Is beef still an essential part of
our diet? Or is growing awareness
of the hidden environmental and
health costs of beef consumption
leading more and more Americans
beyond beef? To help you understand
this important new trend,
we have prepared this briefing kit of
facts about rainforest destruction,
resource depletion, global warming,
world hunger, human disease,
animal suffering and other
compelling reasons why more
Americans are eating less beef.



Most people know that beef consumption plays a major role in the development of heart disease, strokes, and cancer. But the over-consumption of beef is also a major cause of human hunger and poverty, deforestation. spreading deserts, water pollution, water scarcity, global warming, species extinction, and animal suffering.

We in the United States are a big part or the problem. Americans consume almost a quarter of all the beef produced in the world. Every 24 hours 100,000 cattle are slaughtered in the United States; the average American consumes the meat of seven 1,100- pound animals in his or her lifetime.


Each year, the death toll continues to mount for consumers of beef and other red meats. According to a report by the U.S. Surgeon General, more than 70 percent of deaths in this country -- more than 1.5 million annually -- are related to diet, particularly the over- consumption of beef and other foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Study after study confirms that consumption of red meat is a primary factor in the development of heart disease, strokes, and colon and breast cancer. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that people reduce their consumption of red meat and other animal-derived foods, and eat more grain, fresh vegetables, and fruits instead.

Recently, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that beef contains the highest concentration of herbicides of any food sold in America. The NAS also found that beef ranks second only to tomatoes as the food posing the greatest cancer risk due to pesticide contamination, and ranks third of all foods in insecticide contamination. Aside from smoking, there is probably no greater personal health risk than eating too much beef and other meat.


The beef addiction of the United States and other industrialized nations has set off a global food crisis. Today, hundreds of millions of cattle are being fed precious grain so that American and European consumers can enjoy the pleasures of "marbled" beef. Meanwhile, nearly one billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and between 40 and 60 million people -- mostly children -- die each year from starvation and related diseases

Currently, more than 70 percent of the U.S. grain harvest -- and more than one third of the grain produced in the world is fed to cattle and other livestock. We could provide proper nourishment to more than a billion people if we used the world's agricultural lands to grow food for human consumption rather than feed for cattle and other livestock.


Forests, particularly the rain forests of Central American and the Amazon, are being burned and cleared to make way for cattle pasture. Since 1960, more than 25 percent of the Central American forests have been lost to beef production -- most of it for export to the United States and Europe. It has been estimated that for every quarter-pound fast-food hamburger made from Central American beef, 55 square feet of tropical forest -- including 165 pounds of unique species of plants and animals -- is destroyed.

Today, the world's 1.3 billion cattle are stripping vegetation and compacting and eroding soil, thus creating deserts out of grasslands. More than 60 percent of the world's rangelands have been damaged by overgrazing during the past half century. In the United States, cattle have done more to alter the environment of the West than all the highways, dams, strip mines, and power plants put together.

Cattle production is a major cause of water pollution. In the United States, cattle produce nearly one billion tons of organic waste each year. It has been estimated that cattle and other livestock account for a significant percentage of pollutants in the nation's rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers. Raising cattle also requires vast amounts of water. Nearly half the water consumed in the United States is used to grow feed for cattle and other livestock -- while our precious stores of fresh water dwindle at an alarming rate.

The grain-fed cattle complex is now a significant factor in the generation of three major gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide -- that are responsible for global warming. The burning of the world's forests for cattle pasture has released billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The world's 1.3 billion cattle and other ruminant livestock emit 60 million tons of methane through their digestive systems directly into the atmosphere each year. Moreover, to produce feed crops for cattle requires the use of petro-chemical fertilizers which emit vast amounts of nitrous oxide. These gases are building up in the atmosphere, blocking heat from escaping the planet, and could cause a global climate change of cataclysmic proportions in the next century.

Cattle and beef production is contributing significantly to the dramatic loss of biodiversity, including species extinction, now occurring across the globe. In all major cattle producing countries, wildlife habitat is being destroyed to create cattle pasture, as in the rain forests of Central America, or the huge cattle population is destroying habitat and using up food and water needed by wildlife. In the United States and Australia, cattle ranching has resulted in the purposeful mass extermination of predator and "nuisance" species -- a virtual war on wildlife. In Africa, millions of wild animals have died of thirst or starvation after finding their migratory paths blocked by fences built to contain cattle.


Cattle are exposed to harsh living conditions, rough handling, and often outright abuse and cruelty throughout their short lives. Cattle are routinely castrated, dehorned, and hot-iron branded without anesthestics. Cattle released on the open range must fend for themselves for several months, often succumbing to weather extremes and other dangers. Animals transported to feedlots and slaughterhouses are often shocked with electric prods, beaten, kicked, dragged and deprived of food and water for long periods. Overcrowded trucks cause broken limbs; injured and sick animals are routinely dragged out of trucks and onto the kill floor where slaughter techniques remain primitive and brutal.

The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the sickness, injury, and premature death of cattle represents an economic loss of $4.6 billion a year in the United States.


Q. Don't people need to eat beef in order to stay healthy?

A. People don't need to eat beef or any other meat in order to stay healthy. In fact, just the opposite is true. There is abundant evidence which indicates that people who eat little or no, meat have fewer ilincsses and live longer than large consumers of meat.

People who eat little or no meat should eat a variety of other foods in order to meet their nutritional needs. However, the health risks of significantly reducing or eliminating animal- derived products from the diet are miniscule compared with those associated with overconsumption of beef and other meats. Those risks include heart disease, cancer and strokes. There has been no mass exodus to hospital emergancy rooms by vegetarians. However, 4,000 Americans suffer heart attacks every day -- many of them induced by the overconsumption of saturated fat and cholesterol.

In recent years, a growing number of physicians, athletes, bodybuilders, and others who are knowledgeable and concerned about health matters have reduced their consumption of meat or eliminated meat from their diets altogether.

Q. You're asking people to replace much of the beef in their diets with grains, vegetables, and fruits -- isn't Beyond Beef just a vegetarian campaign in disguise?

A. The Beyond Beef Campaign is advocating at least a 50 percent cut in beef consumption in order to reduce human hunger and poverty, environmental destruction, animal suffering, and damage to human health. Some members of the Beyond Beef coalition are vegetarians and advocate vegetarianism. Other coalition members are meat-eaters who see nothing wrong with eating small amounts of meat which has come from animals who have been humanely and sustainably raised under strict organic standards.

The beef we eliminate from our diets should not be replaced with another kind of grain-fed meat because the intensive production and consumption of other domestic animals also has many destructive effects. Eating high on the flood chain is cosly to the earth and its inhabitants.

If people reduce their beef consumption. replace at least half of the beef they used to eat with sustainably and organically raised grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits, and refine their eating habits to select only humanely and sustainably raised beef when they do eat meat, the world and all its inhabitants will be much better off.

Q. Why does human hunger and malnutrition exist in a world of plenty?

A. There are many reasons why people are hungry; however, the misuse of agricultural land and the diversion of grain to feed livestock instead of people are primary causes of hunger in the world today.

Every nation on Earth has the resources -- enough good agricultural land -- to more than adequately feed its people. But much too much of that land is devoted to the grazing of cattle and other livestock, or to growing feed for livestock rather than food for people. Nearly half of the world's land is being used as pasture for cattle and other livestock. In addition, hundreds of millions of acres of arable land are being used to grow feed for livestock.

Even Ethiopia at the height of its famine in 1984 was using some of its arricultural land to produce linseed cake, cottonseed cake, and rapeseed meal for export to feed livestock in Europe.

Currently, one third of the world's grain is fed to livestock. In the United States, 70 percent of the grain produced is fed to livestock; and two thirds of all the grain the United States exports to other countries goes to feed livestock rather than hungry people.

This misappropiation of resources is the direct result of economic policies and programs adopted by the developing world at the urging of the industrial nations, multi-national corporations, and international aid-givers.

The United States has encouraged developing countries to climb the protein ladder in order to provide a marhet for surplus American grain. At the same time, developing countries have heen encouraged to enter the world commodities market with livestock feed to pay off their considerable debt to the first world. Today, production of livestock and livestock feed for the world market is supplanting the production of staple foods in many developing countries.

In Mexico, for example, where millions of people are chronically under-nourished, one third of the grain produced is fed to livestock. In Brazil, where 23 percent of the cultivated land is now being used to grow soybeans -- half of which is destined for export for livestock feed -- less land is available to grow corn and black beans, staples of the Brazilian peasant diet. The result has been less food at higher prices for an increasingly hungry and impoverished population.

Q. You claim that cattle are eating grain and other products such as soybeans that could feed hungry people. But don't cattle just eat materials that aren't fit for human consumption?

A. In the United States, the average animal in the feedlot system is fed about 42 percent forage with the remainder -- about 58 percent -- being grain.

During the first part of their lives, cattle are set loose on the range to graze on grasses and other plants inedible by humans. The average cow eats 900 pounds of vegetation a month.

Cattle are then transported to feedlots where they are fattened on grain. Today, more than 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States -- and one third of all the grain produced in the world is fed to cattle and other livestock. If the land used to produce feed grain were used to produce grain for human consumption, hundreds of millions of people could be fed.

Some cattle are also fed agricultural by-products. such as corn stalks, that are inedible by humans, as well as manure scrapings from hog and chicken intensive confinement "factory" farms. Some feedlots have begun experimenting feeding cattle cement dust, cardboard, paper, and industrial oils and wastes. Such "foods" do not deprive human beings of nourishment; however, it might be difficult to work up an appetite for beef raised on organic and industrial wastes.

Q. Isn't it true that only a tiny fraction of America's beef comes from the rain forests?

A. While less than 2 percent of all beef consumed in the United States comes from areas that were formerly Central American rain forests, this beef compromises most of Central America's beef exports. What is insignificant to the United States is of tremendous consequence to our southern neighbors.

Historically, the United States has been the largest consumer of Central American beef, a pattern that continues today. For example, 97 percent of Guatemala's beef exports go to the United States. Although our imports from the region as a whole have declined by more than 50 percent since 1975, the United States still imports considerable quantities of meat from Central America and southern Mexico. In 199O, those imports totaled about 50,000 tons of beef, enough to nnake more than 440 million quarter-pound hamburgers.

Although rain forest beef imports comprise only a fraction of all the beef, consumed in the United States, the environmental and human toll this "small" amount takes in Central America is enormous. Americans could easily forego the beef we import from Central America. Stopping our beef imports from this region, however, could save the remaining rain forests from further destruction and could make more land available to peasants for low-impact farming.

Q. Aren't uou overstating your claims that cattle contribute to global warming?

A. We don't think so. Cattle production contributes significantly to the production of three gases -- carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane -- whose build-up in the atmosphere blocks heat from leaving the earth and thereby causes global warming.

Large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere whenever forests and other biomass are burned to create cattle pasture. In 1987, about 1.2 hillion tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere from clearing and burning the forests of the Amazon, in large part to create pasture for cattle. In that year alone, deforestation in the Amazon contributed 9 percent of the total worldwide contribution to global warming from all sources. Additional gases are released by the annual burning of grasslands and agricultural wastes created by growing livestock feed.

More CO2 is created by our highly mechanized agriculture which uses up huge amounts of fossil fuels. With 70 percent of all U.S. grain production now devoted to livestock feed, the energy burned just to produce the feed represents a significant addition to CO2. It now takes the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline to produce a pound of grain-fed beef in the United States. To sustain the yearly beef habit of an average family of four requires the consumption of more than 260 gallons fuel. When that fuel is burned it releases 2.5 tons of additional carbon dioxide as much CO2 as the average car emits in six months.

Moreover, producing feed crops for grain-fed cattle requires the use of petrochemical fertilizers that emit nitrous oxide. In the past forty years, the use of chemical fertilizers has increased dramatically. Nitrous oxitie released from fertilizer and other sources now accounts for 6 percent of the global warming effect.

Finally, cattle emit methane, a potent global warming gas, through belching and fatulation. While methane is also emitted from peat bogs, rice paddies, and landfills, the increase in the livestock population and the burning of forests and other biomass accounts for much of the increase in methane emissions over the past several decades. Methane emissions are responsible for 18 percent of the global warming trend.

Because a methane molecule traps 25 times as much heat from the sun as a molecule of CO2 some scientists predict that methane may become the primary global warming gas in the next fifty years. Already, scientists estimate that more than 500 million tons of methane may be released into the air each year. The world's 1.3 billion cattle and other ruminant livestock emit about 60 million tons of the total, or 12 percent of all the methane released into the atmosphere. The burning of forests, grasslands, and agricultural wastes releases an additional 50 to 100 million tons of methane.

Q. You claim that cattle frequently withstand rough treatment and even cruelty. But don't beef producers' have to treat their animals well since they depend upon them for their livelihood?

A. Certainly it is in the producer's interest to bring healthy, intact animals to market; but for the most part, cattle producers' concern for animals begins and ends with profit. The beef industry is big business, and the animals unfortunate enough to be caught up in it are often treated as commodities, not as the sensitive living creatures they are. There is often a wide gap between the minimum care that producers' must provide to their animals in order to turn a profit and the actual needs of the animals.

Much of the suffering endured by cattle is inflicted simply to make life easier for ranchers. For example, castration, dehorning, and hot-iron branding -- all performed without anesthetics do not benefit the animals; they make the animals easier to control and identify. Cattle and other livestock also often withstand brutal handling; they are frequently shocked with electric prods, kicked, beaten, poked, and dragged.

Transportation of cattle and other farm animals is a major animal welfare problem. Overcrowded trucks, failure to properly water and reed the animals during long trips, exposure to temperature extremes en route, and rough handling result in millions of dollars of losses for the meat industry each year.

The industry does try to recoup as much of the loss as possible, however. "Downers," animals who are so badly injured during transportation they cannot walk off the trucks, are often chained by the neck or a leg and dragged to the slaughterhouse floor where they may wait hours in great pain to be butchered.

Animals who arrive at stockyards too sick to be slaughtered are often thrown onto what is called the "dead pile" and left to die of thirst, starvation, or freezing temperatures. All these abuses have been documented on videotape and on film by animal protection organizations.

Financial losses represented by thousands of sick and injured animals are merely written off by the industry as a cost of doing business. To humanely euthanize such animals would further cut into industry profits.

Q. If cattle and beef producers' treated their animals badly, wouldn't they be charged with cruelty under the anti-cruelty laws?

A. There is no federal law to ensure that famrm animals have proper care, suitable living conditions, or protection from abuse and cruelty.

0n the federal level, there are only two laws that pertain to farm animals: the Humane Slaughter Act and the Twenty-eight Hour Law. The first requires animals to be stunned before slaughter -- except for kosher and other religious slaughter. The second, which pertains only to the approximately 5 percent of animals who are transported by rail and over water, requires that animals be given rest food, and water if they are in transit more than twenty-eight hours.

The federal Animal Welfare Act specifically exempts from its protections animals used for food and fiber --- except when such animals are used in biomedical and other laboratory experiments.

Animals used for food and fiber are also speci fically exempted from many state anti-cruelty laws. In other states, beef industry husbandry and handling pactices that are considered routine -- such as castration without anesthesia, and even dragging downers to the slaughterhouse floor -- are either implicitly not covered by anti-cruelty laws or not enforced. Few prosecutors in cattle-producing states would consider bringing cruelty charges against powerful cattlemen.

In many states, if a cattle rancher were to treat his dog as he routinely treats his cattle, he would likely be arrested, tried, fined and/or imprisoned, and his dog would be confiscated. The uneven application of anti-cruelty laws reflects the blind eye that society casts toward animals used for food.

Q. How will the Beyond Beef campaign affect the family farm?

A. The family farm has been among the chief victims of the powerful beef industry lobby; every small farmer in America knows this. For years, the beef lobby has been able to secure cheap subsidized feed at the expense of American farmers whose costs of production often exceed the price of feed set by the government. Small scale ranchers are also exploited by the beef industry giants who are now able to control and manipulate the price of beef through various market arrangements.

While Beyond Beef is asking people to cut their beef consumption in half, the campaign is also encouraging consumers to demand humanely and sustainably raised beef when they do eat meat. The Beyond Beef campaign will help preserve the family farm by providing a new market niche for beef that has come from cattle who are humanely raised under sustainable, organic standards. It is impossible to raise cattle under such standards in giant corporate feedlots: only the family farm is capable of filling this new market. Small farmers are encouraged to make a transition to humane, sustainable husbantlry practices to fill this new and important need.

The Beyond Beef campaign is also advocating a bold new farm policy in the United States -- one that encourages a transition from feed to food production by rewarding the nation's small farmers with higher prices for growing food for human consumption. We believe that it is past time for the government to move its priorities away from policies and programs that subsidize feed for livestock and toward programs that subsidize food production for needy human beings, The Government should greatly expand its aid programs to distribute grain surpluses to needy people at home and abroad.

Q. What about beef industry workers?

Beef industry workers are among the most exploited inhumanely treated workers in the United States. Meat-packers, for example, suffer from one of the highest rates of injury of all occupations. Working conditions are often dehumanizing and primitive. Employee turnover is as high as 4.7 percent a month at some plants -- a situation that is often deliberately encouraged in order to discourage union activity. According to Eleanor Kennelly of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, "A meat- packing plant is like nothing you've ever seen or could imagine. it's like a vision of hell."

The Beyond Beef coalition believes that, given a choice of jobs, most workers would not choose to do the grisly, miserable, dangerous work of slaughtering and butchering animals. Beyond Beef supports extended employment compensation and free education and retraining, for all beef industry workers who lose their jobs as a result of a reduction in beef consumption. Beyond Reef supports union efforts to help their members and advocates the setting up of a "superfund" for all workers who are displaced as a result of enlightened social change and the enactment of environmental protection and other laws.

Q. How can reducing the amount of beef I eat contribute to solving the world's problems?

A. Cutting down on the number of hamburgers you eat won't solve all the world's problems -- but it would be a great start. One of the most eflective thing each of us can do to improve life on the planet is to reduce our consumption of meat -- especially beef.

Imagine what would happen if every American decided today to cut his or her beef consumption in half.

First, millions of animal lives would be spared. The average American currently consumes the meat of seven cows during his or her lifetime. By cutting our beef consumption in half, each of us would save at least three animals from being born into a life of suffering and violent death.

Next, our personal health would improve. By reducing beef consumption and replacing at least half the beef we eat with grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, we would reduce our intaks of saturated fat and cholesterol and thereby reduce the likelihood of developing, and dying from, heart disease, cancer, and other ailments. We would feel better, live longer, and the nation's health costs would plummet.

The global environment would also benefit. The beef-production assault would slow, and the world's forests, soil, water, air, and species would have a reprieve -- a chance to regenerate themselves.

A 50 percent reduction in beef consumption would also free more agricultural land that could be used to grow food for hungry people. And cutting U.S. beef imports in half would help free some lands around the world for use by indigenous populations to grow their own food.

Many Americans have been looking for a way to make a personal contribution to the wellbeing of the planet. Reducing our consumption of beef is an empowering and powerful act. By changing our diets, we can change the world.



Cattle and beef production is a primary threat to the global environment. It is a major contributor to deforestation, soil erosion and desertification, water scarcity, water pollution, depletion of fossil fuels, global warming, and loss of biodiversity.


Soil Erosion and Desertification

Water Scarcity

Water Pollution

Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Global Warming

Loss of Biodiversity




Beef contains high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat and is frequently contaminated by chemicals and disease. Beef may be one of the more unhealthy foods on the market today.




Beef production causes human hunger and poverty by diverting grain and cropland to support livestock instead of people. In developing countries, beef production perpetuates and intensifies poverty and injustice, particularly if beef or livestock feed is produced for export.




"If you step back and look at the data, the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero."
-- WALTER WILLETT, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital,
director of a study that found a close correlation between red
meat consumption and colon cancer
"Usually, the first thing a country does in the course of economic development is to introduce a lot of livestock. Our data are showing that this is not a very smart move and the Chinese are listening. They are realizing that animal-based agriculture is not the way to go....We are basically a vegetarian species and should be eating a wide variety of plant food and minimizing our intake of animal foods....
"Once people start introducing animal products into their diet, that's when the mischief starts."
-- T. COLIN CAMPBELL, PH.D., of Cornell University, director of
a study of 6,500 Chinese that found a close correlation between
meat consumption and the incidence of heart disease and cancer
"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of 'real food for real people,' you'd better live real close to a real good hospital."
-- NEAL. D. BARNARD, M.D., President, Physicians Committee
for Responsihle Medicine. Washington, D.C.
"When we kill the animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings."
-- William C. Roberts, M.D., editor ofThe American Journal
of Cardiology
"All red meat contains saturated fat. There is no such thing as truly lean meat. Trimming away the edge ring of fat around a steak really does not lower the fat content significantly. People who have red meat (trimmed or untrimmed) as a regular feature of their diets suffer in far greater numbers from heart attacks and strokes."
-- MICHAEL KLAPER, M.D., Medical Director,
EarthSave Foundation, Santa Cruz, California
"The thousands of people who have suffered food poisoning after eating beef will, no doubt, appreciate that their beef was aesthetically acceptable, even though it made them ill. 'Lovely to look at, dangerous to eat' is not a standard that is likely to help beef sales."
-- CAROL TUCKER FOREMAN, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture
during the Carter administration, commenting on the inadequacy
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Streamlined (Meat)
inspection System (SIS)
"As happened with tobacco, health warnings about meat eating are multiplying, and awareness of the environmental effects of meat production is rising. Just as cigarettes lost their allure, meat is losing its social cachet in some countries. Food marketers in the United Kingdom estimate that 2 million people in that country are strict vegetarians. More important, the number of people limiting meat in their diets is rising rapidly. An estimated 6 million people in the United Kingdom dine on meatless meals most of the time."
Animal Farming and the Environment, Worldwatch Institute,
Washington, D.C., 1991


"An alien ecologist observing... Earth might conclude that cattle is the dominant animal species in our biosphere."
-- DAVID HAMILTON WRIGHT, PH.D., Emery University biologist
"The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and subdivision developments combined."
-- PHILIP FRADKIN in Audubon, National Audubon Society,
New York, New York
"Most of the public lands in the West, and especially the Southwest, are what you might call 'cow burnt.' Almost anywhere and everywhere you goin the American West you find hordes of [cows]....They are a pest and a plague. They pollute our springs and streams and rivers. They infest our canyons, valleys, meadows, and forests. They graze off the native bluestems and grama and bunch grasses, leaving behind jungles of prickly pear. They trample down the native forbs and shrubs and cacti. They spread the exotic cheatgrass, the Russian thistle, and the crested wheat grass. Weeds. Even when the cattle are not physically present, you see the dung and the flies and the mud and the dust and the general destruction. If you don't see it, you'll smell it. The whole American West Stinks of cattle."
-- The late EDWARD ABBEY, conservationist and author, in a
speech before cattlemen at the University of Montana in 1985
"You can buy the land out there now for the same price as a couple of bottles of beer per acre. When you've got half a million acres and 20,000 head of cattle, you can leave the lousy place and go live in Paris, Hawaii, Switzerland, or anywhere you choose."
-- American rancher who owns grazing land in the Amazon,
descrihing the attitude of cattle colonists in the Brazilian rain
"We got hooked on grain-fed meat just as we got hooked on gas guzzling automobiles. Big cars 'made sense' only when oil was cheap; grain-fed meat 'makes sense' only because the true costs of producing it are not counted."
-- FRANCES MOORE LAPPE , in Diet for a Small Planet
"A reduction in beef and other meat consumption is the most potent single act you can take to halt the destruction of our environment and preserve our natural resources. Our choices do matter. What's healthiest for each of us personally is also healthiest for the life support system of our precious, but wounded planet."
-- JOHN ROBBINS, author of Diet for a New America, and
President, EarthSave Foundation, Santa Cruz, California


"It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the overpopulation of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat."
-- JEREMY RIFKIN, author of Beyond Beef, The Rise and Fall of
the Cattle Culture, and President of the Greenhouse Crisis
Foundation, Washington, D.C.
"A meat-fed world now appears a chimera. World grain production has grown more slowly than population since 1984, and farmers lack new methods for repeating the gains of the 'green revolution.' Supporting the world's current population of 5.4 bilion people on an American-style diet would require two-and-a-half times as much grain as the world's farmers produce for all purposes. A future world of 8 billion to 14 billion people eating the American ration of 220 grams of grain-fed meat a day can be nothing but a flight of fancy."
Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C.
"There can be no question that more hunger can be alleviated with a given quantity of grain by completely eliminating animals [from the food production process]. About 2,000 pounds of concentrates [grains] must be supplied to livestock in order to produce enough meat and other livestock products to support a person for a year, whereas 400 pounds of grain (corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, etc.) eaten directly will support a person for a year. Thus, a given quantity of grain eaten directly will feed 5 times as many people as it will if it is first fed to livestock and then is eaten indirectly by humans in the form of livestock products...."
-- M.E. ENSMINGER, PH.D., internationally recognized animal
agriculture specialist, former Department of Animal Science
Chairman at Washington State University, currently President of,
Consultants-Agriservices , Clovis, California
"Changing eating habits in the North is an important link in the chain of events needed to create environmentally sustainable development that meets people's needs. The Beyond Beef campaign is an important step in that direction."
-- DR. WALDEN BELLO, Executive Director, Food First/The
Institute for Food and Development Policy, San Francisco,
"Suppose food were distributed equally. If everyone in the world ate as Americans do, less than half the present world population could be fed on the record harvests of 1985 and 1986. Of course, everyone doesn't have to eat like Americans. About a third of the world grain harvest -- the staples of the human feeding base -- is fed to animals to produce eggs, milk, and meat for American- style diets. Wouldn't feeding that grain directly to people solve the problem? If everyone were willing to eat an essentially vegetarian diet, that additional grain would allow perhaps a billion more people to be fed with 1986 production."
The Population Explosion, 1990
"Family farmers are victims of public policy that gives preference to feeding animals over feeding people. This has encouraged the cheap grain policy of this nation and has made the Beef Cartel the biggest hog at the trough."
-- HOWARD LYMAN, Executive Director, Beyond Beef
campaign, former senior lobbyist for the National Farmers


"In my opinion, one of the greatest animal-welfare problems is the physical abuse of livestock during transportation.... Typical abuses I have witnessed with alarming frequency are: hitting, beating, use of badly maintained trucks, jabbing of short objects into animals, and deliberate cruelty."
-- TEMPLE GRANDIN, PH.D., internationally recognized livestock
handling consultant and hoard memher of the meat industry's
Livestock Conservation Institute
"For most humans, especially for those in modern urban and suburban communities, the most direct form of contact with non-human animals is at meal time: we eat them....The use and abuse of animals raised for food far exceeds, in sheer numbers of animals affected, any other kind of mistreatment."
-- PETER SINGER, author of Animal Liberation, and professor of
philosophy at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
"The amount of meat lost each year through careless handling and brutality would be enough to feed a million Americans for a year.
-- JOHN MCFARLANE, Executive Director, The Council for
Livestock Protection, a meat industry organization
"I know, in my soul, that to eat a creature who is raised to be eaten, and who never has a chance to be a real being, is unhealthy. It's're just eating misery. You're eating a bitter life."
--ALICE WALKER, author and poet
"in fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people."
-- RUTH HARRISON, author of Animal Machines
"Yet saddest of all fates, surely, is to have lost that sense of the holiness of life altogether; that we commit the blasphemy of bringing thousands of lives to a cruel and terrifying death or of making those lives a living death -- and feel nothing."
Salishury, England, commenting on the cruelty of modern animal
"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."



By Howard Lyman, Executive
Director Beyond Beef campaign, former
senior lobbyist for the National
Farmers Union; and Mark Ritchie,
Executive Director, Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy

To an intelligent being from anothter planet, U.S. food and agricultural policies and programs would appear deranged. Today, U.S. taxpayers are helping to support an agricultural system that feeds livestock before human beings, devastates peasant farmers, causes food shortages and hunger for millions of people in developing countries. and forces tens of thousands of small American farmers out of business. The current system also promotes the production and consumption of fatty and chemical-laden animal-derived foods that are killing us, and is ruining and poisoning the very soil and water we need to keep our agricultural system running.

Beyond Beef is promoting a fundamental restructuring of U.S. food and agriculture policy in order to reverse these destructive trends. We need to make a transition from feed to food production by rewarding the nation's small farmers with higher prices for growing food for people instead of feed for livestock. Those who wish to continue producing grain-fed beef should have to pay the true market value of the grain.

The world can no longer afford the social and environmental costs of producing grain-fed, or even grass-fed, beef at current levels. Reducing the production and consumption of beef by at least 50 percent will help free agricultural land to grow food for human consumption rather than feed for livestock. Fewer cattle will also lessen the environmental toll on the world's remaining forests and grasslands. Encouraging consumers who continue to consume some beef to demand beef from cattle that are humanely raised under sustainable standards will help encourage a new commercial market for organic beef -- a market niche that can be filled by the family farm.

Only the small family farmer can produce beef and other farm products humanely and sustainably. The Beyond Beef program is working to restore the position of the family farm in American life.

In the United States today, three voracious multi-national corporations hold a near total monopoly on beef production. Their priority is cheap livestock feed. U.S. government policies support these corporations by keeping market prices below the cost of production; American taxpayers are subsidizing the production of beef.

The small family farmer is in a box. He must produce more product at a return below the cost of production in an attempt to spread his fixed cost over more volume. This dilemma makes the family farmer easy prey for the huge agribusiness monopolies that dictate the rules of the game. Unable to get enough income, the family farmer is forced to abandon beef production altogether in favor of maximum yield production of monoculture feed grain. Even then, he's not receiving a high enough price for the feed to cover his costs. Moreover, attempts to increase yields requires the use of more and more chemical fertilizers that, in the end, are self-defeating because they increase costs and lower yields in the long run -- they are also polluting the environment.

Grain sold in the world market for a price that is below the cost of production is also devastating third world farmers. Unlike their American counterparts, however, they are not receiving taxpayer subsidies to supplement their income. They must either stop farming, try to get ajob in the city, or expand agricultural production into environmentally sensitive areas such as the rain forest.

Efforts by progressive farm organizations to establish fair prices for corn, wheat, and other crops have been consistently blocked by the giant agribusiness corporations that feed cattle in huge feedlots. The owners of these "beef factories" want to pay the lowest possible price for feed, and they don't care how many small and mediumsized family farmers go out of business or which rain forest gets destroyed. Their only concern is maximum shortterm profit.

If consumers unite with family farmers to break the monopoly power of agribusiness, it can lead the way to both financial security for family farmers and the elimination of ecologically unsound beef production.

Farmers and consumers also need to work together to defeat new government proposals which would open the U.S. market to greatly expanded amounts of imported beef. Most of this imported beef is produced on rain forest land in Latin America, making it extremely low priced. Not only would the expansion of beef imports accelerate rain forest destruction, it would drive down even further the price paid to family farmers, pushing many tens of thousands out of business and leaving the market solely in the hands of the huge conglomerates.

For the moment, corporate control over the livestock industry means that farmers and consumers will have to establish a number of alternative marketing routes in order to meet the demand for organically raised beef. We need to follow the lead of other countries, where consumer and farmer groups have agreed on specific standards for price, quality, and ecological considerations, and then established a special label for meats complying with these standards.

The Beyond Beef campaign will challenge the unwarranted power amassed by America's agribusiness corporations and the cattle and beef industry giants... and promote a new commercial market for organically raised beef helping to restore a viable market share for the nation's family farmers.


Barkin, David, et al. Food Crops vs Feed Crops - Global
Substitution ofGrains in Production. Boulder, CO: Lynne
Rienner Publishers, 1990.

Duming, Alan, and Holly Brough. Taking Stock: Animal
Farming and the Environment. Washington, D.C.:
Worldwatch Institute, 1991.

Ferguson, Denzel, and Nancy Ferguson. Sacred Cows at
the Public Trough. Bend, OR: Maverick Publications,

Hightower, Jim. Eat Your Heart Out. New York, NY:
Vintage Books, 1975.

Hur, Robin. Food Reform: Our Desperate Need. Austin,
TX: Heidelberg, 1975.

Jacobs, Lynn. Waste ofthe West: Public Lands Ranching.
P.O. Box 5784, Tuscon, AZ 85703: Lynn Jacobs, 1992.

Krebs, A.V. Heading Towards the Last Roundup: The Big

Three 's Prime Cut. Des Moines, IA: Prairie Fire Rural
Action, 1990.

Lappe, Frances Moore, and Joseph Collins. Food First:
Beyond The Myth of Scarcity. New York, NY: Ballantine
Books, 1978.

World Hunger: Twelve Myths. New York,
NY: Grove Press, 1986.

Lappe, Frances Moore. Diet For a Small Planet. New
York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1982.

Mason, Jim, and Peter Singer. Animal Factories. New
York, NY: Harmony Books, 1990.

McDougall, John, M.D. The McDougaII Plan. Piscataway,
NJ: New Century Publishers, 1983.

National Research Council. Alternative Agriculture.
Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989.

Omish, Dean, M.D. Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for
Reversing Heart Disease. New York, NY: Ballantine, 1990.

Pimentel, David. Food, Energy, aizd the Future of Society.
Boulder, CO: Associated University Press, 1980.

"Waste in Agriculture and Food Sectors:
Environmental and Social Costs." Draft Commissioned by
the Gross National Waste Product Forum, Arlington, VA,

Postel, Sandra. Water: Rethinking Management in an Age
of Scarcity. Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1984.

Ray, Victor K. The Corporate Invasion ofAmerican
Agriculture. Denver, CO: The National Farmers Union,

Revkin, Andrew. The Burning Season. Boston, MA:
Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

Robbins, John. Diet For a New America. Walpole, NH:
Stillpoint, 1987.

Schell, Orville. Modern Meat: Antibiotics, Hormones, and
the Pharmaceutical Farm. New York, NY: Random House;

Singer, Peter. Animal Liheration. New York, NY: Random
House, 1990.

Skaggs, Jimmy M. Prime Cut. College Station, TX: Texas
A & M University Press, 1986.

Strange, Marty. Family Farming: A New Economic Vision.
San Francisco, CA: Institute For Food and Development
Policy, 1988.


Partial List of Supporting Organizations
in the International Beyond Beef Campaign
1130 17th Street, NW #630
Washington, D.C. 20036
T.202-466-2823 F.202-429-9602

301 Broadway, Suite A
San Francisco, CA 94133
T.415-398-4404 F.415-398-2732

701 E Street, SE #200
Washington, D.C. 20003
T.202-543-5450 F.202-543-4791

300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133
T4l5-788-3666 F.415-788-7324

850 Sligo Avenue, Suite Lo2
Silver Spring, MD 20901
T.301-585-2591 F.301-585-2595

145 9th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
T.415-864-8555 F.415-864-3909

1313 5th St. SE, #303
Minneapolis, MN 55104
T.612-379-5980 F.612-379-5982

P.O. Box 6322
Washington, D.C. 20015
T.202-686-2210 F.202-686-2216

462 Walnut Street
Allentown, PA 18102
T.215-770-1670 F.215-770-0607

P.O. Box 712
Placitas, NM 87043

P.O. Box 10065
Portland, OR 97210

466 Green Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
T.415-434-1403 F.415-986-6779

2100 L Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
T.202-452-1100 F.202-778-6132

706 Frederick Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
T.408-423-4069 F.408-458-0255

1925 Century Park East
Suite 2300
Los Angeles, CA 90067
T.213-277-1665 F.310-556-0939

P.O. Box 5784
Tuscon, AZ 85703

1847 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94703
T.510-848-1155 F.510-848-1008

P.O. Box 150
Watkins Glen, NY 14891-0150
T.607-583-2225 F.607-583-2041

Lamarmora 38
Florence 50121
T.011-39-55-215 176 F.011-39-55-588858

#156 3-23-15 Matsubara
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
T.011-8133-325-5772 F.011-8133-325-5890

Caixa Postal 189
93.001 Sao Leopoldo, RS
T.011-55-51-5927933 F.0l1-55-51-5926617

JL Penjernihan 1/15
Jakarta 10210
T.011-62-21-586820 F.011-62-21-583975

Postbus 51236
1005 Amsterdam
The Netherlands

c/o The National Food Alliance
102 Gloucester Place
London, W1H 3DA
T.O11-4471-935-2099 F.011-4471-935-0419

Harbor View
Bantry, County Cork
T.011-353-27-50968 F.011-353-27-50545

Breite Street 51
5300 Bonn 1
T.011-49228-726-3393 F.011-49228-726-3399

Marbjergvei 35
Postboks 258
DK-4000 Roskilde
T.011-45-46757711 F.011-45-46756102

Heinzpeter Studer
Engelgasse 12a
CH-9001 St. Gallen
T.011-41-71-22-1818 F.011-41-71-23-1331

P.O. Box 1309
Dar Es Salaam
East Africa
T.011-72896-284246 F.011-72896-41780

43 Salween Road
10050 Penang, Malaysia
T.011-604-376930 F.011-604-375705

105 Ragpur Road
Dehra Dun 248001
T.011-35-23374 F.011-35-28392

20 Lavant Street
Petersfield, Hampshire
T.011-44-730-64208 F.011-44-730-60791

P.O. Box 368
Lismore, N5W2480


1. Cattle and the Global
Environmental Crisis

BY JEREMY RIFKIN, President, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation, Washington, D.C.
(1231 words)

2. The Beef Diet --
Prescription for Disaster

BY NEAL D. BARNARD, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine, Washington, D.C.
(692 words)

3.Farm Animals:
Commodities or Creatures?

By JOHN A. Horr, Chairman, EarthKind, Washington, D.C.
(753 words)

4. Cows Eat Better Than
People Do

Br DR. WALDEN BELLO, Executive Director, Food First/The Institute for
Food and Development Policy, San Francisco, CA
(784 words)

1. Cattle and the Global
Environmental Crisis

By JEREMY RIFKIN, President, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation, Washington, D.C.
In all of the ongoing public debates around the global environmental crisis, a curious silence surrounds the issue of cattle, one of the most destructive environmental threats of the modern era. Cattle grazing is a primary cause of the spreading desertification process that is now enveloping whole continents. Cattle ranching. is responsible for the destruction of much of the earth's remaining tropical rain forests. Cattle raising is indirectly responsible for the rapid depletion of fresh water on the planet, with some reservoirs and aquifers now at their lowest levels since the end of the last Ice Age. Cattle are a chief source of organic pollution; cow dung is poisoning the freshwater lakes, rivers, and the streams of the world. Growing herds of cattle are exerting unprecedented pressure on the carrying capacity of natural ecosystems, edging entire species of wildlife to the brink of extinction. Cattle are a growing source of global warming, and their increasing numbers now threaten the very chemical dynamics of the biosphere. Most Americans and Europeans are simply unaware of the devastation wrought by the world's cattle. Now numbering over a billion, these ancient ungulates roam the countryside, trampling the soil, stripping the vegetation bare, laying waste to large tracts of the earth's biomass.

Hoofed locusts of the rain forest

Since 1960 more than 25 percent of Central America's forests have been cleared to create pastureland for grazing cattle. By the late 1970's, two thirds of all the agricultural land in Central America was occupied by cattle and other livestock, most of it destined for North American dinner tables. American consumers save, on the average, a nickel on every hamburger imported from Central America, but the cost to the environment is overwhelming and irreversible. Each imported hamburger requires the clearing of six square yards ofjungle for pasture.

The creation of a vast cattle complex in Central America has enriched the lives of a few wealthy landowners and their political allies, pauperized much of the rural peasantry, and spawned widespread social unrest and political upheaval. More than half the rural families in Central America -- 35 million people -- are now landless or own too little to support themselves, while the landed aristocracy and transnational corporations continue to gobble up every available acre, using much of it for pastureland.

This destructive pattern of forest clearing, land concentration, and displacement of peasant populations is being repeated throughout Latin America. In Mexico, 37 million acres of forests have been destroyed since 1987 to provide additional grazing land for cattle. Mexican ecologist Gabriel Quadri summed up the feelings of many of his countrymen when he warned, "We are exporting the future of Mexico for the benefit of a few powerful cattle farmers."

The wasting of the land

The destructive impact of cattle extends well beyond the rain forests to include vast stretches of the earth's land. Cattle are now a major cause of desertification around the planet.

Today about 1.3 billion cattle are trampling and stripping much of the vegetative cover from the earth's remaining grasslands. Each animal eats its way through 900 pounds of vegetation a month. Without flora to anchor the soil, absorb the water, and recycle the nutrients, the land has become increasingly vulnerable to wind and water erosion. And the cattle destroy the land in still another way: their powerful hoofs compact the soil with the pressure of 24 pounds per square inch. The soil compaction reduces the air space between particles, reducing the amount of water that can be absorbed. The soil is less able to hold water from the spring melting of snow and is more prone to erosion from flash floods. More than 60 percent of the world's rangeland has been damaged by over-grazing during the past half century.

The United Nations estimates that 29 percent of the earth's landmass now suffers "slight, moderate, or severe desertification." Some 850 million people live on land threatened by desertification. More than 230 million people live on land so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence and face the prospect of increasing malnutrition and starvation.

In the United States, cattle are destroying much of the West. Between two and three million cattle are currently grazing on hundreds of millions of acres of public land in 11 western states. While western beef cattle make up only a small percentage of the beef production in the United States, they cause significant environmental destruction. According to a 1991 report prepared by the United Nations, more than 450 million acres on the western range are suffering a 25 to 50 percent reduction in yield, in part because of the overgrazing of cattle.

Philip Fradkin, writing in Audubon magazine, summed up the dimensions of this crisis -- a crisis that has, until now, remained among the country's best kept environmental secrets: "The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways and sub-division developments combined."

Warming the planet with beef

The grain-fed-cattle complex is now a significant factor in the emission of three of the gases that cause the greenhouse effect -- methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide -- and is likely to play an even larger role in global warming in the coming decades.

The burning of fossil fuel accounted for nearly two-thirds of the 8.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere in 1987. The other third came from the increased burning of the forests and grasslands. Plants take in and store carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis. When they die or are burned, they release the stored-up carbon -- often accumulated over hundreds of years -- back into the atmosphere. When the trees are cleared and burned to make room for the cattle pastures, they emit a massive volume of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Still, the burning of forests for pastureland is only part of the story. Commercial cattle ranching contributes to global warming in other ways. Our highly mechanized agricultural sector also uses a sizeable amount of fossil fuel. With 70 percent of all U.S. grain production now devoted to livestock feed, much of it for cattle, the energy burned by farm machinery and transport vehicles just to produce and ship the feed represents a significant addition to carbon dioxide emissions.

It now takes the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline to produce a pound of grain-fed beef in the United States. To sustain the yearly beef requirements of an average family of four requires the use of more than 260 gallons of fossil fuel.

Moreover, to produce feed crops for grain-fed cattle requires the use of petrochemical fertilizers, which emit nitrous oxide, another of the greenhouse gases. Nitrous oxide released from fertilizers and other sources now accounts for 6 percent of the global warming effect.

Finally, cattle themselves emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Although methane is also emitted from peat bogs, rice paddies, and landfills, the growing cattle population accounts for much of the increase in methane emissions over the past several decades. Methane emissions are responsible for 18 percent of the gases causing the global warming trend.

The ever-increasing cattle population is wreaking havoc on the earth's ecosystems. Reducing our consumption of beef and redirecting animal husbandry practices toward humane, sustainable production of cattle will go a long way towards restoring the planet to health and establishing a new covenant of stewardship with the earth.

2. The Beef Diet -
Prescription for Disaster

BY NEAL BARNARD, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Imagine if two jumbo jets collided over a major citv and, in the resulting fireball, 4,000 people died -- it would be a national tragedy -- one of the worst accidents ever. People would demand that airlines and the government made sure nothing like that could ever happen again.

A tragedy of this proportion happened the day before yesterday. It happened yesterday, too. It will happen again today and tomorrow. Every single day in the United States, 4,000 lives are taken by heart attacks and almost nothing is being done about it.

For years now, we have known of the role diet plays in health, yet unhealthy diets are still promoted by the government, livestock industries, advertisers, and even doctors. Healthy diets must be presented and encouraged by these groups if America's health care crisis is going to be solved.

Dietary changes are worth making. Two of the three leading killers of Americans are heart disease and stroke. Both are linked to "hardening of the arteries" -- atherosclerosis -- which, in turn, is largely caused by high-fat, cholesterol-laden diets. As we all know, animal flesh, and beef in particular, is a major source of cholesterol and saturated fat.

The enormous toll of these diseases is taken one patient at a time, as doctors finally give up trying to resuscitate yet another heart that is damaged beyond hope. The toll is also felt in the national pocketbook. Coronary bypasses and expensive diagnostic tests are now the budget-breaking routine in every city in America. Many other diseases also have their roots in our daily meals. Breast cancer, which has reached epidemic proportions, killing one woman every twelve minutes, is clearly related to diet. The same connections have beendrawn between diet and cancers of the colon and prostate. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, some 80 percent of cancer deaths are attributable to smoking, diet, and other identifiable and controllable factors. Foods rich in fat and oils increase our cancer risk. About 40 percent of all the calories we eat comes from the fat in meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, fried foods and vegetable oils. These fats stimulate the over-production of hormones which encourage cancer and promote the development of carcinogens in the digestive tract.

Not only are beef and other meats high in cholesterol and saturated fats, but they are also low in some vital vitamins and minerals, and they contain zero fiber. Recently there has been enormous scientific attention given to the role beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals play in blocking cancer growth. Whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals. And plant foods have fiber -- a substance completely lacking in beef and other meats. We have long known that fiber helps eliminate many common gastrointestinal problems such as constipation; however, evidence shows that it also is protective against a wide variety of diseases ranging from colon cancer to diabetes, and from gallstones to appe"dicitis. It also binds with carcinogenic substances, bile, and excess hormones which would otherwise rest in the digestive tract, and moves them out of the body.

As one studies the diets of people around the world, one thing becomes clear: as people give up traditional diets that are low in fats, high in fiber, and predominantly plant-based in favor of beef and other meats, the incidence of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease rises. At the same time, life expectancy and quality of life decline. In recent years, Japan has been the target of American beef and tobacco promotional campaigns that seem to be some sort of Pearl Harbor revenge program. Members of the higher socioeconomic strata, who are adopting Westernized diets, have much higher rates of breast, colon, and prostate cancer and heart disease than their counterparts who eat less (or no) meat.

The Beyond Beef campaign is encouraging people to make this simple change -- to step away from beef. It is a move that is good for you, for others, for animals, and for the environment. So live a little; try some new cuisine; experiment with traditional and ethnic foods. It could well help you live a lot longer.

3. Farm Animals:
Commodities or Creatures?

BY JOHN A. HOYT. Chairman, EarthKind, Washington, D.C.
Growing up in rural Ohio does not necessarily qualify a person to regard himself a farm boy. But spending summers on my grandparents' 360-acre farm near Spencer, West Virginia, during my childhood and youth made me very aware that farm animals are creatures whose needs and wants, though different in degree and scope from humans, are as real as many of those I experience.

I could milk a cow, by hand of course, with the best. Riding horseback without a saddle was almost as natural as walking. And though some may not be familiar with the farm language of that day, I did my share of cradling hay, slopping pigs, and shucking corn. To spend several weeks on a farm in West Virginia in the 1930's and '40s was to know something of early America, though modern civilization was already redefining our lifestyles in many ways.

Like most Americans of that era, I grew up eating food produced primarily on the many small family farms scattered across this nation. Like most Americans, I ate meat, cheese, and eggs, and drank milk at almost every meal. Like most Americans today, I still do -- though less so, I suspect, than most. Something has changed about the ways in which we raise and market farm products today, especially those derived from animals. No longer is it possible to drive into the countryside in most communities and purchase eggs from a local farmer. No longer is it possible in most communities to get freshly dressed chickens - or any other kind of meat for that matter -- at a farmers' market.

The supermarkets have replaced the local groceries; the giant agribusiness corporations have replaced the small farmers; and farm animals have become commodities rather than creatures.

I certainly did not relish chopping off the head of a chicken, and I very much dreaded the day when my grandfather would butcher a pig or a calf; but death for those animals was quick and painless and until then they had lived in natural settings and comfortable quarters.

Today I eat far less meat and other animal products than in my growing-up years. Health factors, of course, are an important consideration in that decision. But more than anything else, it is my concern about the ways in which animals are raised, transported, marketed, and slaughtered that has caused me to reduce my consumption of animal products significantly over the past several years.

In many cases, farm animals are treated as if they were little more than assembly-line products, mass produced by a system designed for speed and efficiency with little regard for the needs and wants of the animals,

Calves are confined in crates for their entire short lives, unable to experience the comfort and nurturing of their mothers, or even express their most basic instincts, all for the purpose of producing so-called white veal. Cattle are herded onto trucks or railway cars, crowded in hot feed-lots where they're fattened for the kill, and, finally, transported yet again in less than humane conditions to slaughterhouses that are, in many cases, still Practicing methods that would utterly sicken and revolt most people who eat meat.

The Beyond Beef campaign, of which I am an enthusiastic supporter, brings together advocates of animal protection, human health, the environment, and the anti-hunger movement. Beyond Beef seeks to reduce the consumption of beef by 50 percent over the decade. And the replacement foods being advocated are not other meats, but nuts, fruits, vegetables and cereal grains. Clearly this kind of reduction and replacement, either in part or in whole, will reduce the numbers of animals subjected to stress and suffering by the millions.

If those who choose to continue eating meat are conscientious in seeking out those farmers and ranchers who practice humane sustainable agriculture, the end of treating animals as mere commodities will be in sight. This campaign will then contribute not only to the well-being of animals but to farmers and ranchers as well, especially those who still recognize that animals are sensitive, feeling creatures, and not simply cuts of meat.

People rarely intend to inflict cruelty and suffering on farm animals. Rather, the suffering is a by-product of systems that fail to see animals as creatures, systems that are wired to bypass feelings and needs. So long as we tolerate and encourage such systems by purchasing their products, we too are perpetrators of cruelty and abuse though we may appear to be only bystanders.

4.Cows Eat Better Than People Do

By DR. WALDEN BELLO, Executive Divector, Food First/The Institutefor Food and
Development Policy, San Francisco, CA
Every time you eat a hamburger you are having a relationship with thousands of people you never met. Not just people at the supermarket or fast food restaurant but possibly World Bank officials in Washington, D.C., and peasants from Central and South America. And many of these people are hungry.

The fact is that there is enough food in the world for everyone. But tragically, much of the world's food and land resources are tied up in producing beef and other livestock -- food for the well-off -- while millions of children and adults suffer from malnutrition and starvation.

The mathematics are simple. For every pound of feed-lot beef on our plates, an American cow eats nine pounds of grain and soy feed. In the 1980's, the world grain supply alone was enough to provide every human on the planet with 3,600 calories a day -- more than enough to meet everyone's average nutritional requirements. As Frances Moore Lappe, author of Dietfor a Small Planet, explains, "Our food system takes abundant grain, which hungry people can't afford, and shrinks it into meat, which better-off people will pay for." Cattle and other livestock eat 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States.

We may think that U.S. grain exports feed the hungry around the world. But in reality, three-fourths of the corn, barley, sorghum, and oats imported by poor countnes goes to feed animals.

How can it be true that people are hungry -- even starving -- while an abundance of food is produced? The problem is not scarcity of food, but that cows often eat better than people do. It all depends on how meat is produced. Livestock, such as chickens and pigs, raised on kitchen scraps and other waste, can supplement a poor family's diet by converting inedible materials into meat and eggs. Livestock raised by small farmers who rotate pasture with food crops can improve soil fertility while raising livestock for additional home consumption or market income. Paradoxically, however, grain-fed meat and meat raised through extensive farming on land that used to be accessible to peasants and small farmers to produce subsistence and market crops can create hunger while it creates food.

In Central America, staple crop production has been replaced by extensive cattle ranching, which now occupies two-thirds of the arable land. The World Bank encouraged the switch-over by dumping cattle credit into the region, with an eye toward expanding U.S. fast-food and frozen-dinner markets. The resulting expansion of cattle ranching has deprived peasants of access to the land they depend on for growing food. And because of ranching's limited ability to create jobs (cattle ranching creates thirteen times fewer jobs per acre than coffee production), rural hunger has soared. Concentrating on Central America's "comparative advantage" in cattle exports has not created the kind of economic growth that can end hunger. Poor people, deprived of land on which to grow food and without adequate income to buy imported food, are not the ones who benefit from beef exports.

In parts of Mexico and South America, beef production is linked to increasing poverty in a different way -- the switch-over from growing food crops to feed crops. In Brazil, half of the basic grains produced are sold as livestock feed, while the majority of the rural poor suffer from malnutrition. The shift from black beans, a basic food crop, to soy beans feeds the beef appetites of the Brazilian elites and foreign importers of Brazilian livestock feed, not Brazil's hungry masses. A study by David Barkin of the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City found that in Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela, production of meat for the rich has crowded out basic food production for the poor.

What does all this have to with our hamburgers? The American fast-food diet and the meat-eating habits of the wealthy around the world, support a world food system that diverts food resources from the hungry. But we do not have to unknowingly go along for the ride. Choosing to eat a diet lower on the food chain is a way of rejecting our position at the top of what environmental activist Jeremy Rifkin calls the "protein ladder." A diet higher in whole grains and legumes and lower in beef and other meat is not just healthier for ourselves, but also contributes to changing the world system that feeds some people and leaves others hungry.

That is why we at Food First are joining the Beyond Beef campaign to encourage Americans to eat less beef and other meat.

Stephanie Rosenfeld, a research associate with Food First, contributed to this article.
1130 17th St., NW
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20036

T: 202-775-1132
F: 202-775-0074