Human Waste

Considering how severe the effect of food production, any type of food, is in terms of suffering, food waste, must be given much more attention than this important issue currently receives. And a new study aiming to separate animal flesh waste from the rest of food waste, reveals that food waste is even more important than realized.

Few people know that about a third of the produced food around the world is going to waste. Some during the production phase, some during transport, some while being stored in retailers, and some in households. And until now almost no one knew how many animals are being tortured for their entire lives until they are murdered so they can be consumed by humans, without ever being consumed by a human, since somewhere along the way their flesh has been thrown away. A new study conducted at Leiden University in the Netherlands, that tried to figure out how many individual animals end up being thrown away after being exploited all their lives, concludes that the number is about 18 billion animals of the 75 billion pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, goats, and sheeps raised for food around the world. The study counted animals who were never consumed, for any reason and at any point in the supply chain, that is animals who died on the farm due to the horrendous living conditions, on the transportation truck on the way to be murdered, during one of the various processing stages after they have already been murdered, or in warehouses, grocery stores, restaurants and households.

The importance and pioneering of this study is the isolation of animal based food waste from the rest of the food waste, as well as figuring out which stages, which countries and which exploitation industries are responsible for most of the “waste” of animals.
Unsurprisingly, due to the fact that chickens in the flesh industry are of breeds humans have manipulated to grow incredibly large, incredibly fast, which not only means chronic pain, but often also leads to leg deformities and other health issues that cause death at a very early age (like heart attacks and starvation or dehydration due to the inability to walk and get food and water), the chickens flesh industry is responsible for the vast majority of animals being tortured and murdered for humans consumption without any human consuming them. It is estimated that about 16.8 billion chickens per year endure extreme suffering and then being thrown away as waste. The second most “wasted” animal is turkeys, then pigs, sheeps, goats, and cows.

Besides the obvious practical aspect there is also an important symbolic aspect to these dire figures and that is how cheap nonhuman animals’ lives are to humans if one in every four nonhuman animal individual is not even consumed by humans.
Humanity is so careless about nonhuman animals, that not only are efforts to reduce animal “waste” not conducted, so far there hasn’t even been an effort to figure out how many individual animals are being “wasted” every year.

Which brings us to another extremely depressing aspect of this study, which is its suggestions as to how to reduce animal “waste”. According to the study it is possible to spare billions of animals from enduring the most extreme suffering without even reducing the amount of animal flesh that humans consume. It is argued that these horrible figures could be reduced by 7.9 billion individual animals if the different world regions would achieve the best currently observed efficiencies across the global Food Supply Chain, and by 4.2 if the ‘United Nations: Sustainable Development Goal 12.3’ was implemented to a minimal extent, or 8.8 billion if implemented to a full extent.
Grocery stores, restaurants, and food manufacturers can do a lot to reduce food waste if they’ll pay more attention to the subject. Besides obvious measures such as hygiene and refrigeration, or donating more unsold food, standardizing expiration labels on foods bought at the grocery store for example can make a big difference in waste by consumers who some confuse the label “best if used by” with “expires on”.

In addition, humanity is supposed to have another incentive to reduce food waste in general, and animal based food “waste” in particular, and that is its significant impact on the planet they see as their own. All animal products use more land, water and emit more GHGs than almost all plant foods. Experts from institutions such as the UN and the University of Oxford have stated that Western countries need to dramatically reduce meat in their diets in order to combat these issues. A study published earlier this year found that plant-based diets resulted in 75% less emissions, water pollution, and land use. In other words, humans should care about food waste, and animal food waste in particular, considering that animal based food has a much stronger environmental impact than plant based food, not only because of the suffering they are causing to nonhuman animals but because by that they are also harming other humans, including their own future generations. But humans are so myopic and self-involved that even the future of the planet they view as their property, is not really in their interests.

And finally, as if the fact that about 18 billion animals are tortured and murdered every year for human consumption without even being consumed by any humans is not shocking and depressing enough, the study did not include the dairy industry, the egg industry with its inherent “waste” of billions of male chicks, or the number of fishes who are tortured and murdered without being consumed.
The researchers have also pointed out that they couldn’t find reliable data regarding the geese, ducks, pigeons and camels industries, so individuals from these industries are also not counted. Obviously, if they were, the figures would have been even more extremely depressing.
But even without counting everyone who needs to be counted, the fact that every year, the number of individual sentient beings that humanity produces, tortures and murders and are not even consumed by them is more than double the number of humans themselves, is sufficient to conclude that it is a case of obvious speciesism to not at least consider the option of getting rid of humans for good.

Leave a Reply