Just until a few decades ago the Chinese obtained over 90% of their calories from rice, wheat, beans, and tubers. However as China began to emerge from poverty and isolation in the 1980’s, the rising living standards, rapid urbanization and expansion of the middle class, have led to a significant and horrible change in the typical Chinese dinner plate.
Meat, eggs, and dairy products became a key source of food, with more than 20% of the total calories in the 2000’s.
In 1983 the meat consumption was 16 kilograms per person per year, 25 kilograms per person by 1995, 31 kilograms by 1999, 50 kilograms by 2000, and now it is more than 55 kilograms per person per year. That’s about 12% increase per year on a per capita basis, a threefold increase in less than 25 years.
Pigs’ flesh is the Chinese favorite, with more than 60% of the total meat consumption. Pigs’ flesh consumption has increased fivefold since 1980.
And not only has the number of victims dramatically increased but also their suffering. Labor scarcity, disease outbreaks and the rising living standards, have pushed China’s livestock sector away from family farming to intensive factory farms. China has become the largest pigs producer in the world with more than 700 million pigs slaughtered every year. One for every 2 Chinese.
Chicken production in China—virtually non-existent prior to 1978—is also becoming more industrialized. Chicken’s flesh is gaining in popularity, largely because it is cheaper than pig’s flesh. As part of adopting the destructive western habits, restaurants, fast food chains, and cafeterias play a key role in diversifying and fortifying meat consumption.
While the chicken industry in the United States began to multiply rapidly following World War II, in China it started to significantly expand about 20 years later and has grown twice as fast. 2012 marked the first time that more chickens were eaten in China than in the United States. Still, on average, Americans eat four times more chickens per person. So horrifically, the Chinese’s chicken consumption can and most probably will continue to intensify towards the US scope.
Chickens in the egg industry don’t fare any better.
While small farmers once produced most of the eggs for markets for local consumers, huge, intensive warehouse-like battery cage facilities have become the norm and are encouraged by Chinese egg industry leaders and the government who subsidies the industrial large-scale farms. In addition, china is where western large-scale egg producers are looking, where they can conduct business with little “interference” such as welfare regulations and environmental restrictions.
Already more than half of the world’s eggs are produced in china, and it is only getting worse.
The combination of technology adoption (modern processing technologies such as ultra-high temperature pasteurization), changes in retail supply chains, consumer trends, income growth and government policies, had driven China’s urban market for dairy products to this enormous expansion.
In late 2007 the Chinese government came out with a new set of nutritional guidelines that encourage citizens to consume 300 grams of dairy per day – nearly a five-fold increase over current consumption in the urban areas. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jinbao visited a dairy farm in the Sichuan Province and proclaimed that he has a dream to provide all Chinese, especially children, with half a kilogram of milk per day.
If Jinbao’s dream comes true it will boost the current consumption by seven and a half times.
The Chinese government also encourages local farmers to adopt “breed-improvement” programs to improve the genetics and productivity of dairy cows, since the demand for milk and milk products is so high that the dairy industry has been experiencing a shortage of raw milk.
The Department of Agriculture has also introduced a program of artificial insemination technology, to transplant “pedigree dairy cow” embryos in farms in Beijing, Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong. Embryo transplants increases the rate of success in breeding programs. All of this results in more cows producing much more milk.
As if the animal consumption boom that is going on for about 3 decades now is not horrible enough, and as if the future projection for the ongoing intensification of animal consumption is not horrifying enough, all of the mentioned exploitation figures are about to rise significantly. About 2 weeks ago the Chinese government announced that it is giving up its one-child policy, allowing all couples to have two children.
In this world, one political decision which was made regardless of the animals, would probably affect more animals than the efforts of thousands of activists.
As unbelievable as it may seem to the few people who are aware of the hell this planet is, it is about to get even worse.