Last week I discussed how human domestication of cattle and evolution of cattle production over the past hundreds of years has allowed for cheap and accessible meat in the market today. As production strategies developed, supply of beef grew, and Americans consumed more. However, beginning in the 1980s, the demand for beef in the U.S. began to decline. More people began to follow healthier diets, such as vegetarianism. This may have been in result of the increase in wealth and education in the nation. In reflection of these new dieting trends, the meat-packing industry has begun to reform its practices to create more humane environments for the cattle they raise for slaughter.
Changes in Meat-packing industry
-non-slip flooring to prevent cattle slips and falls
-taking more time to walk smaller herds from each station to calm the cattle
-handling animals with more patience and care
-Dr. Temple Grandin’s design of a chute system that prevents cattle from seeing other cattle being slaughtered up ahead. Reduces stress and anxiety.
There are also rising activist groups such as PETA hoping to expose the way some industries still abuse the animals that we eat. Society is shifting towards healthier diets and humane treatment in food production. This is also evident through the increase in organic and vegan food chains and restaurants such as Native Foods, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Urth Cafe. Producing these organic or humanely treated meats may decrease efficiency and increase costs for the industries, but I believe this would provide the solution to our environmental and health problems surrounding meat production. As long as we treat and produce our meat with the care and respect they deserve, we can maintain healthy living for ourselves and our meat animals.