Authors: Shushana Castle,Amy-Lee Goodman
The Meaty Truth
Why Our Food Is Destroying Our
Health and Environment
—and Who Is Responsible
Shushana Castle and Amy-Lee Goodman
Foreword by Dr. Neal Barnard
Copyright © 2014 by Shushana Castle and Amy-Lee Goodman
Foreword © 2014 by Neal Barnard
Illustrations by Julia O’Flynn O’Brien
Illustrations © 2014 Shushana Castle
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Skyhorse Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018.
Skyhorse Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Skyhorse Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 or
Skyhorse® and Skyhorse Publishing® are registered trademarks of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.®, a Delaware corporation.
Visit our website at
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available on file.
Cover design by Owen Corrigan
Cover photo credit Thinkstock
Print ISBN: 978-1-62914-427-6
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-63220-044-0
Printed in the United States of America
First and foremost, this book would not have been possible without the passionate and fearless leaders in the health, environmental, and animal movements that opened our eyes and left us forever changed. We would not be who we are today without the pioneers who came before us—John Robbins, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Gene Bauer, Francis Moore Lappe, and so many others we wish to mention. We are forever indebted to your hard work and dedication to improving the lives of all the animals and the health of our planet.
To those who shared their stories with us, especially Karen Hudson, Helen Reddout, Howard Lyman, and Robyn O’Brien—thank you for letting us publicize the ever-evolving stories in your communities. Your hard work demanding justice and healthier food is an inspiration to us all.
We are grateful to the experts who were instrumental in
The Meaty Truth’s
publication. Our wonderful agent, Steve Harris, provided advice and guidance throughout the publishing process. Our illustrator, Julia O’Flynn O’Brien, made our cartoons come to life. Our editor, Emily Houlihan, publisher Bill Wolfsthal, and the entire Skyhorse team worked closely with us to share this untold story and expose the truth.
To our families and dear friends, your endless support, encouragement, and patience allowed us to pursue this dream and see it become a reality after many years of hard work. And finally to all the animals, domestic and wild, you fill our lives with so much joy and remind us each day why we wrote
The Meaty Truth
. Thank you.
To Mom, Dad, Greg, and Jay, whose love and encouragement taught me to always dream big.
And to Mom and Jack, your love and support is bigger than the universe. Thank you.
hen I was growing up in Fargo, North Dakota, our family ate roast beef, baked potatoes, and corn. Day after day, that was about it. Sometimes a pork chop or slice of liver might replace the beef. But we never strayed very far from this rather unimaginative, meat-centered menu. After all, we thought we needed meat for iron and protein—which translated into health and strength—and we were prepared to overlook the unsavory aspects of slaughter and meat packing. Never mind that heart attacks were common—and still are. We attributed them to old age, or perhaps genetics, rather than to our meaty diet.
Later on, when I entered medical school, I learned something quite different. It turned out that people who avoided meat were healthier than those who ate it. Carefully conducted research studies showed that they were slimmer; had much less risk of heart problems, cancer, and diabetes; and lived years longer.
In 1990, medical science turned another page. That was the year when Dr. Dean Ornish showed that a plant-based diet, along with other healthful lifestyle changes, could actually reverse heart disease, causing narrowed coronary arteries to reopen without surgery. Meat-based diets—even “lean” meats—had none of that power.
At the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, our research team put a plant-based diet to the test for diabetes, weight problems, and other health conditions. We found that when people threw out the animal products—meat, dairy products, and eggs—and powered their bodies with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans, their health rebounded. Cholesterol levels fell, unwanted pounds melted away, blood pressure came back down, and diabetes came under much better control, sometimes disappearing altogether.
And the benefits go beyond human health. Environmental scientists have weighed in, showing that a plant-based diet does a huge favor for the Earth. Needless to say, the animals benefit, too. At the moment, Americans eat one million animals every hour. The more we chip away at that figure, the better off everyone will be.
So all in all, breaking the meat habit is just about the healthiest, smartest, and kindest thing you can do. If you are uncertain where to begin, this book will help you change your menu for the better. It will motivate you to begin the transition and will guide you along the way. I would encourage you to read it carefully, then share it with your friends. It will change their lives.
Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Washington, D.C.
ood is part of the emotional fabric of American life. We celebrate at restaurants and socialize with friends over lunch. However, what we are eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner represents today’s global health and environmental crises.
The Meaty Truth
is here to serve us a side of the truth.
Our health has turned to sh!t as America is rapidly becoming the home of the sick and obese! About half of the illnesses claiming American lives are all related to what we eat. The USDA knowingly allows toxins such as arsenic, bleach, pus, and feces into our meat and dairy products. The crap fed to children in schools is a national tragedy. We are reaching the end of the antibiotic era and the rise of pandemic diseases is around the corner. Filthy, disease-breeding factory farms that churn out twenty-seven billion animals per year rely on consumer ignorance to keep pumping out meat and dairy products that are poisoning us and our environment.
Our heavily meat and dairy diets are decimating our entire ecosystem. Half the Amazon is expected to be gone forever by 2030. Dead zones are expanding so rapidly that they are predicted to entirely wipe out fisheries by 2048. Imagine oceans without fish. This is where we are heading. Our vital resources are running so low that experts predict the next world wars will be over access to water and food resources.
Fortunately, a healthy food movement is sweeping across America. The food system of our future is predominately whole grain, plant-powered food. While we were raised to believe that milk and meat are essential and vital components to a healthy diet, studies from around the world, including prestigious universities Harvard and Cornell, show that meat and dairy in no way constitute any part of a healthy diet. The truth is meat and dairy products are the primary cause for our alarming rise in chronic health problems and disease.
We understand that for some of you this seems crazy. Think about this: until 1863, slavery and the separation of people of different colors was an accepted practice in society. The ability to buy a human being based on race was not questioned and even supported by our government. In the early 1900s, women were to be seen and not heard. Doctors considered women too fragile to handle everyday pressures, and women were secondary members of society without a voice. In the 1940s and 50s, smoking cigarettes was recommended by doctors as an acceptable way to relax, open our lungs, and improve overall health. Smoking was sophisticated, even portrayed as sexy, and above all was just something everyone did, unquestionably. Over time, however, we challenged our assumptions and realized that these socially entrenched practices we believed to be okay were unhealthy and, in some cases, deplorable. We think drinking pus, eating animal sh!t, and fighting over clean water is simply unacceptable. This is happening in America every day. The time for change is now.
Right now we are heading down a path of destruction and disease. But, dear reader, you are taking the first step toward a happier, healthier, and more vibrant life by reading this book. We will set the record straight
and let the truth be told. By the end of this book you will understand that
what is at the end of your fork is more powerful than anything in a pill bottle and more effective at preserving the environment than an energy-saving lightbulb or Prius
ld MacDonald’s farm, featuring happy cows and chickens on green pastures, is a fantasy of the past. In the 1960s, our meat and dairy production completely and quietly changed without the public’s knowledge.
Familiar names such as Murphy Brown, Hebrew National, Knott’s Berry Farm, Healthy Choice, and Good Nature Pork that line our grocery store shelves are all controlled by a small number of meat and dairy tycoons, such as Smithfield, Tyson, or Cargill.
This monopoly-like style control of the market by large corporations have pushed small family farms out of business. However, today’s intensive and mass assembly-line production of meat and dairy products that focuses on quantity over quality is actually contributing to the debilitating rise in chronic diseases that are killing us and completely decimating our environment.
The Good Old Days Illusion
The twenty-seven billion animals in the United States that wind up on our plates are crowded into about twenty thousand warehouses or factory farms that dot the American landscape (Governmental organizations commonly refer to factory farms as CAFOS, or concentrated animal feeding operations.). Ninety percent of the meat and dairy in our country comes from factory farms.
Just a handful of CAFOs are responsible for almost all of the meat we eat—95 percent of our chickens, turkeys, and pork and 75 percent of our beef products.
That’s a lot of responsibility and trust placed into the hands of a few giant corporations. While these tycoons masquerade as family-friendly farmers, the reality is so far from the truth. Their concern for profits comes at a severe cost to humanity and America’s health.
Most Americans have absolutely no clue where our food comes from and how it is produced. Factory farms thwart every attempt by the public to learn the facts about what exactly takes place behind the doors of their animal warehouses. Today, ignorance is so passé. It’s high time we know the stinking facts about our food.
Let’s trace how our food is treated before it is served on our plates. Today, value is placed on raising as many animals as possible in the smallest amount of space and within the shortest time span so they can be slaughtered at a laser-fast pace. The animals we eat are forced to live in crowded warehouses. Billions of animals exist in stalls too small for them to turn around or move and are forced to breathe in the stench of their own feces and urine morning, noon, and night. Twenty-four hour ventilation fans circulate the stench of all the other animals’ crap. The ammonia levels are so strong that the chemical is traceable in the animal tissue that we eat. Contrary to what we see plastered on advertising posters of happy cows, these animals live out their short lives on cement floors without ever seeing the sun or grassy pastures. These inexplicably horrific conditions cause the animals’ health to suffer, as well as ours when we eat those animals. Remember, we are what we eat.
In reality, factory farms are akin to poorly run hospitals. Imagine a hospital that is packed with patients who are lined up tightly side by side. The patients stand or lie in their own waste and urine. There is no staff to clean up. The patients are fed an unnatural diet that keeps them fat and sick. Everyone in the hospital is given antibiotics, whether they need them or not. Bacteria-resistant disease, many of which are antibiotic-resistant, then spreads easily from one patient to the next. The stench is unbearable, but there is no room to turn around or move. Every patient is stuck in filthy rooms with no escape. Doesn’t look like a hospital we’d want to check into, does it?