Nourishment is essential for life. Unlike many species, humans are omnivorous (i.e., both carnivorous and herbivorous.) In the case of the human animal, the optimum balance between meat and non-meat diet has not been conclusively established. Yet, one thing is clear; consumption of excess animal fat causes constriction of blood vessels in the human body, increasing the likelihood of hypertension (high blood pressure). High cholesterol level means the amount of fat within the blood stream is high and not healthy. Strict vegetarians, the vegans, argue there is absolutely no need to consume neither meat nor any other animal bi-products to have a healthy and balanced diet!
To be sure, there are cultures that have avoided consumption of meat for eons (Hindus, etc.) Plenty of modern researches support the vegetarian life style, as healthier than a high fat diet that includes not only meat, but also rich seafood. It seems the enlightened human community has started to reduce or even completely avoid the consumption of animal fat in its various forms. If nutrition science recommends a low fat diet for humans, why do the majority of people in the West stick to a high level of meat/fat consumption? The answer lies not in the scientific domain but rather in the irrationality of the profit system. Don’t forget; so long as there is money to be made, the existing world system will have no qualm in selling poison to humans, so to speak. Remember the three white devils? Fat, sugar and flour (wheat.) Many products that have high level of refined sugar or artificial sweeteners are promoted and sold as if they were heaven on earth. Soft drinks and all sorts of sweets belong to this category. Just observe the amount of money that is being spent to prod the global youth into becoming sugar junkies! See Hedges article next column and other on page 44 & 46.
In addition to the above health problems, the production of meat, particularly ‘red meat’, involves many unsavory processes that contribute, rather significantly, to the degradation of our environment, particularly the atmosphere! The green house gases that are released to the atmosphere due to global animal husbandry is very significant compared to many of the emissions from many industrial processes! In the so-called developing countries, feeding domestic animals is still done the traditional way, i.e., animals are allowed to graze the meadow and are not always confined to the barn, exasperating the problem of soil erosion. Ethiopia with one of the largest livestock population in the world (number one in Africa) has been a victim of such practices going back centuries. Grazing has caused continuous soil erosion and the depletion of biodiversity all over the world. What should be done?
From the perspective of both human health as well as the wellbeing of the planet, it is advisable if humans can cut down on their consumption of meat and its byproducts. In this regard, our excessive consumption of meat, particularly in the more affluent urban communities of Ethiopia, like Addis, must be significantly reduced. These days it is not unusual to see young people, even in their twenties afflicted by high level of cholesterol and blood pressure! Diabetes is becoming an epidemic in certain localities, according to health professionals. To this end, we believe the government should levy an excise tax that is commensurate with that of other needless consumptions. We believe, sin taxes, like levies on alcohol or tobacco must be imposed on excessive meat consumption. These taxes should be levied, mostly on in situ consumption of ‘raw meat’ and ‘tibs’! The measure, besides helping to contribute to the overall health of the nation, will provide the state with an additional source of revenue, if collected effectively and honestly!
Despite incessant pressure from narrow interests, blinded by the money god, we never tire of telling the truth to the public at large, especially if we deem it useful. “Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone.” John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 6th US President. Good Day!