The saying “you are what you eat” has been around for I don’t even know how long. According to this, by eating animal products you are a cow, pig, chicken, fish, or any other animal you choose to eat. I’m going to go beyond the obvious and say that you are also fear, pain, and often times infection. I read somewhere that when you consume meat, you are consuming all of the fear and pain that the animal experienced at the time it was slaughtered. It seems ludicrous but let me explain...
Much like humans, the body experiences changes when in a stressful situation. In this case the situation is being slaughtered. The body goes into a fight or flight state and numerous chemicals are released. Two predominant ones are cortisol and adrenaline. The chemicals remain present in the animal’s tissue even after death. They are still present in the meat when you eat it. These chemicals lead to changes in our body. Although we receive benefits from these chemicals when present in appropriate levels, higher levels have consequences. Excess cortisol leads to high blood pressure, decreased bone density, blood sugar imbalances (often increased blood sugar), decreased amount of muscle tissue, decreased immune response, and increased abdominal fat. Having too much adrenaline circulating in our bodies can also increase blood pressure; decreased digestion also occurs.
As far as infection goes, many of the animals found on factory farms have infections due to the poor sanitary conditions they are forced to exist in. Because of this, you are consuming not only the organism causing the infection, but also the antibiotics the animal is given. In fact, many of the farm animals are routinely treated with antibiotics to decrease the risk of developing an infection (hello multidrug resistant organisms!).
While we are on the topic of ingesting whatever the animals have been given, let’s talk about hormones. Many of the factory farms give their animals growth hormone to make them grow bigger, faster than Mother Nature intended. When consuming animal products, we also consume the growth hormones which will in turn make you grow bigger than you would have otherwise. Once we stop growing up, we grow out if ya know what I mean. So now we have cortisol and growth hormone wanting to increase the fat we have (hello obesity epidemic!).
To sum it up, raising livestock is bad for the environment (as discused in Three Ways to go Green) and eating it is bad for your body.
Stay tuned to read about my experience with being vegan!