake of Baldegg are given artificial respiration with a huge oxygen blower. About 50% of water pollution in Europe is caused by mass keeping of livestock. Nitrate from agriculture has already today penetrated so deep into the ground water that some of the mineral water labels no longer comply with guiding values for drinking water.[11] In the USA, the share of agriculture on water pollution is already bigger than all cities and industries together![12]

Over-acidification of the soil

Cattle pastures already cover one third of the land mass of this planet.[16]

Worldwatch InstituteAmmonia and nitrogen oxide (NOX) contribute substantially to over-acidification of the soil. This happened to such an extent in Holland already in   that the department had to take on the problem. Results of the Dutch Institute for Health and Protection of the Environment[13]:

«Nitrate from liquid manure being released as ammonia into the air is an environmental poison which causes so-called acid rain and other deposits containing acid. In Holland, most part of the precipitation comes from ammonia gases out of cow barns - they cause more damage to the country than all of the automobiles and factories.»

Hothouse effect

Up until now, mainly traffic and industry have been held responsible for the hothouse effect. The influence of agricultural keeping of livestock has also been neglected for a long time in this respect. The head of the Wuppertal-Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Ernst U. v. Weizäcker comments on this: «The contributions of cattle breeding to the hothouse effect are about the same as for the total of automobile traffic, if we take into consideration clearing of forests for cattle and for fodder. [...] And the transformation from savannas into deserts, the erosion of mountain areas, the excessive need of water for cattle, the gigantic need of energy for keeping fattening animals are only further reasons for our taking a lot out of our environment with each pound of beef.»[14]

Since 1970 more than 20 million hectares (1 hectare = 2.47 acres) of tropical forests have been changed into pastures for cattles.

Worldwatch InstituteAmong other things, the hothouse effect is caused by the three gases of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. All three of them originate in the agicultural keeping of livestock in big numbers. 12% of methane gas emissions are caused only by the 1.3 billion cattle kept worldwide. Breeding of livestock causes 115 mio. tons (115’000’000’000 kg) of methane gas yearly. This gets even more critical if one considers that one molecule of methane contributes 25 times more to the hothouse effect than one molecule of carbon dioxide.[15]

Waste of resources

Consumers who are responsible for the production of meat are also mainly responsible for wasteful use of resources. On the same piece of land that is needed to produce one kilogram of meat, one could harvest 200 kg of tomatoes or 160 kg of potatoes in the same period of time. In Switzerland, approximately 67% of productive land are being used for keeping livestock and growing fodder.

Approximately 100 liters of water are needed to grow 1 kg of grain, the production of 1 kg of meat, however, takes 2’000 to 3’000 liters of water.One piece of land can produce the following quantities of foodstuff: [17] Cherries 1’000 kg

Carrots 6’000 kg

Apples 4’000 kg


Beef 50 kg

Waste of foodstuff

One needs 7 to 16 kg of grain or soya beans to produce 1 kg of meat. This can easily be defined as one of the most effective ways to waste foodstuff. This artificial extension of the foodchain due to the transformation from grain into meat causes, among other things, 90% of protein, 99% of carbo- hydrates and 100% of fibre to be lost. In addition to this, only a small portion of the body of a slaughtered animal consists of the actually desired meat. Only 35% of the weight of a cattle or 39% of a calf (without bones).[18]

Nevertheless, in Switzerland 57% of the grain are still being fed to animals ( ). In the USA, 80% of the grain harvest are being fed to about 8 billion slaughter animals. Regarding soya beans, this amounts to even 90% worldwide.[19] About half of the worldwide produced grain is being fed to animals in order to eat their meat. If e.g. Americans would eat 10% less meat, the quantity of the grain thus saved could save about one billion people from starvation. About 1’200’000 tons of concentrated feed are being fed to livestock in Switzerland only, mostly grain. Switzerland can afford this waste, however, it hardly looks any better with developing countries: As FAO reports, in 1981 75% of the grain imports into the Third World were used for fodder. But also domestic cultivation of foodstuff is competing with worldwide cultivation of fodder: In Egypt e.g., over the last 25 years, cultivation of corn as fodder has taken over fields that used to produce wheat, rice and millet as staple food. The margin of grain used for fodder has increased from 10% to 36%.[20] A similar thing happened to other countries that increased their meat consumption. During 1950, 170 kg of grain per head were adequate to nourish the population of Taiwan. Until  , meat as well as egg consumption had multiplied sixfold. Grain requirement per head has increased to 390 kg because of this extension of the food chain. Taiwan can only meet this rising demand by imports, despite steadily increasing harvests. While Taiwan was exporting grain in 1950, in   it had to import its needed quantity from abroad, mostly as fodder.[21] Similar numbers apply to the former Soviet Union: Meat consumption has tripled since 1950, the demand for fodder has quadrupled. In   the cattle of the former Soviet Union consumed three times as much grain as the people. Imports of grain used as fodder reflect this: They increased from almost zero in 1970 to 25 million tons per year in  . The Soviet Union became the world’s second largest importer of fodder.

Effects on health

A vegetarian diet is not only possible, but also very healthy.Through the extension of the food chain by feeding plantlike foodstuff first to animals and then eating their meat, there is another disadvantage: pesticides, heavy metals and other poisons contained in the fodder add up in the animal’s body. This causes e.g. contents of pesticides in meat to be 14 times higher than in plantlike foodstuff, the contents of the pesticides in dairy products to be 5.5 times higher. Consumption of animal products on a massive scale has increased so much over the last decades that the disadvantages of such a diet are now becoming obvious: high blood pressure, heart diseases as well as diseases of the circulation system, rheumatism, gout, neurodermatitis and certain kinds of cancer are only a few of the so-called illnesses caused by civilization of which we know that consumption of animal products is the main trigger. The claim used to be heard quite often that man would need meat to stay healthy. This has been disproved by scientists for a long time and is only being stated by a few of the representatives of the meat lobby.


How is it possible that meat consumption is still increasing worldwide despite the above mentioned tremendous disadvantages of a meat orientated society?[22] Besides a few psychological and social reasons mostly caused by advertising (e.g. meat gives you strength, etc.), there is one aspect that should not be underestimated: money. At first glance this seems to be a contradiction as under normal conditions a branch of the economy programmed to destroy foodstuff and resources would have collapsed long since. There is no longer any reasonable relation between the costs and the advantage of this worldwide meat production.

Costs are being shifted onto the taxpayer

One reason why the meat industry still exists is that the revenues of this business are being transferred into private ownership, the costs, however, are still being shifted onto the public (and therefore onto the taxpayer). This is well known of other branches of the economy (e.g. automobile industry). No trace of cost truthfulness in agriculture either: According to estimates made by the renowned Worldwatch Institute in Washington, the price for meat would have to be doubled or tripled if one took into consideration the full ecological costs including burning of fossile fuel, lowering of the ground water level, chemical pollution of the soil and release of gases like ammonia and methane.[23] Let alone the resulting costs of the public health system.

State-subsidized madness

In contrast to other branches of the economy, the meat industry ist state-subsidized in almost all of the countries because it would not be profitable (despite shifting the costs). In Switzerland, the state uses approx. 84% of agricultural subsidies to support the production of meat, dairy products and eggs. Only 16% are available for production of plantlike foods.[24]

Federal spending to secure prices and sales (  in SFr.)[25]:For livestock business:1’205.9 millionFor growth of plants:332.1 millionIn no other branch of the market is the picture being so distorted as in the agricultural sector. Could you imagine a private company receiving more subsidies from the state than it takes in through the sale of produced goods? This even if the purchase of goods is granted through the state? The whole economy of the Eastern Bloc countries was led into an abyss by such politics. In countries with a free-market economy, such politics are limited to agriculture.

77% of the revenues of the Swiss economy are traced back to direct and indirect subsidies as well as countless interventions by the state. This costs the state SFr. 7 billion each year.[26] Up until now, there are 3’500 people working for the agricultural bureaucracy of Switzerland. They spend SFr. 900 mio. per year on the support of agricultural organisations only.[27] Approximately 99.5% of this figure are available for keepers of livestock. The same goes for the other industrial countries. Livestock business is not only supported and kept alive nationally, but also internationally: from 1963 until 1985, the World Bank pumped US$ 1.5 billion into livestock business of Latin America only, mostly into big cattle ranches.[28] Despite shifting of the costs and despite horrendous subsidies, agriculture remains a double-faced and crazy business for farmers and banks alike: In the USA, at certain times about   farmers per week quit their jobs because they cannot keep up with the intensifying of today’s meat production.

Farmers need more and more expensive machines and in order for them to be able to buy these machines, they need higher loans from the banks. During 1986 e.g., 160 US banks went bankrupt, most of them were driven into their ruin by agricultural business.[29]

Concluding remarks

Because one’s diet is something very personal, reflection over the consquences it might have is very unpopular. Nevertheless, this article tries to outline the ecological and economical consequences a diet based on animal products can have to those people who are conscious and know of their responsibility towards their environment. All topics mentioned in this article do have serious economical consequences. A lasting and environmentally compatible economic system is not possible without taking into consideration these facts. One can only hope and desire that in the future not only environmentalists and people who want to prevent cruelty against animals will try to deal with the problems of the consumption of meat, but also economists and politicians. For pioneers for a free-economy[30], like e.g. Werner Zimmermann, this was natural; they committed themselves to a vegetarian way of life as well as to changes in our economic system. Contrary to changing our economic system, which might prove to be very difficult, everyone can start making changes in his diet.


Recommendation of books:

§ Rifkin, Jeremy: Beyond Beef. The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, Campus,  

§ Robbins, John: Diet for A New America, Stillpoint Publishing, ISBN 0-913299-54-5.

§ A. Durning, H. Brough: Animal Farming and the Environment, Worldwatch-Paper 103.


Further reasons for a vegetarian way of life can be asked for at the office of the Swiss Union for Vegetarianism (Schweizerische Vereinigung für Vegetarismus):

Vegi-Büro Schweiz, Bahnhofstr. 52, CH-9315 Neukirch-Egnach

Tel.: 041 / 477 33 77, Fax: 071 / 477 33 78, PC-Konto 90-21299-7.


This text was written for the congress of INWO-Switzerland about sustainable economy.




“Sacrifice to Slaughter” – A Chapter From Book: “Beyond Beef” by Jeremy Rifkin (environmental scientist).

Several millennia before the birth of Christ a powerful king emerged among the peoples of the Nile river .Narmer-Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt into a single kingdom, creating the first great empire in Western history. Although he is remembered by historians for his extraordinary military accomplishments, Narmer-Menes's spiritual achievements were no less significant. The new king introduced bull worship throughout his kingdom, creating the first universal religion.

According to legend, the bull god Apis was conceived by a special cow who had been impregnated by a ray of moonlight. The young bull god was elevated to the spiritual throne of the new Egyptian empire, and from this vaunted position he ruled over the heavens and the affairs of society.

The bull god represented great strength and virility and the masculine passion for war and subjugation-an appropriate symbol for the age of conquest. Narmer-Menes ruled over Egypt by the grace of the new bull god. The king, in turn, was worshiped by the people as a bull god, as were all of his successors in the great dynastic reigns of the Egyptian empire. The kings were called "mighty bulls” and "bulls of the heavens”. A thousand years after the reign of Narmer- Menes. kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties were described in court chronicles as great bull gods who destroyed their enemies with their powerful hoofs and gored them with their sharp horns.

The great bull god Apis shared the heavens with the cow goddess Hathor. It was believed that Hathor gave birth to the sun itself. Hathor represented fertility and nurture, the fecundity of the cosmos. The sky was conceived as a giant cow whose legs extend to the four corners of the earth and who is held up by other gods. The queens of ancient Egypt were all viewed as cow goddesses and worshiped by the people.

Apis symbolized the vigor of youth and everlasting life and was embodied in a real-life bull kept in sanctuary and attended to by the priests. At the end of the old year the Apis bull was slaughtered in an elaborate ritual; his flesh was consumed by the king in an effort to incorporate the animal's fierce strength, majestic power, and virility into his being so that he might enjoy immortality. The ritual slaughter of the Apis bull was a time for renewal, for resurrecting the personal and political fortunes of the kingdom. It marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.

The impending death of the Apis bull sent the priests to scour the realm for a successor. When a new bull was located, its owner was handsomely rewarded and the priests immediately placed the animal in seclusion. For forty days and nights the bull was kept hidden away. Naked women were paraded in front of the animal to incite the god and .secure the fertility of both the women and land of Egypt. At the end of the period of seclusion the bull was trans- ported to the holy city of Memphis in a sacred barge inside a golden cabin. Upon arrival, the Apis bull was enthroned in the great temple of Ptah, where he occupied a suite of special rooms equipped with elaborate sleeping quarters. The Apis bull was served special foods and given holy water from the sacred wells of Egypt. Cows were kept in adjoining rooms to serve as concubines.

On holy days the bull was adorned with religious garments and paraded before the people in extravagant processionals. The birthday of the Apis god was preceded by a week of joyous feasting.

The Apis god was imbued with great powers, among which was the ability to predict the future. The animal's every movement and even its demeanor were viewed as signs or omens. The privileged often paid to spend a night in the temple near the Apis bull so that their dreams could be interpreted with the help of the bull's gestures. It is said that the bellowing of the Apis bull foretold the invasion of Egypt by the armies of Augustus.

After the ritual slaughter and eating of the Apis bull its remains were mummified and buried in a special chamber entombed inside a grand sarcophagus weighing over fifty tons.

Humanity's relationship to cattle has radically changed since the days of Narmer-Menes. Today, the birth of calves begins with "teaser bulls, " also called "sidewinders. " These animals are used to identify cows in estrus (heat). A teaser bull has undergone a surgical operation that reroutes his penis so that it comes out through his side. The bull becomes aroused in the presence of cows in heat and attempts to mount the females. Because his erect penis is off to the side, he can't penetrate the cow's vagina, but he does leave a colored dye on her rump from a marker that's been hung around his chin. Ranchers use the marker to identify the cows in heat so they can be sequestered and artificially inseminated.

More recently, a new generation of estrus-synchronizing drugs has been developed and commercially marketed, allowing cattlemen to dispense with teaser bulls. The drugs are injected into all of the cows in a herd at the same time so that they will all come into heat simultaneously. The Upjohn Company touts the efficiency and predictability of its own estrus-synchronizing drug with the advertising slogan "You call the shots. " By synchronizing the estrus cycles of an entire herd, commercial ranchers can plan ahead, picking the ideal time of the year for the calving season.

After birth, young male calves are castrated to make them more "docile" and to improve the quality of the beef. There are several methods of castration. In one procedure, the scrotum is grasped and stretched out tightly, a knife is stuck up through the scrotum and then used to cut open the sac, and each testicle is pulled out with the long cord attached. In another procedure, a device called an emasculator is used to crush the cord.

To ensure that the animals will not injure one another, they are dehorned with a chemical paste that burns out the roots of their horns. Some ranchers prefer to wait until the calves are older and then use an electronic dehorner with a cupped attachment that cauterizes the horn tissue. With older steers, saws are also used to cut off the horns and the roots, without the use of anesthetics.

Calves enjoy a short reprieve and are allowed to run with their mothers for six to eleven months on the open range before being transported to the giant mechanized feedlots where they are fattened up and readied for slaughter. There are some 42,000 feedlots in thirteen major cattle-feeding states. The 200 largest lots feed nearly half the cattle in the United States. The feedlot is generally a fenced-in area with a concrete feed trough along one side. In some of the larger feedlots, thousands of cattle are lined up side by side in cramped quarters.

In order to obtain the optimum weight gain in the minimum time, feedlot managers administer a panoply of pharmaceuticals to the cattle, including growth-stimulating hormones and feed additives. Anabolic steroids, in the form of small time-release pellets, are implanted in the animals' ears. The hormones slowly seep into the bloodstream, increasing hormone levels by two to five times. Cattle are given estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone. The hormones stimulate the cells to synthesize additional protein, adding muscle and fat tissue more rapidly. Anabolic steroids improve weight gain by 5 to 20 percent, feed efficiency by 5 to 12 percent, and lean meat growth by 15 to 25 percent. Over 95 percent of all feedlot-raised cattle in the United States are currently being administered growth- promoting hormones.

In the past, managers used to add massive doses of antibiotics to the cattle feed to promote growth and fight diseases that run rampant through the animals' cramped, contaminated pens and feedlots. In  , over 15 million pounds of antibiotics were used as feed additives for livestock in the United States. ' While the cattle industry claims that it has discontinued the widespread use of antibiotics in cattle feed, antibiotics are still being given to dairy cows, which make up nearly 15 percent of all beef consumed in the United States. Antibiotic residues often show up in the meat people consume, making the human population increasingly vulnerable to more virulent strains of disease-causing bacteria.

Castrated, drugged, and docile, cattle spend long hours at the feed troughs consuming corn, sorghum, other grains, and an array of exotic feeds. The feed is saturated with herbicides. Today 80 percent of all the herbicides used in the United States are sprayed on corn and soybeans, which are used primarily as feed for cattle and other livestock. When consumed by the animals, the pesticides accumulate in their bodies. The pesticides are then passed along to the consumer in the finished cuts of beef. Beef ranks second only to tomatoes as the food posing the greatest cancer risk due to pesticide contamination, according to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. Beef is the most dangerous food in herbicide contamination and ranks third in insecticide contamination. The NRC estimates that beef pesticide contamination rep- resents about 11 percent of the total cancer risk from pesticides of all foods on the market today.

Some feedlots have begun research trials adding cardboard, news- paper, and sawdust to the feeding programs to reduce costs. Other factory farms scrape up the manure from chicken houses and pigpens, adding it directly to cattle feed. Cement dust may become a particularly attractive feed supplement in the future, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, because it produces a 30 percent faster weight gain than cattle on only regular feed. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials say that it's not uncommon for some feedlot operators to mix industrial sewage and oils into the feed to reduce costs and fatten animals more quickly.

At Kansas State University, scientists have experimented with plastic feed, small pellets containing 80 to 90 percent ethylene and 10 to 20 percent propylene, as an artificial form of cheap roughage to feed cattle. Researchers point to the extra savings of using the new plastic feed at slaughter time when upward of "20 pounds of the stuff from each cow's rumen can be recovered, melt[ed] down and recycle[ed] into new pellets. " The new plastic pellets are much cheaper than hay and can provide roughage requirements at a significant savings.

Every aspect of the steers' environment is closely monitored, controlled, and regulated on the feedlot to optimize weight gain. Even flies can be a source of annoyance, disturbing the cattle and keeping them from eating; cattle can lose up to half a pound a day fending off swarms of flies. Flies also spread diseases, including pinkeye and infectious bovine rhinotraceitis. Highly toxic insecticides are sprayed from high-pressure nozzles atop tractors that drive along access roads next to feedlots "fogging the pens and sometimes the animals inside with a cloud of poison. " In the biggest feedlots, where 50,000 head or more are sequestered, managers sometimes turn to aerial spraying. Crop-dusting aircraft fly back and forth over cattle pens and spray feedlots with insecticides, drenching the facilities with toxic rain.

After being fattened to their "ideal" weight of l,l00 pounds, the mature steers are herded into giant truck trailers, where they are cramped together without room to move. Because the journey to the slaughterhouse is often a rough and brutal one, animals frequently fall and are trampled upon inside the trucks, suffering broken legs or pelvises. Unable to rise, these animals are known as "downers."

The cattle are transported for hours or days along interstate high- ways without rest or nourishment and frequently without water. At the end of their journey, intact animals are deposited in a holding pen at the giant slaughterhouse complex. Downers, however, must wait hours to be unloaded. Although downed animals are frequently in severe pain, they are rarely euthanized or anesthetized, as that would translate into a lost carcass and additional expenses. Often spread-eagled on the floor of the trailers, unable to stand or walk, these hapless animals are chained by their broken legs and dragged from the truck onto the loading ramp to await their turn for slaughter . Animals who die en route are thrown into a heap on the "dead pile."

Some of the more modern plants, like the Holcomb, Kansas, plant of lowa Beef, take up fourteen acres or more.25 The steers enter the slaughterhouse single-file. Immediately upon entry they are stunned by a pneumatic gun. As each animals sinks to its knees a worker quickly hooks a chain onto a rear hoof, and the animal is mechanically hoisted from the platform and hung upside down over the slaughterhouse floor. Men in blood-soaked gowns, handling long knives, slit each steer's throat, thrusting the blade deep into the larynx for a second or two, then quickly withdrawing the knife, severing the jugular vein and carotid artery in the process. Blood spurts out over the workstation, splattering the workers and equipment. A journalist describes the scene:

“The kill floor looks like a red sea. ...warm blood bubbles and coagulates in an ankle deep pool. The smell sears the nostrils. Men stand in gore. ...each night the gooey mess is wiped away….”

The dead animal moves along the main disassembly line. At the next workstation the animal is skinned. The hide is cut open at the midline of the stomach and a skinning machine strips the animal of its hide, leaving the skin in one piece. The carcass is decapitated, the tongue is split and removed, and both head and tongue are impaled on hooks attached to the disassembly line chain. The carcass is then gutted. The liver, heart, intestines, and other organs arc removed. After the viscera are removed, the body is hurried along to the next station, where the carcass is cut down the center of the backbone with motorized saws and the tail is pulled off the animal. The split carcass is hosed down with warm water, wrapped in cloth, and sent to a meat cooler for twenty-four hours. The next day workers use power saws to cut the carcass into recognizable cuts-steaks, chuck, ribs, brisket. The cuts are tossed onto conveyor belts, each manned by thirty to forty boners and trimmers, who cut off and box the final products. The neatly trimmed, vacuum-packed cuts of beef are then shipped off to supermarkets across the country, where they are displayed along brightly lit meat counters.



A sad story, but unfortunately true. A part of civilisation nobody wants to be aware of.

Some things are different in Switzerland, for example the use of antibiotics and hormons is forbidden. The law for animal-protection forbids the castration of adult animals without anaesthesia. Conferring to little pigs, there's no rule in the law. Castration in the first weeks without anaesthesia is allowed, but so far there's mo practicably usable method (injections in animals serving for human nutrition is forbidden).

I've seen enough slaughterhouses; animals aren't treated like living beings.

It's material they work with.

In the slaughterhouse plays the part of the story the consuments ignore.

Nobody wants to know, what happens in the last hours of cattle, pigs, chickens...

I feel confirmed in my refusing meat, even cattle and its treatment will be my job.

The moon hides her face behind the clouds, speaking a prayer for the poor souls.

Petra A.


I must admit I have mixed feelings about receiving this from you.  On the

one hand, I am pleased that you would share some of your thoughts and

enthusiasms with me.  And on the other hand, I am appalled at the content

of this message.  Those poor creatures!  My God, it is absolutely criminal

that the whole process is carried out with such a complete lack of

compassion for these fellow creatures.  It surely points out how far we

have to go before we have peace, light, and love on this planet.



Many thanks for the article - I made copies and share them with people, although some don't want to hear!

Perhaps you have seen the last week's NEWSWEEK article (cow on cover)  a very good expose on  mad cow disease and how it ties in with other "unrecognized " illnesses, saying there is a plague on its way, if not here already.



  14.5 Million Pounds of Meat Recalled

  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Approximately 14.5 million pounds of

  ready-to-eat meat and poultry products are being recalled by Bar-S

  Foods Co. of Clinton, Okla., because of concerns the products may be

  contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Agriculture

  Department said Friday.

  Products being recalled include lunch meats, whole hams, sausages, hot

  dogs and corn dogs, USDA said.

  The meats have been distributed to retail stores, institutions and

  delicatessens throughout the United States and have been shipped

  abroad to Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico and the South Pacific,

  USDA said.

  The contamination problem was discovered through USDA

  microbiological testing and the Clinton plant has been closed since

  March 29.

  USDA said consumption of listeria-contaminated foods can cause

  listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Symptoms include

  high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis also

  can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes

  fatal infections in infants, the frail or elderly.

  While the agency has received no reports of illness associated with the

  products, USDA was urging consumers to check their refrigerators and

  freezers for products with the following brand names:

  Bar-S, Bar-S Extra Lean, Coronado, Chuck Wagon, E-Z Carve and

  Thrifty. The products bear the bar code ``EST 471'' or ``EST P-471''

  inside the USDA seal of inspection.


Been so busy, that I haven't had time to reply to this.  Thought that I should.  Did you know that I have an Animal Science degree from Cornell?  I do. None of this surprises me.  Not only was the focus in Cornell on cattle, but specifically on dairy.  If you think that the beef industry is bad, take a good look at dairy sometime.  It might swear you off of milk for the rest of your life.

As for me, I long ago accepted that the animal "husbandry" industries sucked.  From the 300 days per year that they milk dairy cows round the clock, to the "growing" of cattle, poultry and pork, it is all hideous and sad.  It was absolutely no surprise to me that there was an outbreak of "mad cow".   We routinely were taught to balance cattle feed rations using "ground bone meal" and "renderings" (as well as coffee grounds, newspaper - minus ink, and loads of other unconventional feedstuffs)....




Liz S.: you can taste blood when you eat meat - it feels dirty when you're eating it.


Reza, my brother: dear greetings, and thank you

eternally for the tremendously informative(and

horrifying!) story about beef cultivation/production in

the U.S. You should know also that i read it today in

wonderful coincidence; it happens that my fortunes are

lately uncertain, often bleak. In the popular vernacular

it may be said that i  "hustle" somewhat. As such, i

have for a week or so been collecting certain ATM

machine recepts at one particular bank in Collegetown,

as they each offer a free hamburger form Wendy's on

their reverse sides. While i generally consume beef no

more than 3-5 times annually, i have lately been eating

these "jr. hamburgers" almost daily, more or less

desperately yet alltogether needlessly. Other and

infinitely more nutritious sources of food are available

to me, but  perhaps adversity has been leading me to

this convenient source. In fact, i consummed today 7-8

of these units of poison. What is more, i posess here

and now in my jeans pocket as i sit in a computer lab.

in Upson hall at least 10-12 coupons for the same, but i

shall momentarily throw them in the trash. Again, i

remain indebted to you. While i have read variously

about the effects of beef on the digestive tract and the

body and mind in general, the piece you sent gives rise

to much more fundamentally problematic spiritual(not to

say religious) and ethical questions about the entire

beef production industry. I abhor fast food, i

prepare most meals at home, and i shall not soon return

to a place which serves such.



                     Veal Tested Positive for Antibiotic--Ministries

                     BERLIN (Reuters) - The German and Dutch farm ministries said in a joint statement on Thursday a

                     laboratory had found a banned antibiotic in veal meat exported from a Dutch slaughterhouse to

                     Germany, France and Austria.

                     The antibiotic found in the meat, chloramphenicol, was the same as one discovered in fish scraps

                     imported to Europe from Asia for use as animal feed, sparking fears it may have entered the human

                     food chain.

                     A German farm ministry spokesman said the source of the antibiotic found in the veal meat by a Dutch

                     laboratory was not yet clear.

                     ``We can't at the moment make any link between the two,'' the spokesman told Reuters.

                     According to the statement, authorities in the countries affected had been informed and the meat had

                     been recalled.

                     The German farm ministry spokesman could not say if it had already reached supermarket shelves.

                     Chloramphenicol's use is restricted to combating life-threatening diseases such as anthrax and typhoid

                     because it can also cause a potentially lethal form of anemia in humans by preventing the formation of

                     blood cells.


                    Trade Meat for Tofu to Lower Heart Disease


                    By Suzanne Rostler

                    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - What you eat for lunch just might save your

                    life, results of a recent study suggest.

                    According to researchers, individuals who replaced lean meat with tofu cut

                    their risk of heart disease by reducing levels of cholesterol and other fatty

                    substances in the blood called triglycerides, and slowing the rate at which

                    LDL (''bad'') cholesterol is oxidized.

                    When LDL is oxidized, or modified, it is more likely to deposit in arteries and

                    form artery-clogging plaque that can lead to heart disease. Studies have

                    shown that patients with heart disease have higher levels of oxidized LDL in

                    their blood.

                    Therefore, slowing the rate at which LDL cholesterol is oxidized ``would be

                    expected to be associated with a decrease in coronary heart disease risk,''

                    Dr. Emma L. Ashton, of Deakin University in Prahran, Victoria, Australia,

                    and colleagues report in the December issue of the Journal of the American

                    College of Nutrition.

                    ``This study indicates that the replacement of lean meat with the same amount

                    of protein as tofu beneficially alters a number of coronary heart disease risk

                    factors,'' the authors write.

                    The researchers explain that estrogens, including plant-based forms of the

                    hormone known as phytoestrogens found in soy products such as tofu, may

                    lower a person's susceptibility to LDL oxidation. These compounds contain

                    antioxidants that are thought to prevent cholesterol from oxidation.

                    But more studies on the mechanisms involved are needed, Dr. Madeline Ball,

                    a study author, told Reuters Health.

                    ``The overall diet to reduce heart disease should be one with appropriate

                    calories to achieve or maintain ideal body weight, low in saturated fat and

                    with a good variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables,'' Ball

                    said. ``Using soy products like tofu may also help to reduce fat intake. This

                    could allow a greater improvement of the lipid profile.''

                    SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Nutrition  ;19:761-767.


Swine Farms Linked to Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs

                     By Emma Patten-Hitt, PhD

                     ATLANTA (Reuters Health) - Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be detected in waste ``lagoons'' and

                     groundwater near swine production facilities, researchers report.

                     Such facilities often contain thousands of antibiotic-treated pigs that generate massive amounts of

                     waste, which is sometimes stored in unlined pits, or lagoons.

                     In a new study, Dr. Rustam I. Aminov of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and

            colleagues used a method to detect antibiotic resistance genes in bacterial DNA extracted from waste

                     lagoons near two swine farms. One farm contained 4,000 pigs and the other had 1,200. The researchers specifically looked for genes for resistance to tetracycline.

                     The investigators found that the bacteria carrying the resistance genes had seeped into the underlying

                     groundwater and could be detected as far as 250 meters (about 820 feet) downstream of the lagoons.

                     ``This was just the farthest groundwater well (250 meters) that we had in our experiments--the actual

                     distances may exceed this,'' Aminov told Reuters Health. ``The resistance genes may pose a threat to

                     humans because antibiotic resistance may be transferred through groundwater,'' he said.

                     The researchers found antibiotic-resistant genes not only in bacteria that normally live in the animals'

                     intestines, but also in soil bacteria. This suggests that the genes might have been transferred from one

                     type of bacterium to another, or that the soil bacteria had developed resistance after being exposed to

                     tetracycline itself. About 25% to 75% of the antibiotics given to animals are shed unaltered into the

                     animals feces, according to the report.

                     Tetracycline and other antibiotics can boost growth in farm animals and have been used in agriculture

                     for decades. However, the bacteria that animals harbor in their intestines can become resistant to


                     ``These observations may have important implications for understanding the circulation and acquisition

                     of antibiotic resistance genes,'' the study authors report in the April issue of Applied and Environmental

                     Microbiology. They suggest that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could enter the animal and human food

                     chain via drinking water. According to the researchers, groundwater constitutes about 40% of the

                     water used for public supply and provides drinking water for more than 97% of the rural population in

                     the United States.

                     ``In this investigation, we just touched the tip of the iceberg,'' Aminov said. ``If you consider how many

                     other antibiotics are used in animal industry--21 antibiotics are approved for the use in swine

                     industry--we would have a tremendous diversity of antibiotic resistance genes flowing into the human

                     food chain,'' he told Reuters Health.

                     ``Recent estimates show that up to 70% of all antibiotics produced are used in animals--mostly for the

                     growth-promoting purposes,'' Aminov added. ``I think it is obvious that if we stop this really

                     unnecessary use of antibiotics, gene transmission from animals will also stop.''

                     SOURCE: Applied and Environmental Microbiology  ;67:1494-1502.


Ohio Firm Recalls 140,000 Pounds of Hot Dogs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Smithfield Foods Inc.'s John Morrell and Co. unit of Cincinnati, Ohio, is voluntarily recalling about 140,000 pounds of hot dogs that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the US Department of Agriculture said late on Thursday.


Just one of many horrible things that can happen to dead animals.



McDonald's apologizes for mislabeling fries, donates dlrs 10 million to Hindu and other groups

By HERBERT G. McCANN, AP Business Writer

CHICAGO - McDonald's Corp. has agreed to donate dlrs 10 million to Hindu and other groups to settle lawsuits filed against the chain for mislabeling french fries and hash browns as vegetarian.

McDonald's also posted an apology on its Web site, acknowledging that mistakes were made in communicating to customers and the public about the ingredients in the fries and hash browns. The vegetable oil used to prepare the fries and hash browns was not pure, but contained essence of beef for flavoring purposes. Many Hindus consider cows sacred and do not eat beef.

"We regret we did not provide these customers with complete information, and we sincerely apologize for any hardship that these miscommunications have caused among Hindus, vegetarians and others," the company said in an apology posted June 1 on the Web site.


Mom of joyful 10 month old

"we tried meat but she didn’t like it!"

Red Meat Increases Risk of Colorectal Cancer

FRIDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthScoutNews) -- An increase in colorectal cancer among Chinese people living in Singapore

can be linked to a diet high in red meat and low in vegetables.


McDonald's to End Growth Antibiotic Use

CHICAGO (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp. on Thursday told its meat suppliers to phase out growth-promoting antibiotics that are also used in human medicine, prompted by concerns that overuse could reduce the effectiveness of the drugs in people.

Eating to Live Rather than Living to Eat


"Once the power was cut and spring thaw arrived, nature took over. And enough rotting meat to fill a high school gym did exactly what you'd expect: It stank. It stank at the bank. It smelled at the law office. It reeked at the cafe. Even the jewelry store wasn't immune. Everyone in this tiny town could smell it, everywhere they went. A putrid odor so downright nasty the cleaners sent to mop up the gooey mess of liquefied meat -- topped by a blanket of swarming white maggots and buzzed by a legion of flies -- gave up after two days."

Good article by Dr. Saul:

Too Much Red Meat Bad for Long-Term Health

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When it comes to high protein diets and health, the source of the protein really does matter, new research suggests.

After following nearly 30,000 women for 15 years, investigators found that women were more likely to die from heart disease if they often substituted red meat for carbohydrates. In contrast, swapping vegetable sources of protein for carbs appeared to protect women from heart disease.

"Our main finding was that animal compared to vegetable sources of protein seem to have a different effect on dying from heart disease," study author Dr. Linda E. Kelemen from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota told Reuters Health.


NEW YORK - The company started by the late nutrition guru Dr. Robert C. Atkins to promote a low-carb lifestyle has filed for bankruptcy court protection, a further sign of the waning popularity of the diet....

A recent survey by the NPD Group, an independent marketing information company, found that the number of American adults on any low-carb diet peaked at 9.1 percent last February and dropped to 3.6 percent by mid-November.

Processed Meats invites Pancreatic Cancer

Published on : 4/22/2005 3:25:00 PM  

Category : Health Care News

Consumption of processed meat in large amount, like hot dogs and sausages, could deliver you pancreatic cancer, said researchers. Several studies have made the link before but the results have been spotty.

Researchers believe that the chemical reactions which occur during the preparation of processed meats might be responsible.

"The results suggest carcinogenic substances related to meat preparation, rather than their inherent fat or cholesterol content, might be responsible for the association" , said Dr. Ute Nothlings, from the University of Hawaii.

In the study of 190,000 men and women, those who ate the greatest amount of processed meats had a 67 percent increase in risk of pancreatic cancer. According to a new study, Italian team at the University of Parma yesterday claimed green tea could be used to help prevent prostate cancer.


Researchers found a 50% increased risk of colorectal cancer in people who ate red or processed meat once a day.


However, they found eating fish actually reduced the risk of cancer by 40%.


Researchers say reducing meat intake to once or twice a week, and increasing the amount of fish and fiber in your diet, gives you the best change for overall good health.


The study looked at 500,000 participants from 10 european countries. Each participant provided detailed information on their diet and lifestyle.


This study confirms previous reports from studies in North America and Europe. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


American Diet Too Heavy on Meat, Study Finds 


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite warnings from the government, health groups and doctors, more than 70 percent of Americans still eat too much meat and fat and too few vegetables, cancer researchers said on Thursday.


Meats differ in effect on colon cancer risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who eat a lot of processed meats may have a higher risk of developing pre-cancerous growths -- polyps -- in the colon, while the opposite may be true for fans of chicken, a new study suggests.


A combination of legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) and raw nuts and seeds; you need to combine the legume with the seed and nut at the same meal or the same time, as this will provide first class protein which contains all the essential amino acids. If you just eat a bean, or a nut, by itself, you are not getting the first class protein you need to control your hunger and blood sugar levels. This is why it is not uncommon for strict vegans to struggle with their weight and suffer with unstable blood sugar levels and sugar cravings.


2014: study:

high animal protein in middle age caused 4 times greater death from cancer and 75% greater death rate

IGF1 growth protein causes inflammation - cancer is a condition of over inflammation -

eat more fruit and vegetables

after 65 you need more protein to fight infection.

Quinoa is complete protein.

Amaranth (kiwicha) (has lysine amino acid).

Except for Quinoa and Amaranth, Millet has the most complete protein of any grain.


"The problem with nearly all protein powders on the market is that they have been heated and heat damages the amino acids. This may cause an allergic-type reaction

All protein powders that have been subjected to any heat in their processing are sources of hidden MSG because the amino acids have been damaged which allows the formation of processed free glutamic acid."


High-protein diets like that of the popular Atkins diet may accelerate the loss of kidney function in people with early problems. However, these controversial diets do not seem to affect people with normal kidneys, suggests new research.

The problem is, as many as 20 million Americans are at risk for reduced kidney function but don't know it. Therefore, people on high-protein diets may be unknowingly damaging their kidneys. 0317/high-protein-diets-can-hurt-kidneys


Buckwheat has more than 90% of the protein value of milk solids, and more than 80% of eggs. A pound of buckwheat provides protein equivalent to a half-pound of beef. Buckwheat also contains high amounts of all eight amino acids - lysine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, and valine—which the body does not produces on its own. In short, buckwheat is closer to being a complete protein than any other plant source, including soy beans. It is also a very good source of magnesium and manganese, fiber, phosphorus, and vitamin B5.

Buckwheat contain two flavonoids with significant health-promoting actions: rutin and quercetin. These flavonoids extend the action of vitamin C and act as antioxidants.

The Protein Myth

by Genesa Wright, CMT

"Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul." Mark Twain

As I meet with more and more individuals who are trying to cut more (or all) consumption of meat and dairy products out of their diet, the same question always arises. The question of Protein. How do you know you're

getting enough? How can you possibly get enough protein if you don't eat

meat and especially if you also cut down the consumption of cheese, milk

and eggs?

The fact is, we have always been told we need much more protein than is

even good for us. There is a growing body of scientific research that

points to the serious health consequences of ingesting too much protein.

For instance, it is a common belief that we should drink more milk and

eat more dairy products because they are high in calcium. Calcium is, as

we all know, necessary for strong teeth and bones. And it is true that

more women die today from the effects of osteoporosis (loss of bone

density due to calcium deficiency) than from breast and cervix cancer


In current nutritional research it has been found that osteoporosis is

caused by more than one factor but the most important of these is the

consumption of excess dietary protein!

These scientific findings by independent research teams were concluded

by studying the effects of low-and high-protein diets on calcium

balance. Their studies have shown two things:

"(1) Low-protein diets create a positive calcium balance, meaning bones

are not losing calcium; and (2) High-protein diets create a negative

calcium balance, meaning osteoporosis is developing."

In every study it was found that the more protein ingested, the more

calcium loss in the body. This was true even with a calcium intake of up

to 1400 milligrams per day. Dr. John McDougall, a leading medical

authority on dietary associations with disease, sums up the medical

research on osteoporosis:

"I would like to emphasize that the calcium-losing effect of protein on

the human body is not an area of controversy in scientific circles. The

many studies performed during the past fifty-five years consistently

show that the most important dietary change that we can make if we want

to create a positive calcium balance that will keep our bones solid is

to decrease the amount of proteins we eat each day. The important change

is not to increase the amount of calcium we take in."

Obviously our present beliefs in protein consumption are not justified.

Other objective authorities such as the World Health Organization, the

Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and the

National Research Council say that at the very maximum we need only 8

percent of our total daily calories from protein. The average American

consumes 90 to 120 grams of protein as opposed to 20 to 40 grams per day

which would be a more ideal intake.

"Human Mother's milk provides 5 percent of its calories as protein.

Nature seems to be telling us that little babies, whose bodies are

growing the fastest they will ever grow in their lives, and whose

protein needs are maximum, are best served when 5 percent of their food

calories come as protein," writes "May All Be Fed" author, John Robbins.

Information from Nathan Pritikin, known the world over as a health and

nutrition expert coupled with information from a member of a Harvard

team of researchers, concludes that it is practically impossible to get

below 9 percent of total calories in protein in ordinary vegetarian

diets "without resorting to high levels of sugar, jams, jellies, and

other essentialy protein-free foods" and junk foods. Researchers have

found it possible but "far from easy" to design a diet deficient in

proper levels of protein.

Contact Genesa at:


"Amaranth grains grow very rapidly and their large seedheads can weigh up to 1 kilogram and contain a half-million seeds.[9] Amaranthus species are reported to have a 30% higher protein value than other cereals, such as rice, wheat flour, oats, and rye.[10]

Amaranth and quinoa are called pseudograins because of their flavor and cooking similarities to grains. These are dicot plant seeds, and both contain exceptionally complete protein for plant sources. Besides protein, amaranth grain provides a good source of dietary fiber and dietary minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and especially manganese.

Quinoa's protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthful choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[3] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. "




Garbanzo Beans & figs, good sources of Alkaline.

about 56 grams of protein for a 70 kg man).

Essential amino acid patterns of protein (mg/g)


Ideal 11 35 42 70 51 26 73 48

soy 13 49 44 74 61 27 83 46

azuki 10 34 49 84 75 20 83 51

potato 16 36 40 59 60 29 81 56

h-milk 16 48 57 97 70 40 101 53

c-milk 14 45 60 97 79 34 96 66

eggs 16 49 62 87 67 56 97 72

rice 11 44 39 72 39 44 94 61

wheat 12 29 53 78 25 30 101 49

oats 13 35 42 83 45 57 84 61

While you get protein from just about all the foods you eat,

legumes and grains can supply significant quantities of protein in

the diet. Foods like TVP, tofu, seitan are concentrated sources

of protein. TVP is almost all soy protein, and seitan is

basically almost all wheat protein (gluten). Legumes, in general,

supply large quantities of protein (12 - 15 grams/cup). Nuts and

seeds also supply significant quantities of protein (like almonds

or pumpkin seeds). Grains like quinoa, amaranth, oats, wheat,

spelt are also very good sources of protein. Vegetables like

brocolli and potatoes supply significant amounts of protein. Even

a banana supplies a gram of protein.

* *



* *



* *

* BROCCOLI 32 45 *

* CARROT 42 10 *

* CORN 96 15 *

* POTATO 76 11 *

* SQUASH 19 23 *

* CUCUMBER 15 24 *

* SWEET POTATO 114 6 *

* TOMATO 22 20 *

* PINTO BEANS 349 26 *

* CHICK PEAS 360 23 *

* LENTILS 340 29 *

* PEANUTS 564 18 *

* BARLEY 348 11 *

* RICE 360 8 *

* RYE 334 14 *

* WHEAT 330 17 *

* ALMOND 598 12 *

* WALNUT 628 13 *

* APPLE 56 1 *

* BANANA 85 5 *

* *

* ADULT RDA  -2700 8-9 *

* *




* *

* % OF RDA *



* *

* CORN LYSINE 484% *


* *

* RICE LYSINE 265% *


* *


* *



* *



* turns out that there are real foods (not as well known) that contain

all eight of the essential amino acids, such as:

Fruit: Bananas, Dates, tomatoes,

Nuts: Almonds, Coconuts, Filberts, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts, Brazil nuts,


Vegetables: Alfalfa Sprouts, Bean Sprouts, Carrots, Eggplants, Sweet

Potatoes, Broccoli, Cabbages, Corn, Okra & Squash



Two of the most pervasive myths about vegetarian diets concern


Myth 1: It is hard to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet

Myth 2: Plant protein does not contain all essential amino acids and

you have to carefully combine plant foods in your diet in order to get

the "right" protein.

Both of these are false and are addressed in the summaries below.


From: (Tom Molnar)

Subject: protein requirements

Message-ID: <>

The question of protein requirements and how to meet it with a

vegetarian diet comes up from time to time. I wish I had the time to

answer the question more fully, but I can't. I don't even have the

time to discuss it much. But I'll forward some notes I made for

myself when I gave a talk on protein requirements.

A few things to bear in mind:

+ I was generalizing, as in everything there are exceptions

+ I have met people who were able to do what I thought was

impossible, to be undernourished -- simply by choosing to

eat nutritionally imbalanced foods

+ Most importantly:

I am not a nutrition expert, I can make mistakes

and my opinions on diet, nutrition, human metabolism,

biochemisty and physiology can be dead wrong.

I probably won't be able to answer any questions that arise from these

notes since I am fairly busy these days.


Protein requirements


+ Disclaimer

Sources of info: Nutrition Recommendations: Health and Welfare Canada

Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism: M.C. Linder

The McDougall Plan: J.A. McDougall

Review of Medical Physiology: W.F. Ganong

Nutritional data: USDA Handbook #8.

What is protein?

it's one of the three macronutrients commonly identified as a

dietary req.

it represents nitrogen-containing compounds for which amino acids

are the basic structural units.

amino acids are small organic compounds containing at least one

amino group and an organic acid group. The differences between

amino acids lies in the differences between the amino acid side


proteins are the most abundant organic compound of the body. More

than fat, usually. Much more than carbohydrate. About 65% of the

total body protein lies in the skeletal muscles.

proteins function primarily in the growth and repair of body

tissue. Just about every cell in our body has a protein

component, and we are unable to synthesize new cells without the

requisite building blocks. Hair, nails, skin contain

protein. Blood contains plasma proteins; hemoglobin has a protein

component. Proteins are components of some antibodies. Many

hormones are proteins (like insulin). In fact, the protein

content of the average cell is 16% of its total mass.

there are more than 50,000 different proteins in our bodies.

These are all made from about 22 different amino acids. Our

bodies can synthesize 14 of these 22 amino acids, we cannot make 8

of them, and these 8 must come from food. These 8 are called the

essential amino acids. Sometimes we cannot synthesize other amino

acids and therefore they too must come from diet.


Protein requirements

How much protein do we need? This has been studied extensively.

The studies try to determine how much protein is used and absorbed

before there is an excess. Usually this is done by determining

nitrogen balance. Nitrogen is a component of protein, and

measurements of nitrogen can be used to determine the amount of

amino acid quantity. By comparing the amount of nitrogen excreted

with the amount of nitrogen ingested, we can determine whether or

not protein is accumulating in the body, remaining at the same

level, or is decreasing. The nitrogen balance test compares

normal daily nitrogen losses (such as sweat, urine, feces, shed

skin, lost hair etc.) with intake. A postive balance means that

more nitrogen is being ingested than excreted, which means there

is tissue growth, such as that in a child. A negative balance

means that more nitrogen is being excreted than ingested, or more

protein is being degraded than synthesized in the body. This

represents a net loss of body protein.

Most of us have heard by now that the average protein requirement

is about 0.8 g dietary protein / kg body weight (about 56 grams of

protein for a 70 kg man). How did they arrive at that figure and

how much protein does the average diet provide? Note that this

figure varies, depending on where you look. In the end, the

variations are not that important since we get enough anyway.

The protein requirement is not really for protein per se, but for

amino acids. We break down all protein we eat into its

constituent amino acids and absorb them that way. That's why

diabetics can't just take insulin orally -- the insulin is a

peptide hormone, and it would be broken down into its amino acid

constituents as it passes through the digestive tract. It doesn't

matter what the source of the amino acid is, beef, egg, or

soybean. We really need to get the 8 essential amino acids from

diet and it doesn't matter where they come from. The often quoted

protein quality has nothing to do with the amino acid quality,

lysine from beans has the same chemical structure as lysine from


The protein requirement in adults is simply a replacement for

obligatory losses. Basically it amounts to keeping a leaky bucket

topped up. We lose protein through skin, sweat, hair, urine and

feces. We turn over a lot of protein in our bodies. We don't

rely on dietary protein to build all the proteins we need,

instead, we are very efficient at recycling our own tissues. In

fact, we recycle between 100 and 300 grams of our own protein

every day. We have an amino acid pool in our body from which we

take out amino acids to build new ones, and to which we add amino

acids by breaking down protein (endogenous and exogenous). We

have to eat regularly to keep adding to this pool, because we

don't have a store for proteins like we do for fats or

carbohydrate. So our protein requirement is just that which

supplies enough amino acids to replace that which is lost.

In the theoretical average 62.5kg person, about 240 g of protein

is synthesized and degraded daily. This process requires about 260

g of amino acid, of this amount about 1/6 must come from diet.

This means that only about 1/6 of the amino acids released by

endogenous protein degradation are not recycled. Where does all

this protein come from? A large part (maybe even more than half)

of it comes from the digestive juices, from the instestinal

mucosal cells, breakdown of muscle and other tissues, etc.

so what then is the requirement?


The minimum requirements for the essential amino acids are

variable, dependent on study. These numbers are more for academic

interest, since the Western diet, vegetarian or not, almost always

provides more than enough amino acids and sometimes far in excess

of requirements.

The specifics are:

Amino acid composition of the average mixed protein diet of

Canadians and comparison with the provisional amino acid


FAO/WHO/UNU 1985 provisional pattern for adults

(converted to mg/g protein by dividing the amino acid

requirement/kg by the recommended intake of egg or milk

protein/kg. For adults the recommended intake was 0.78g/kg)


diet mg/g mg/kg mg/g

Histidine - [8-12] [10-15]

Isoleucine 46.7 10 12.8

Leucine 79.1 14 17.9

Lysine 61.6 12 15.4

Methionine +

Cystine 34.1 13 16.7

Phenylalanine +

Tyrosine 81.8 14 17.9

Threonine 38.4 7 9.0

Tryptophan 12.3 3.5 4.5

Valine 57.6 10 12.8

Taken from Nutritional Recommendations,  , Health and Welfare Canada.


Requirement of EAA (per kg body wt), mg/day

(From National Academy of Sciences,

Recommended Dietary Allowances, 9th ed. 1980)

Amino Infant Child Adult

4-6 mos 10-12 yr

Histidine 33 ? ?

Isoleucine 83 28 12 840 for

Leucine 135 42 16 1120 a

Lysine 99 44 12 840 70kg

Methionine & Cystine 49 22 10 700 adlt

Phenylalanine & tyrosine 141 22 16 1120

Threonine 68 28 8 560

Tryptophan 21 4 3 210

Valine 92 25 14 980

min prot req between 0.3 and 0.4 gm/kg

What affects these requirements? Are they always the same?

Definitly not. Our protein requirements can change dramatically

when we are injured or sick.

Now these are the minimum requirements for the amino acids

themselves, and proteins in foods contain variable amounts of

these amino acids. So requirements, expressed in terms of a

protein requirement not an amino acid requirement, have to take

into consideration things like variable quantities of amino acids,

and variable amino acid requirements.


They may double in the short term. Where does the body get this

extra supply when suffering from an illness -- especially if we

don't eat? From muscle, mostly. It may take a month or more to

restore the nutrients used up in the body while it fights off an


The protein requirement can also be affected by the amount of

carbohydrate in the diet. Nonessential amino acids can be made

from glucose, for example. Sometimes a significant amount is

made. Adequate carbohydrate supplies reduces the need for the

liver to synthesize glucose from amino acids. The liver will make

sure the blood sugar is at a minimum level, and it will break down

proteins to supply glucose if the glycogen reserves aren't kept at

an adequate level. Brain tissue and red blood cells use 140 to

150 grams of glucose over the period of a day for example. These

two tissues require glucose and the liver will make sure they get

it, either from food or from converting internal protein to sugar.

Long duration exercise can also lead to the burning of BCAAs. One

of the effects of carbohydrates, then, is to "spare" protein.

So what's the daily protein requirement? Well, the average

theoretical losses amount to about 0.34 g of protein per kg body

weight per day. Clearly a recommendation to replace this loss has

to have an adequate safety margin. With 2 standard deviations

added to this value, it comes to 0.45 g/kg per day of "ideal"

protein. Adding safety margins for digestibility and protein

quality, the requirement is thus in the region of 0.75g/kg.

Different countries have different recommendations. In Canada and

the U.S., the recommendation is about 0.8g/kg, while in Denmark it

is around 2g/kg and in Russia, it is even higher I think. I

believe the British recommendation is around 1.2g/kg, but am not

exactly sure.

stating the requirement as a percentage of calories, the Canadian

RNI for protein is about 10% protein by calorie. They recommend

that protein make up 13 to 15 percent of the calories of the daily

diet. But remember, they also recommend that fats be kept to 30%

or less, leaving little room for carbohydrates. This is not what

many consider to be the optimal recommendation. Health and

Welfare Canada use what they view as a pragmatic approach I guess.

Protein levels in the diet: is it high enough?

one of the most common questions vegetarians hear is "So where do

you get your protein?". The answer is "from everything I eat".

It is a commonly held belief that we need lots of protein in our

diet and the foods that supply these proteins are meat, fish and

dairy products. Any diet that excludes these foods must be

deficient in protein. This is false. We've discussed that safe

and adequate level of protein intake for the average male adult is

about 56 grams. This can be just about met by eating nothing else

but 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of beans three times a day. One

package of Loblaw's tofu contains 53 grams of protein (not quite

1.5 cups). As I pointed out, it doesn't matter where the

requisite amino acids come from -- tofu can supply it just as well

as beef can, maybe even better.

an example of a study that compared protein intake is as follows:

Consumption of Essential Amino Acids and Protein by Vegetarians in the U.S. (g)

Amino Acid Non-vegetarian Ovolacto-vegetarian Pure-vegetarian


Isoleucine 6.6 5.4 4.0

Leucine 10.1 8.2 6.0

Lysine 8.3 5.4 3.7

Phenylalanine and Tyrosine 10.3 8.8 7.0

Methionine and Cysteine 4.3 3.2 2.7

Threonine 5.0 3.8 2.9

Tryptophan 1.5 1.2 1.1

Valine 7.1 5.6 4.3

Total protein intake 121 97 82


(Linder, pp 90 -- from Hardage, 1966)

So we see that even the vegans in this study got more protein than

they needed.

what about protein quality? Many people have been taught that

animal proteins are superior to plant proteins because animals

proteins have more essential amino acids per gram of protein, some

animal proteins are better digested than plant proteins and that

the amino acid profiles of animal proteins better match a

theoretical ideal protein than plant proteins.

It is true that animal proteins tend to have more essential amino

acids per gram of protein, in general, than plant protein. But so

what? We get too much protein in our diets anyway. A 12 oz

T-bone steak supplies a whopping 70 grams of protein. Pity our

poor kidneys. It's worthwhile to note that excessive amounts of

the sulphur containing amino-acids (methionine and cysteine) have

having adverse health effects. Generally only animal proteins

contain large quantities of this amino acid. Many studies indict

excessive protein intake by linking chronic diseases to excess

protein in the diet. There is also a limit to the amount of

protein we asimilate at any one time. This limit is around 25

grams. Excess protein is broken down and stored as fat. So are

animal proteins at an advantage? Maybe not. What do we get from a

12 oz T-Bone? Fat and probably sick.

What about the protein quality?

The amount of amino acids per gram of protein is called the amino

acid profile. There is an ideal protein that we use as a

reference to determine the "quality" of a protein and a few foods

for comparison.

Essential amino acid patterns of protein (mg/g)


Ideal 11 35 42 70 51 26 73 48

soy 13 49 44 74 61 27 83 46

azuki 10 34 49 84 75 20 83 51

potato 16 36 40 59 60 29 81 56

h-milk 16 48 57 97 70 40 101 53

c-milk 14 45 60 97 79 34 96 66

eggs 16 49 62 87 67 56 97 72

rice 11 44 39 72 39 44 94 61

wheat 12 29 53 78 25 30 101 49

oats 13 35 42 83 45 57 84 61

This table should dispense once and for all the claim that plant

proteins are inferior to animal proteins because they are missing

or lacking some essential amino acids. All plant proteins contain

all essential amino acids in varying amounts. Anyone who says

that we have to eat a amino acid in particular ratios at each meal

doesn't really understand how the body deals with protein. What

we need to do is to replenish our amino acid pool, and the amino

acids do not, repeat, do not have to come from the same protein.

Not even from the same meal. Soy protein can supply the lysine at

lunch, wheat protein can supply the methionine at dinner.

Although we do not have a store of amino acids per se, we do have

an amino acid pool (circulating amino acids in the blood). The

half-life of amino acids in this pool vary, but the life of the

essential amino acids is at least 4 to 6 hours after digestion.

Protein synthesis goes on all the time and the source of amino

acids is the amino acid pool, and not necessarily the proteins you

absorb immediately following a meal. Eating replenishes the amino

acid pool, and there is enough of a supply that you don't have

worry about eating enough of a particular amino acid at each meal.

It all works out over the day. In the Western world, it is quite

difficult to eat a diet that results in a protein deficiency. In

Third World countries, where there are food shortages, protein

deficiency coupled with insufficient calories does occur with some


Digestibility. We're very good at digesting protein. We can

digest and absorb 70% - 90% of plant protein and 85% - 100% of

animal (or human) protein. Remember, we digest human protein all

the time -- our own tissues. We're very efficient at reclaiming

and recycling our own protein.

An example of the digestibility of foods is:

Food Digestibility of protein (%)


Eggs 97

Meats, poultry, fish 85-100

Milk 81

Wheat 91-95

Corn 90

Soybeans 90

Other legumes 93-85


(Linder pp. 90)

So our digestive system will not allow much protein to slip

through the body undigested. And it doesn't matter a great deal

what the source of the protein is. What does it matter if the

digestibility of wheat is 91% and that of eggs is 97% since the

amount of protein we eat is in excess of our minimum requirements


Protein sources

So what are good sources of protein if you decide to eliminate all

animal products from your diet?

While you get protein from just about all the foods you eat,

legumes and grains can supply significant quantities of protein in

the diet. Foods like TVP, tofu, seitan are concentrated sources

of protein. TVP is almost all soy protein, and seitan is

basically almost all wheat protein (gluten). Legumes, in general,

supply large quantities of protein (12 - 15 grams/cup). Nuts and

seeds also supply significant quantities of protein (like almonds

or pumpkin seeds). Grains like quinoa, amaranth, oats, wheat,

spelt are also very good sources of protein. Vegetables like

brocolli and potatoes supply significant amounts of protein. Even

a banana supplies a gram of protein.

Protein deficiency

Protein deficiency is not very common in the Western world.

Kwarshiorkor is fairly common in the Third World where it is often

accompanied by a deficiency of calories as well as protein

(marasmus). Protein deficiency as a result of diet, in our

society, can basically only happen during a restricted calorie

diet or by possibly following a very restricted diet such as a

fruitarian diet.

Protein excess


What sorts of problems can longterm excess consumption of protein

lead to? Doctors like McDougall point out that excess protein in

diet can contribute (not cause) to osteoporosis, for example.

Diets high in protein are often also high in purines -- this can

lead to gouty arthritis.

Diets high in the sulpher containing amino acids might put people

at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

Diets high in protein stress the kidneys, because the kidneys have

to get rid of the protein breakdown by-products, which can be very

toxic if left to accumulate.

How much is too much? Some experts feel that anything higher than

double the daily requirement is too high.


The protein requirements of humans can be readily met by a vegetarian

diet with no particular effort required to combine proteins or to

carefully select foods for each particular meal.




From: (Lightbulb joke collector extraordinaire and FAQ maintainer.)


Subject: Protein (all you ever wanted to know about...)

Date: 4 May   07:58:47 GMT

Message-ID: <3oa1fn$>

Extracts from "Vegan Nutrition, a survey of research" by Gill Langley MA PhD

Protein Requirements


Experts are still not entirely sure how much protein we need, and

estimates have often been revised in recent years. The national and

international organizations which advise on nutrient requirements

suggest standards which are calculated to meet or exceed the

requirements of practically everyone, explicitly taking into account

individual variation, and so these levels have a wide in-built safety

margin. In 1985 the World Health Organization (WHO) published revised

figures as follows:(1)

The WHO protein figures translate into 56g of protein a day for an

11.5 stone (75kg) man, and 48g for a 10-stone (64kg) woman. The

recommendations of the UK Department of Health and Social Security

(DHSS) are slightly higher, at about 68g a day for sedentary or

moderately active men, and 54g a day for women (2). Both these

official recommendations suggest that eating 10% of our daily energy

as protein will provide an adequate amount. The NACNE report (3)

proposes a protein intake of 11%. National and international

recommendations for protein intake are based on animal sources of

protein such as meat, cow's milk and eggs. Plant proteins may be less

digestible because of intrinsic differences in the nature of the

protein and the presence of other factors such as fibre, which may

reduce protein digestibility by as much as 10%. Nevertheless, dietary

studies show the adequacy of plant foods, as sole sources of protein

(see Combining Proteins below), as does the experience of healthy

vegans of all ages.

The main protein foods in a vegan diet are the pulses (peas, beans and

lentils), nuts, seeds and grains, all of which are relatively energy

dense. As the average protein level in pulses is 27% of calories; in

nuts and seeds 13%; and in grains 12%, it is easy to see that plant

foods can supply the recommended amount of protein as long as the

energy requirements are met.

People are not Rats


Tradition has it that plant proteins are of a poorer quality than

animal proteins, because the essential amino acids are present in

proportions which may not be ideal for human requirements. In the

early years of research into protein quality this belief derived from

experiments with laboratory rats, when it became clear that amino acid

supplementation of a plant source of protein improved its biological

value to the point where it would support the growth of weaning

rats. The parameters of these experiments were set in such a way that

differences in the quality of plant and animal proteins were

maximised; the second major problem is that rats and humans have

different nutritional requirements (4).

The weanling rat grows, relatively, at a much faster rate than the

human infant and therefore requires a more concentrated source of

nutrients, including protein. A comparison with human milk makes the

difference quite clear; protein comprises only 7% of the calorie

content of breast milk, while rat milk contains 20% protein. If

weanling rats were fed soley on human milk, they would not

thrive. Using the same logic as was applied in the early experiments,

it could be argued from this that breast milk is also inadequate for

human infants!

Some early studies further demonstrated the differences in nutritional

requirements between rats and humans. In 1955 (5) an experiment with

three male volunteers showed that the amino acid cystine is able to

substitute for 80-89% of the body's requirement for another essential

amino acid, methionine, whereas in rats the substitution value is only


Combining Proteins


Although the terms 'first-class' and 'second-class' proteins are no

longer used, in some circles the belief persists that a vegan diet,

containing only plant proteins, may be inadequate. This is because

cereals, nuts and seeds contain less of the amino acid lysine, while

being high in methionine; and pulses are rich in lysine but contain

less methionine. This has given rise to concern that the amino acid

present in lower amounts in each food will limit the availability to

the body of the others, and the suggestion has been made (6), and

adopted quite widely - even among vegans - that complementary protein

foods, such as beans and grains, should be eaten at each meal in order

to enhance amino acid availability. Vegetarians are also sometimes

advised to ensure that they complement vegetable proteins with dairy

foods. Are these precautions necessary?

Protein combining may reduce the amount of protein required to keep

the body in positive protein balance (6), but several human studies

have indicated that this is certainly not always the case. For

example, over a 60-day period seven human subjects were fed diets in

which protein was derived solely either from beans, corn and refined

wheat; beans, rice and refined wheat; or a combination of the plant

foods with the addition of cow's milk (8). All subjects remained in

positive nitrogen balance (a measure of the adequacy of dietary

protein), and there were no significant differences in nitrogen

balance between the subjects eating only plant foods and those whose

diet was supplemented with milk.

Another study looked at the nutritive value of a plant-based diet in

which wheat provided 76% of the protein (9). The aim was to determine

whether this regime could be improved by adding other sources of plant

protein - such as pinto beans, rice and peanut butter. The diets were

entirely vegan, containing only 46g of protein, and were fed to 12

young men over a 60 day period, during which they continued their

normal daily activities. The researchers found that all subjects

remained in nitrogen balance, and that replacement of 20% of the wheat

protein with beans, rice or peanut butter did not result in

significant changes in the levels of essential amino acids in the


Even more startling perhaps were the findings of a 59-day

investigation with six male subjects who consumed diets in which

virtually the sole source of protein was rice (10). At two protein

levels (36g and 48g per day) the diets comprised rice as the sol

source of protein, or regimes where 15 and 30% of the rice protein was

replaced with chicken. The partial replacement of rice with chicken

protein did not significantly affect the nitrogen balance of the

volunteers (in contrast to earlier experiments with rats which showed

that a rice diet did not sustain normal growth). In this human study,

even on the low-protein diet rice as the sole source provided between

2 and 4.5 times the WHO-recommended amounts of all essential amino

acids, except lysine - of which it supplied 1.5 times the suggested

level. On the higher protein diet, rice alone provided between two and

six times the essential amino acid levels suggested by the WHO, and

all subjects were in positive nitrogen balance.

When cornmeal was fed as virtually the sole source of protein to ten

male volunteers during a 100-day study it was found that at an intake

of 6g of nitrogen per day (approx. 36g protein) not all the subjects

were in positive nitrogen balance (11). Yet all the essential amino

acids were eaten in amounts which met or exceeded standard

requirements, with the exception of tryptophan - of which 91% was

provided. These results suggest that on a corn protein diet, non

specific nitrogen is the first limiting factor, not lack of esssential

amino acids.

The   position paper of the American Dietetic Association (12)

emphasized that, because amino acids obtained from food can combine

with amino acids made in the body it is not necessary to combine

protein foods at each meal. Adequate amounts of amino acids will be

obtained if a varied vegan diet - containing unrefined grains,

legumes, seeds, nuts and vegetables - is eaten on a daily basis.

These and other similar experiments show clearly that diets based

solely on plant sources of protein can be quite adequate and supply

the recommended amounts of all essential amino acids for adults, even

when a single plant food, such as rice, is virtually the sole source

of protein. The American Dietetic Association emphasizes that protein

combining at each meal is unnecessary, as long as a range of protein

rich foods is eaten during the day.


1. Food and Agriculture Organization/ World Health Organization/

 United Nations University (1985). 'Energy and protein requirements',

 WHO Technical Report Series 724. Geneva, WHO.

2. Department of Health and Social Security (1979). Recommended Daily

 Amounts of Food Energy and Nutritients for Groups of People in the

 United Kingdom. London, HMSO.

3. National Advisory Commitee on Nutrition Education

 (1983). Proposals for Nutritional Guidelines for Health Education in

 Britain. London, Health Education Council.

4. Vaghefi, S.B., Makdani, D.D. and Mickelsen, O. (1974). 'Lysine

 supplementation of wheat proteins, a review', Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 27,


5. Rose, W.C. and Wixom, R.L. (1955). 'The amino acid requirements

 of man. XIII The sparing effect of cystine on methionine

 requirement', J. Biol. Chem., 216, 763-773.

6. Lappe, F.M. (1976). Diet for a small planet. New York, Ballantine


7. Kofranyi, E., Jekat, F. and Muller-Wecker, H. (1970). 'The

 minimum protein requirements of humans, tested with mixtures of whole

 egg plus potatoes and maize plus beans', Z. Physiol. Chem., 351,


8. Clark, H.E., Malzer, J.L., Onderka, H.M., Howe, J.M. and Moon, W.

 (1973). 'Nitrogen balances of adult human subjects fed combinations

 of wheat, beans, corn, milk, and rice', Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 26,


9. Edwards, C.H., Booker, L.K., Rumph, C.H., Wright, W.G. and

 Ganapathy, S.N. (1971). 'Utilisation of wheat by adult man; nitrogen

 metabolism, plasma amino acids and lipids', Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 24,


10.  Lee, C., Howe, J.M., Carlson, K. and Clark,

 H.E. (1971). 'Nitrogen retention of young men fed rice with or without

 supplementary chicken', Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 24, 318-323.

11.  Kies, C., Williams, E. and Fox, H.M. (1965). 'Determination of

 first limiting nitrogenous factor in corn protein for nitrogen

 retention in human adults', J. Nutr., 86, 350-356.

12.  Havala, S. and Dwyer, J. ( ). 'Position of the American

 Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets - technical support paper',

 J. Am. Diet. Assn., 88, 352-355.

Frances Moore Lappe, author of DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET was one

of the influential voices that originally promulgated the "gospel" of

protein complementarity. After it was found to be unnecessary, she

corrected herself in a later edition of her book.

>From DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Frances

Moore Lappe, p 161-162:

"When I first wrote DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET in 1971, the idea that

people could live well without meat seemed much more controversial

than it does today. I felt I had to prove to nutritionists and

doctors that because we could combine proteins to create foods equal

in protein usability to meat, people could thrive on a nonmeat or

low-meat diet. Today, few dispute that people can thrive on this kind

of diet. In fact, more and more health professionals are actually

advocating less meat precisely for health reasons, reasons I discussed

in 'America's Experimental Diet.'

"In 1971 I stressed protein complementarity because I assumed that the only

way to get enough protein (without consuming too many calories) was to

create a protein as usable by the body as animal protein. In combatting

the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I

reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough

protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods.

Actually, it is much easier than I thought.

"With three important exceptions, there is little danger of protein

deficiency in a plant food diet. The exceptions are diet very heavily

dependent on fruit or on some tubers, such as sweet potatoes or

cassava, or on junk food (refined flours, sugars, and fat).

Fortunately, relatively few people in the world try to survive on

diets in which these foods are virtually the sole source of calories.





How important a question this is for many potential vegetarians ! Our

culture seems to be obsessed with obtaining enough protein. And yet

protein is one of the easiest nutrients to get. By an inappropriate

choice of foods, a person might be deficient in vitamins A or C ; but

it is almost impossible to be protein deficient on a calorically

adequate diet. To see why this is so, we need to look at protein

requirements as a percentage of calories.

Protein as a percentage of calories

Protein, fat, and carbohydrate - the three major components of common foods -

all contain calories, in about this ratio : -

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Thus, if a potato weighing 100 grams contains 76 calories and 2.1

grams of protein, we say that it contains 2.1*4 = 8.4 calories as

protein, or about 11% calories as protein. According to the National

Research Council, an adult male requires 2700 calories and 56 grams of

protein per day. The 56 grams of protein represent 224 calories, or

about 8.3% of calories as protein. For the adult female, the figure is

about the same :   calories and 44 grams of protein, or about 8.8%

of calories as protein.

If wheat has 17% of calories as protein, potatoes 11%, broccoli 45%,



WHEAT, AND BROCCOLI. In fact, of the common plant foods, almost all

provide more than 10% of calories as protein. Only the fruits, as a

rule, contain less; but this is not going to be a problem unless one

is trying to live on an all-fruit diet.


* *



* *



* *

* BROCCOLI 32 45 *

* CARROT 42 10 *

* CORN 96 15 *

* POTATO 76 11 *

* SQUASH 19 23 *

* CUCUMBER 15 24 *

* SWEET POTATO 114 6 *

* TOMATO 22 20 *

* PINTO BEANS 349 26 *

* CHICK PEAS 360 23 *

* LENTILS 340 29 *

* PEANUTS 564 18 *

* BARLEY 348 11 *

* RICE 360 8 *

* RYE 334 14 *

* WHEAT 330 17 *

* ALMOND 598 12 *

* WALNUT 628 13 *

* APPLE 56 1 *

* BANANA 85 5 *

* *

* ADULT RDA  -2700 8-9 *

* *


"But what about protein complementarity ?"

In 1971, a revolutionary new book came out espousing the virtues of a

meatless diet. It became a million-copy bestseller and convinced many

people to try vegetarianism or become vegetarians. That book was DIET

FOR A SMALL PLANET by frances Moore Lappe.

In her book, Lappe put forward as her central concept the idea of

"protein complementarity" - the idea that vegetarians should eat

different kinds of proteins at a single meal in order to get the same

quality of protein which was found in meat. Countless thousands of

vegetarians thereafter referred to Lappe's charts and tables and

struggled to understand the intricacies of balancing tryptophan,

lysine, methionine, and all the other amino acids. The basic idea was

this: while meat contains all of the amino acids, plant foods were

deficient in one or more of the eight "essential" amino acids.

Therefore, balance plant foods weak in one amino acid but strong in a

second amino acid, with other plant foods strong in the first but weak

in the second. Simple, right ? Well, simple to some people, but not

so simple to others, who eventually gave up the effort and went back

to a meat-based diet out of fear of missing one or another of the

amino acids. And yet the central thesis of this best-selling book,

one which even today many vegetarians believe in, is false. there's no

question that you need all of the amino acids. But virtually all plant

foods have ALL of the essential amino acids; and not only are the

amino acids there, they are present in more than enough quantity to

meet the needs of normal adults, if you are on a calorically adequate

diet. It's true that plant foods have more of the requirements of

amino acids than of others. Rice is strong in tryptophan, methionine,

and valine, and weak in isoleucine and lysine. But rice protein

sufficient to provide 100% of our quantitive protein needs, also

provides 265% of the adult male requirement for lysine and 266% of

that for isoleucine. (It provides 400% or more of all of the others.)

The same is true for virtually all other plant foods. In fact, some

plant foods which do not quite provide the requirement for total

protein, such as sweet potatoes, DO provide the minimum requirement

for ALL of the essential amino acids.

Rats and people

The whole idea of "protein complementarity" got started in 1914 when

Osborne and Mendel published a paper on rat nutrition. They noticed

that baby rats fed on a plant food diet did not grow as fast as other

rats who ate the same diet plus a lysine supplement. Conclusion: these

plant foods needed a lysine supplement.

Unfortunately, the nutritional requirements of rats and humans are

quite different, and this was quickly demonstrated by experiments on

humans. Studies in which humans have been fed wheat bread alone, or

potatoes alone, or corn alone, or rice alone, have ALL shown that

these plant foods contain not only enough protein, but enough of ALL

of the essential amino acids, to support growth and maintenance of

healthy adults. Particularly striking were the experiments involving

rice: not only was the rice protein more than adequate, it was

adequate when only about 2/3 of the calories were provided through the

rice. This means that the actual requirement of protein for most

individuals is actually less than 8% of calories as stated by the

National Research Council; the NRC has padded its figures with a

"safety factor" which many individuals do not need.

A few sample plant foods are shown with their "limiting amino acid"

content in the accompanying table. (Limiting amino acids are the amino

acids the food contains the LEAST of in relation to human nutritional



* *



* *

* % OF RDA *



* *

* CORN LYSINE 484% *


* *

* RICE LYSINE 265% *


* *


* *



* *



* *


Protein deficiencies ?

There ARE some ways you can become protein deficient, but it's pretty

hard. One way is not to get enough food. We sometimes see people in

famine areas with bloated bellies who ARE suffering from protein

deficiency. they are also suffering from deficiencies of calories,

iron, calcium, and vitamins A through Z. In short, they are "starving

to death," and their problem is not so much lack of protein as it is

lack of everything.

Another way to become protein deficient is to get almost all of your

calories from alcohol and/or sugar. Sugar contains no protein ! Hard

liquor contains virtually no protein (beer contains very small

amounts.) So if you are an alcoholic sugar junkie, you may be in

danger of protein deficiency. Another possible source of deficiency is

that infants may be fed foods which they cannot digest.

Because of the sufficiency, or overabundance, of plant protein, animal

products (milk, cheese, and eggs as well as meat, fish, and poultry)

are completely unnecessary for adequate protein nutrition. Breast

milk, incidentally, which has provided human infants with adequate

protein for hundreds of thousands of years, provides 6% of calories as

protein - far less than that of whole cow's milk, which contains 22%

of calories as protein.

Not only is plant protein sufficient, it is often SUPERIOR to animal

protein. Excessive protein consumption is now strongly linked to bone

weakness and osteoporosis. Studies done on calcium loss have shown

that as protein consumption increases, so does calcium loss. Not only

that, the protein in meat (which is higher in the sulphur-containing

amino acids) causes a GREATER calcium loss than the same quantity of

protein in soya beans ! So for preventing calcium loss and the

possibility of osteoporosis, plant protein is superior to animal



this is necessary is a myth. Frances Moore Lappe has now essentially

reversed herself on this issue, saying that getting enough protein "is

much easier than I thought." It's good to get a variety of foods,

because you need all the various vitamins and minerals - not because

of protein. If you get plenty of a variety of plant foods, regardless

of your combining techniques (or lack thereof,) and you get enough

calories (not too difficult for most of us,) it's almost impossible to

be protein deficient. Protein is one of the easiest nutrients to get.

- Written by Keith Akers.

Copy-typed by BRIAN from a leaflet produced by the Vegetarian Society of

Colorado, sent to me by Larry Kaiser of the "Veggie" list.



A complete protein is a single food that contains all eight of

the essential amino acids. The myth is that we have to

consume complete foods; that we can't take "incomplete"

foods and be healthy.

Now due to constant advertising, everybody knows that only meats are

complete foods, and thus the question that everyone knows the answer to:

"What's for dinner?" turns out that there are real foods (not as well known) that contain

all eight of the essential amino acids, such as:

Fruit: Bananas, Dates, tomatoes,

Nuts: Almonds, Coconuts, Filberts, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts, Brazil nuts,


Vegetables: Alfalfa Sprouts, Bean Sprouts, Carrots, Eggplants, Sweet

Potatoes, Broccoli, Cabbages, Corn, Okra & Squash

In addition, the body has what is termed an amino acid pool in the blood and

the liver that stores excess amino acids, both essential and nonessential, for

use when needed. Thus you do not need to eat a complete food, nor a

combination of foods at every meal.

When anything happens in this materialistic world of ours, it happens because

of the $. Figure out who benefits from an event, and you understand the why

behind: "XXXX builds strong bones and teeth", and similar advertising.

High-Protein Diets Dehydrate Even the Very Fit

Mon Apr 22  1:28 PM ET

By E. J. Mundell

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters Health) - High-protein diets place such a strain on the kidneys that even very fit athletes can become dehydrated, according to researchers.

"Personally, I would not recommend a protein intake of over 2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day, as it may have negative long-term effects," said researcher William Forrest Martin, a graduate student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He presented the findings here Monday at the Experimental Biology   conference.

High-protein diets have surged in popularity in recent years for their purported potential for quick weight loss. Most of these plans promise prompt results if devotees fill up on steak, bacon, fried eggs and other high-protein foods, while cutting back on carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, vegetables and fruit.

But the diets have their critics. For example, the American Heart Association recently issued a report that found that there was "no scientific evidence" that the diets actually worked to keep pounds off over the long term, and they may trigger unwanted side effects such as fatigue or dizziness.

In their study, Martin and his colleagues sought to determine the effects of such diets on hydration--the body's ability to distribute and retain a healthy amount of water. They had five very fit endurance runners consume low-, medium- and high-protein diets over three successive 4-week periods. During the high-protein diet phase, participants consumed about 30% of their total calories from foods such as eggs, steak and "power bars."

Blood tests conducted on the athletes 3 weeks into the diets revealed "that increasing protein intake led to a progression toward hypo- (low) hydration, and that a greater strain was placed upon the kidney due to the excessive levels of protein intake," according to Martin.

Speaking with Reuters Health, he explained that increased protein intake leads to an excess build-up of nitrogen in the blood. "In the end, the nitrogen ends up at the kidney in the form of urea where it needs to be filtered out and excreted in the urine."

The excessive urination triggered by high protein intake can easily lead to a hypohydrated state, even in the absence of symptoms. In fact, all of the runners in the study said they felt no more thirsty while on the high-protein diet compared with other regimens--even though their levels of hydration had fallen to below healthy levels.

Based on the findings, Martin advised active individuals to avoid getting a large percentage of their calories from meat, eggs and other protein-rich foods. But "if one does embark on a diet greater than about 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, I would suggest they increase their daily fluid intake to protect against dehydration," he said.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the average adult should consume between 8 to 12 cups of water per day.



Eating Vegetable Protein May Spare Gallbladder 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women who get a lot of their dietary protein from vegetables are at reduced risk for having their gallbladder removed, which is usually performed for gallstones and related problems, new research suggests

"In animals, vegetable protein can inhibit gallstone formation," Dr. Chung-Jyi Tsai, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues note. However, few studies have looked at this association in humans.

As reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers studied data from some 121,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study. Over 20 years of follow-up, 7831 women underwent gallbladder removal, also called cholecystectomy.

Total protein intake and animal protein intake had no effect on the risk of cholecystectomy. For vegetable protein, however, the risk of cholecystectomy dropped as intake increased.

"These results suggest that increased consumption of vegetable protein in the context of an energy-balanced diet can reduce the risk of cholecystectomy in women," the authors conclude.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, July 15 .


Livestock a major threat to environment


Rome - Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars?

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”


Devour the Earth -- By European Vegetarian Union. Narrated by Sir Paul McCartney. Soundtrack includes music by Reza Ganjavi.

We apologise for the reduced quality of footage, originally produced in   however, this in no way diminishes its credibility.

The facts contained within are as pressing today as ever before.

The consequence of our past irresponsible actions towards the environment is now experienced all over the globe, especially since the massive destruction of the environment has continued unabated from the time this film was first produced.

Devour the Earth

Narrated by Paul McCartney

No one knows how or why, but some 4000 million years ago the planet earth came into being.

In that time life has evolved on its surface and beneath in its waters and in its skies.

And time is running out.

Imagine the complete history of the world condensed into one year. A year which began on January the 1st.

A few days later the first bacteria emerged.

A miracle of evolution followed and every expanse of water, layer of mud and track of land is inhabited.

Jelly fish and spiders didn't make an appearance till the beginning of November. The first ferns popped up on November 20th.

About the same time as fish began inhabiting the waters, winged insects took to the air.

A few days later from December 1st to the 15th, dinosaurs ruled unchallenged.

At fifteen minutes to midnight on December 31st, human kind emerged.

Just 2 seconds ago, the start of the industrial revolution, we began an onslaught on the earth which brought it to its knees.


Wasted Food, Wasted Land

The environment is a finely woven mantle which is beginning to unravel before our eyes and meat-eating carries much of the blame.

We have no physical need to eat meat, yet the world now contains 3 times as many farm animals as humans.

Livestock have huge appetites for grass and corn and wheat, so much so that nearly 80% of all agricultured land in Britain is used to support them.

It takes as much as 10 kg of vegetable protein to produce one kg of meat. The most wasteful recycling program ever devised.

So demanding are they that the soil is pushed beyond its capacity to cope, force fed on a diet of pesticides and fertilizers.

Pesticides are poisons used to kill seeds, insects and fungi.

They can and do kill humans.

We know that they destroy species other than those they are aimed at and can upset the natural balance of ecosystems.

We know that they increase in concentration as bigger creatures eat smaller creatures.

A water bird like the grebe at the top of the food chain can have pesticides in its body 80 thousand times stronger than those in the water in which it lives.

We know that 50 of the chemicals used are suspected of causing cancer.

We know that meat contains about 14 times more residues than vegetables.

There are pesticide traces in almost all the food we eat.

We know that without the need to feed animals, farmers could return to crop rotation. They could farm organically and turn their backs on these nerve gas derivatives.

Constant demands on the land to produce more crops to feed more animals are unsustainable.

These hyped up production levels can be achieved only temporarily by swamping the soil with expensive nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Some nitrogen runs into rivers spurring the growth of algae, boosting the growth of bacteria and choking all life from the water.

Some floods down into underground reservoirs and yet if we stop eating animals the whole population could be fed from just 30% of the land with no need for chemical fertilizers.

It would breathe again, regenerate itself, recover its health.



38% of the grain in the world is fed to livestock.

On average, for every 10kg of grain fed to animals only 1kg of meat is produced - the rest becomes manure.


It takes more than twice as much land to feed a meat eater than it does a vegetarian, and half of that again is required to feed a vegan.

Britain alone could feed 250 million people on a pure vegetarian (vegan) diet.


If the whole world followed the USA-style diet, only half of the current population would be fed.



Rainforests in the world are breathtaking in their complexity.

They house over half the world's animal and plant species.

They given us many of our medicines: anaesthetics, anti-cancer drugs, the birth-control pill.

They hold the soil together, absorb rainfall and new growth feeds on the decay of the old.

They produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.

They are nature in balance. And our response is to destroy them.

Before 1950, 14% of the world's land was tropical rainforests, half is now gone and each year a further area the size of Britain disappears, and for what?

Largely to provide grazing land for cattle or to grow soya beans to feed to cattle, most of which comes to the developed countries.

In 7 years or so the land will be almost lifeless and barren.



Tropical forests are home to up to 90% of all the Earth's species.

Tropical forest is being destroyed at a rate of over 164,000 square kilometres per annum.


In Costa Rica 71% of all deforested land is pasture. Nepal has lost around half of its forest land in the last 20 years manly to sustain livestock.


Even newly cleared pasture can only sustain one head of cattle per hectare.

Latin America exported almost 8 million tonnes of soya beans in  , mainly to feed our cattle.


Global Warming

In   the crew of a space craft watched a smoke cloud from thousands of fires spread across a million square miles of Amazonia.

It was rainforest being cleared for cattle ranching.

With the burning of vegetation, huge reservoirs of stored carbon dioxide are unlocked, released to float upwards and provide yet more insulation to prevent heat escaping from the earth.

When the cattle arrive, each one belches out 60 litres of methane every day adding another twist to the spiral.

Together, burning and belching provide the 2nd largest contribution to the greenhouse effect.



Since 1970 the destruction of rainforests in Latin America has contributed over 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Methane gas is responsible for 18% of global warming, with the methane gas content of the atmosphere increasing by 1% per year.


18% of world methane emissions are from livestock. There are more than 1.3 billion cattle in the world.

26% of UK methane emissions are from livestock.


UK livestock emissions contribute 1.15 million tonnes of methane to global warming every year.


Soil Depletion

The United States, the world's largest consumer of meat has lost 1/3 of all its topsoil. Huge areas of the Western states can no longer support the agriculture and the land may well return to buffalo pasture.

Underground water supplies are depleted faster than they can be replenished with rain.

The soil ceases to provide even grazing and as they do, they consume more water in new places.

Livestock's demand for water is as destructive as its demand for food.

In the case of beef grown on irrigated pastures 12 times as demanding as vegetables.

In Britain, nearly 1/2 of all arable land is now at risk of erosion as intensive farming destroys the very structure of the soil.


Acid Rain

The world has a new problem - an endless supply of animal excreta, stored in slurry form a 100 times more polluting than human waste - it just keeps on accumulating, too prolific to be absorbed by the land.

Bacteria turns its ammonia into acid, it evaporates, joins with nitrous oxide from fertilizers, combines with industrial pollution and forms acid rain.

Its legacy is sour unproductive soil and dead and dying forests, rivers and lakes.

Almost forgotten in the avalanche of other environmental disasters, acid rain is devastating the northern habitats of Europe and America. In some countries, slurry is its principle cause.

An end to livestock production would dramatically slow the decay.



A single cow can produce 23 tonnes of manure a year.

10 pigs can produce 21 tonnes of manures a year.

Spread over the land this contributes to acid rain, soil and water pollution.


Ammonia from animal farming is recognised as a major cause of acid rain, causing over 70% of acidity in some areas.

In Holland, where livestock outnumbers humans by over 7 to 1, farmers have been told to reduce herds by a quarter to help save dying forests.


Suffering Seas

Trawlers and seine netters cross the world's oceans scooping out increasing numbers of ever smaller fish.

Heavy trawl boards smash their way across the ocean floor, destroying everything in their path.

Every year more countries scramble to join the killing fields of tuna drift netting and with each net go the lives of more whales and dolphins, rays and seabirds, turtles and sharks.

Some countries continue with their slaughter of whales. Mammals with a language more complex than our own, but of which we understand not one word.

Intensive factory farming has also come to the seas of Europe and it is salmon, mysterious migratory creatures which are the chosen captives.

It is like caging swallows.

Crammed into cages they can only survive with the use of antibiotics and pesticides and are made marketable by colouring their flesh with an additive banned in the USA. And to feed these imprisoned creatures, the seas are trawled for other fish, industrial fish.... 5 pounds to produce 1 pound of salmon meat.

PCBs are industrial chemicals, some of the most poisonous substances known, these now infect almost the whole of the oceans' food chain.



Nine of the world's 17 major fisheries are in serious decline. All of the others have reached their limits.

Worldwide 124 billion dollars are spent every year catching just 70 billion dollars worth of fish.


Recent surveys suggest that over 40% of fish caught in the North sea are diseased - often with cancerous tumours.

An estimated 240,000 tonnes of PCB's (effectively banned in the UK since 1980) are thought to have entered the world's oceans.


Strongly migratory salmon are factory farmed at stocking densities of 15kg per squaremetre.


Health + Welfare

Supposedly we are the most intelligent of all creatures, capable of complex feelings and what do we do?

We imprison other intelligent creatures in solitary confinement, until they go mad. We deny them the ability to fulfil their most basic instincts.

We treat their living, feeling young as inanimate commodities and then we eat them.

Restlessly wandering fowl are crammed into cages too small to even stretch their wings.

All are quickly fattened in damp, dark sheds often crippled by their ballooning weight and all face the same end in an automated production line and then we eat them.

Pain and suffering are relative concepts we are told, in the pursuit of cheap meat do not concern yourself, we are told, about the infections that come with cheap meat.... campylobacter, salmonella, mad cow disease. "Meat to Live" we are told, ignoring the heart disease and bowel cancer and other ailments which go hand in hand with eating meat.

Profit has no conscience, only a balance sheet.

In its name both animals and people are there to be exploited.



Heart disease is the major cause of death in the UK and the developed world.

Studies have shown vegetarians to suffer 30% less heart disease than meat eaters.


Cancer accounts for a quarter of all premature deaths in the UK.

At least one third of all cancers are directly related to diet. Many risk factors are significantly reduced on a vegetarian diet.


Research shows the incidence of colon, breast, prostate and other cancers is lower among vegetarians.

It's estimated that about 2,000,000 people suffer from food poisoning every year (in the UK). Almost all food poisoning is from meat + diary products.



In the last 2 seconds of our evolutionary year we have destroyed and poisoned in a rate unknown in the history of the earth.

Growth and consumption have caused the problem, yet we are told that even more growth and consumption can cure it.

Are we any richer, any happier, any more ennobled for all the death, the pain and the destruction?

We have bequeathed our children a world which contains less wonder than when we inherited it.

We have poisoned their water, polluted their air and laid most of their land waste.

We are handing them a world which to us looked certain, but is now teetering on the brink of catastrophe.

And still governments do nothing, but you can.

Simply by giving up meat, poultry, fish and slaughterhouse by-products, you'll make an immediate contribution to ending the pain, the cruelty and the destruction.

Stop the killing by becoming vegetarian, you have the choice.

You can help stop the cruelty and destruction today.

Join the Vegetarian Society. Join the fight for life.

Produced from: The Vegetarian Society, UK

Translations in other languages: Swiss Union for Vegetarianism, Bahnhofstr. 52, CH-9315 Neukirch-Egnach

Livestock a major threat to environment

Remedies urgently needed

Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars?




According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.


Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”


With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in  /  to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.


Long shadow


The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 percent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.


But such rapid growth exacts a steep environmental price, according to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow –Environmental Issues and Options. “The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level,” it warns.


When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.


And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.


Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.


Land and water


At the same time herds cause wide-scale land degradation, with about 20 percent of pastures considered as degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. This figure is even higher in the drylands where inappropriate policies and inadequate livestock management contribute to advancing desertification.


The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs. The major polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed.


Livestock are estimated to be the main inland source of phosphorous and nitrogen contamination of the South China Sea, contributing to biodiversity loss in marine ecosystems.


Meat and dairy animals now account for about 20 percent of all terrestrial animal biomass. Livestock’s presence in vast tracts of land and its demand for feed crops also contribute to biodiversity loss; 15 out of 24 important ecosystem services are assessed as in decline, with livestock identified as a culprit.




The report, which was produced with the support of the multi-institutional Livestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative, proposes explicitly to consider these environmental costs and suggests a number of ways of remedying the situation, including:


Land degradation – controlling access and removing obstacles to mobility on common pastures. Use of soil conservation methods and silvopastoralism, together with controlled livestock exclusion from sensitive areas; payment schemes for environmental services in livestock-based land use to help reduce and reverse land degradation.


Atmosphere and climate – increasing the efficiency of livestock production and feed crop agriculture. Improving animals’ diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, and setting up biogas plant initiatives to recycle manure.


Water – improving the efficiency of irrigation systems. Introducing full-cost pricing for water together with taxes to discourage large-scale livestock concentration close to cities.


These and related questions are the focus of discussions between FAO and its partners meeting to chart the way forward for livestock production at global consultations in Bangkok this week. These discussions also include the substantial public health risks related to the rapid livestock sector growth as, increasingly, animal diseases also affect humans; rapid livestock sector growth can also lead to the exclusion of smallholders from growing markets.

Illegal growth hormones in veal spark crackdown

Elizabeth Weise

Revelations that up to 90 percent of U.S. veal calves are being fed synthetic testosterone illegally are sending a shock wave through the meat industry, causing a government crackdown and new worries about the impact of hormones on the food supply.