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Great American Meatout Lacked Coverage

Great American Meatout Lacked Coverage

The Great American Meatout is held every year on March 20 (the first day of Spring). People pledge to "kick the meat habit, and explore a healthier, less violent diet."

Consumption of meat and animal fat has been linked conclusively with an elevated incidence of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases which kill 1.5 million Americans each year. Heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the United States. The amount you reduce your risk of heart attack if you cut your consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs by 10 percent, 50 percent, or 100 percent respectively, is 9 percent, 45 percent, and 90 percent. Not only is meat unhealthy, but it is very inefficient nutritionally. Ninety percent of the protein, 99 percent of the carbohydrates, and 100 percent of the fiber present in grain is wasted by feeding it to livestock. It takes 16 pounds of grain and soybeans to produce one pound of beef. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by a mere 10 percent, 60 million people could be fed adequately on the grain that would be saved.

Raising animals for food also has a devastating impact on our environment. Animal agriculture is associated with 85 percent of topsoil loss in the United States, as well as rampant water pollution (there is no sewage treatment for the 1 billion tons of waste produced by animals each year), and is a driving force in the destruction of our rain forests. More water goes toward livestock production annually than for all other purposes combined. If the water used by the meat industry were not subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, common hamburger meat would cost $35 per pound. Additionally, modern practices of factory farming adopted since the 1960s ignore the sensibilities of animals. For example, veal calves are never allowed to take a single step, as they are shoved into tiny crates soon after birth and then force-fed an anemia-producing diet in order to obtain a tender, whitish-pink meat. Moreover, it would cost one penny to render an animal unconscious prior to slaughter, but this is not done, because the meat industry claims it is too expensive.

This year, MIT's Vegetarian Support Group sponsored several activities for the Great American Meatout. We had an all-day booth in Lobby 10, which several people remarked was the most impressive they'd ever seen, we held an Indian vegetarian dinner in Kresge Lobby at which over 400 people were served, and we co-sponsored a speaker, Alex Pacheco of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Despite several press releases to The Tech well in advance of the events, we received no press. I am aware that the staff of The Tech is small and probably very busy, as most of us are. However, in light of the relevance of these events to the MIT community, we feel that it was a huge oversight for us to not have received any publicity. We hope that The Great American Meatout at MIT will become an annual event, so there will be future chances for The Tech to cover our events adequately.

Laura Dilley '96