Time to rethink our eating habits

Pakistanis love their food, and meat is a central component of most Pakistani food recipes

It may be time, however, to reconsider our meat-eating habits due to health concerns, as well as ecological and ethical imperatives

Yes, animals eat other animals, and humans have been consuming animal meat and other products (dairy and eggs) from the time before civilisation began

However, hunters and gatherers relied much more frequently on gathering than on hunting animals

The scale of animal product consumption has risen sharply over time, and the ways in which we treat animals has also become increasingly problematic

Increasing commodification has led animals to be reared and slaughtered in inhumane conditions

Many poorer countries don’t even adequately follow hygiene standards aiming to regulate animal rearing, milk production, and slaughter practices

For the Muslim world, the Islamic injunction for halal slaughter is not supposed to be confined to the method of slaughter, it should also prevent animal cruelty

Halal injunctions stipulate that animal must be killed as quickly and humanely as possible, and that they should not be frightened at slaughter by sharpening the knife or killing another animal in front of them

Go to any local butchery or even a slaughterhouse in most Muslim countries, and it will be clear that these latter principles are not being followed

While meat provides essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and proteins, red meat especially increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers

Poultry and livestock are pumped full of antibiotics to increase productivity, and much of the fish consumed has high levels of mercury

The meat industry also has major ecological impacts

The meat and dairy industries have a major carbon footprint, accounting for around 14

5% of global greenhouse gas emissions

Half the farmland in the world is used to sustain livestock and grow their feed

This ecological burden is worsening deforestation, biodiversity loss and increased use of chemical farming

Besides the environmental or health consequences of consuming meat and other animal products, another reason compelling people to change their eating habits is sympathy for animals

The inhumane confinement and slaughter of animals and the extractive way in which livestock is kept in a constant state of lactation to provide milk and dairy products in rich and poor countries alike is disturbing if one thinks about animals as living beings

Given the varied nutritional value that can be readily obtained from an exclusively plant-based diet, vegetarianism and veganism has become a growing trend across many countries

Vegans differ from vegetarians in that they do not only avoid meat but also dairy and other animal products including eggs, and even honey

There is no consolidated data available on the number of vegans or vegetarians around the world

A survey conducted by Ipsos Mori advisory group in 2018 estimated that 3% of the world population is vegan, 5% vegetarian, and 14% flexitarian i


those who occasionally eat meat

But much of the data for this survey was obtained from the developed world

In countries like India, for instance, vegetarianism is quite common

In other poorer countries, including our own, and many others, flexitarian is an economic necessity

Conversely, however, meat eating is a status symbol

With rising incomes, as in China, meat-eating has been increasing steadily over the recent past

With more vegan or vegetarian consumers, there is a growing range of food options available in supermarkets and restaurants in richer countries at least, which now actively cater to this growing consumer demand

In the developing world, market mechanisms may be more lethargic but there is nothing preventing us from rethinking our obsession with meat and revitalising traditional eating habits which were much less meat dependent

For those unwilling to stop animal product consumption altogether, it is still possible to try being more flexitarian which would also help save billions of animals being reared and confined for producing meat, dairy, and eggs, which is not essential for human beings to obtain the nutrition needed to lead healthy lives

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2022

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Date:15-Jan-2022 Reference:View Original Link