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Meat tastes SO good: why would anyone want to be vegan?

29th April 2024 … talking about animals …

THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION [number 10 in the series]

Meat tastes SO good: why would anyone want to be vegan?

Suggested by Gerry Boland, founder of and spokesperson for Animals Behind Closed Doors, advocating for appropriate rights for animals and for a vegan lifestyle (087-6397557)


Meat is incredibly versatile and tastes great and is an important source of protein and iron. Predator animals eat other animals. Traditionally, the human has been a hunter-gatherer and it would be counter-intuitive and actually pretty dumb not to eat animals. Humans are top of the food chain and we got there because of our exceptional ingenuity and our ability to dominate and control animals.



The majority of the 90 billion farmed animals slaughtered each year are raised indoors and never see the light of day or feel the sun or rain on their backs. Their lives are short and miserable until the day they are trucked to the meat plants where they are slaughtered in shocking conditions. No animal wants to die, yet even the highest welfare farmed animals are slaughtered while still very young. We don’t need to eat animals; we have no right to raise and kill them as a food source.


The narrative peddled by the meat industry for decades – that plant-based foods are bland and boring and lack the nutritional benefits of a meat-based diet – has been shown to be empty rhetoric, designed to turn consumers away from giving up meat. In fact, the plant-based kitchen is full of variety, tastes great, and provides all the nutritional needs anyone needs.


Multiple case studies have shown that a diet high in red meat is a major cause of heart disease, certain forms of cancer and Type 2 Diabetes. (A landmark 2019 study by over 30 scientists and published in The Lancet, classified a healthy diet as one that ‘largely consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils, includes a low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry, and includes no or a low quantity of red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables.’)

Human health is also affected by animal agriculture and aquaculture through the widespread use of antibiotics, leading to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). A 2019 UN report states that ‘Drug-resistant diseases cause at least 700,000 deaths globally a year, including 230,000 deaths from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, a figure that could increase to 10 million deaths globally per year by 2050 if no action is taken.  This would be more than the number of people that currently die of cancer.’


Animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions, 37% of global methane emissions, and 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions. The livestock sector produces more greenhouse gases than the direct emissions from all forms of transport. Amazon forests are being cut down at the rate of 10 football fields every minute to create pasture for grazing cattle; 70% of the global crop production is fed directly to animals; 83% of agricultural land is used for animal agriculture, yet producing only 18% of food calories consumed. Typically, it takes 42kg of animal feed and 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef. Animal agriculture has contributed to the catastrophic collapse in biodiversity, with vast areas of wildlife habitats being destroyed on a daily basis.

In Ireland, dairy cow numbers have increased by 38% in the last decade and are set to expand to 1.65 million animals by 2027. Ireland’s farm animals produce 50 times more waste than the human population and this waste is spread untreated on the land, polluting streams, rivers and lakes.


According to the Centre for Disease Control in the US, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.* Because livestock in intensive farms is bred to be almost genetically identical, viruses can spread quickly with no resistance within the animal population.

Deforestation and human encroachment on diverse wildlife habitats is helping diseases to spread from animals to humans more frequently.

* HIV came from humans hunting chimps who carried a related virus. Ebola is a zoonotic disease. SARS-CoV-1, thought to have originated in wild bats and amplified in civet cats, emerged out of a live animal market in China in 2002. The H1N1 pandemic of 2009, which arose out of a giant pig farm in Veracruz, Mexico, blew around the world and cost 36,000 lives.


The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations asserts that livestock are a leading cause of climate change, responsible for 7,516 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, or 14.5% of annual global emissions [FAO - Steinfeld etal. Livestock’s Long Shadow].

Globally, humans use 59% of all the land capable of growing crops to grow food for livestock [FAO - Steinfeld et al. Livestock’s Long Shadow].

The four highest-impact actions an individual can take to tackle climate change are: eat a plant-based diet; avoid air travel; live car-free; have fewer children. Of these four actions, plant-based comes at a zero cost to the individual and is the only one that starts to address methane emissions immediately. Switching to a plant-based diet is the single most effective action a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

ANIMAL SENTIENCE – All farmed animals are sentient, that is, they experience a wide range of emotions and can feel pain, just like us. We know this, and yet we turn a blind eye. We can do


We must do better.

I am happy to discuss this issue on air, also more than willing to debate with an industry representative.

Gerry Boland

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