Yury Koretskikh: ‘It is hard not to notice progress in public opinion about meat consumption problem’

Great Lent began in Russia, and many Orthodox Christians refused meat. Animal rights activists Yury Koretskikh is urging to make this refusal permanent talking about the ethical side of the issue and a healthy lifestyle. In an interview with Realnoe Vremya, the expert said about the environmental impact of the meat industry, the harm of chicken broth and hypocrisy of some animal advocates.

How meat industry pollutes planet

Yury, many are talking about the pollution of the environment by heavy industrial factories today, but almost nobody is speaking about the harm of livestock and poultry farms.

Indeed, animal husbandry is one of the major pollutants and destroyers of our planet, and most environmental organisations stubbornly pass this theme by.

We saw a big buzz around wildfires breaking out in different parts of the globe last year. However, the damage of these natural catastrophes isn’t comparable with the impact of animal husbandry. Over 50% of tropical forests have been destroyed for the needs of livestock and poultry farms in the last 70 years. Do you learn this information from big environmental organisations? I don’t think so. You will unlikely be offered to plant a tree or spend huge resources to protect from wildfires.

Or there is another hyped theme — global warming. Animal husbandry generates almost 20% of the total amount of greenhouse gases on the planet (more than all transport vehicles altogether) but you will rather be offered to ride a bicycle or use public transport than stop using food of animal origin. And the effect of the latter is much bigger.

Photo: Dmitry Reznov
Over 50% of tropical forests have been destroyed for the needs of livestock and poultry farms in the last 70 years. Do you learn this information from big environmental organisations? I don’t think so. You will unlikely be offered to plant a tree

And you will be persistently asked to save water, but they will at the same time omit that 15,000 litres of water are consumed to produce a kilogramme of meat. If you just stop eating animal food, you can stay in the shower for days, while your water footprint will be smaller than before.

I will name another shocking number. Residues from poultry and livestock farms in Russia only total over 400,000 tonnes a day, or 150 million a year, in general. We should start thinking about it, imagine it, what rivers of faeces flow from the farms and where they go then.

Production of animal products in general isn’t economical for the planet. It is calculated that all animals bred to make meat consume more protein than they produce. This ratio among pigs is 1/9, that of chicken — 1/5. But have you ever heard ecologists recommending stop eating animal food? At best you will be offered to buy produce from eco-friendly farms.

You may anyway be told that livestock farms pollute the environment with their residues (because it is a real problem). But you will unlikely be offered appropriate ways out of this situation.

“It is hard not to notice significant progress in public opinion about meat consumption”

Claims about the harm of meat have recently been heard more often. The WHO ranked meat products carcinogenic in 2015. Google has recently urged workers to switch to a healthy vegetarian diet. How can you comment on this?

It is hard not to notice significant progress in public opinion about the meat consumption problem in the least years. Quite revolutionary changes are taking place in many countries.

For instance, the government of Spain is investing in cultured meat for the first time. Foods for Tomorrow vegan brand from Barcelona received over €250,000 from NEOTEC programme, which is backed by the government, to promote a vegan line Huera that nowadays includes chicken, hamburgers, meatballs and pizza.

Photo: rt.rbc.ru
It is quite possible that you will anyway be told that livestock farms pollute the environment with their residues (because it is a real problem). But you will unlikely be offered appropriate ways out of this situation

China signed an agreement with Israel that will allow the latter to bring its technologies to the market of the densely populated country to make cultured meat. The Celestial Kingdom suffers from air pollution and wants to improve the environmental situation in the country with the help of cultured meat too.

Even Bill Gates praised Beyond Meat cutlets made of pea protein that are similar to animal meat in terms of taste and consistency. He, by the way, one of the first companies. Actor Leonardo Di Caprio also believed in it. Before IPO in May, Beyond Meat evaluated itself at $1,2 billion. During four days of auctions, the Californian company rose to $4 billion, while the value of its shares surged by more than 600%. Nowadays Beyond Meat’s produce is well represented in Russia as well.

Could you tell us what associations, world organisations, transnational corporations say that vegetarianism does not harm human health?

There are already a lot of such organisations. It is the American association of nutritionists, Great Britain’s National Health Service, British Nutrition Foundation, the Dietitians Association of Australia, the Ministry of Health of Israel and others.

Scientists from the University of Oxford reported on the harm of chicken meat. In their opinion, the product can cause cancer, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma as well as malignant melanoma. Our people like to talk about the benefit of chicken for athletes, we can also remember the curative “chicken broth” for patients. What will you say about it?

New research on harm or safety of consumption of different animal products regularly appears in the community of scientists around the world. Results of some research often contradict other research. This is why, to have a final opinion about a product, it is necessary to go into human physiology, microbiology, nutrition and other related disciplines. It seems to me that as a result of evolution humans adapted to painless digestion of any organic substance that gets to their mouth. This is why it is possible to stay healthy with any type of nutrition if somebody tries to balance it and avoid abusive consumption. Though, undoubtedly, the development of science opens our eyes to many types of animal products that used to be considered beneficial.

Photo: Mariuszjbie / wikipedia.org
The idea of cooking a piece of corpse to eat it further doesn’t look very reasonable. As soon as people start thinking about what they eat, a lot of not very pleasant discoveries await them

“Modern types of agricultural animals are real mutants”

How are chicken bred in poultry farms? How much time does it take them to grow as big as to be killed? And how much time does a chicken take to mature in usual conditions?

Modern types of agricultural animals are real mutants created by genetic engineering to get the biggest profit by mercilessly using their bodies. To ensure that enterprise remains economically successful and stays in the market, they constantly have to reduce their costs by economising on animals.

The lifespan of hens and cocks in natural conditions reaches 10 years. While broiler chickens are killed on the 42nd-50th day of life as soon as they gain an economically reasonable weight. The average lifespan of hens on poultry farms doesn’t exceed four days, as later their fertility reduces, and their existence becomes economically unprofitable. All male chickens in egg farms are processed through a meat grinder and thrown into gas chambers.

Vegetarians consider a meat broth the most harmful food. Is it true? It turns out that one should cut back on meat soups first if one wants to be healthy?

I don’t know anything about health, but it is even physiologically disgusting for me to eat a broth out of an animal corpse. Any died creature starts rotting almost immediately. Moreover, before cooking, an animal’s body can lay for days and even a month. This is why the idea of cooking a piece of corpse to eat it further doesn’t look very reasonable. As soon as people start thinking about what they eat, a lot of not very pleasant discoveries await them.

Why did we get used to protecting only cats, dogs, zoos at best? It seems that animal rights activists lack open-mindedness or desire to notice millions of murders of pets in slaughterhouses that take place every year.

All modern people are born and live under the influence of social dogmas and behavioural patterns that are imposed from childhood. As a result of this kind of formation of personality, many people simply don’t look at cattle from an emotional perspective. Their victims are so huge and elevated by numerous official murder industries so high that they are considered as dry gastronomic terms, not independent living creatures. 99% of people are under such an influence, including animal rights activists. Another thing is that inculcating love and respect for more understandable species, people inevitably expand the degree of their understanding of other animals too. The number of vegetarians in animal advocacy is much higher than in the usual society. As soon as people start protecting some animals’ rights, they have to ask themselves inconvenient questions about what lies on their plate. The simple inner question: “Why do I love some animals but don’t eat others?” becomes so inconvenient that sooner or later it leads any animal rights activist to veganism. Everything just depends on how long one can accept one’s hypocrisy.

Photo: invest.tatarstan.ru
No living creature on the Earth has even reproduced the hell people created in slaughterhouses. If we want to become at least decent citizens of this planet, we at least should stop killing billions of our neighbours

“To start positive changes in society, it is necessary, first of all, to get rid of ignorance

I would like to pay attention to the conditions in which animals are kept in slaughterhouses. Can you tell us about the maintenance of cows? Should people treat animals so aggressively?

No living creature on the Earth has even reproduced the hell people created in slaughterhouses. If we want to become at least decent citizens of this planet, we at least should stop killing billions of our neighbours. Any slaughterhouse is, in itself, such a disgusting establishment that no animal maintenance conditions can make it decent. This industry must be completely put paid without compromise like it was done with slavery by humankind.

What films should one watch to see the truth about husbandry?

One film Dominion is enough.

I have heard that many stop eating meat even after watching a documentary Earthlings. Does it turn out that people simply lack facts and the truth to make the right choice? Why doesn’t our state join this noble educational mission?

Authorities are always just a reflection of their people. To start positive changes in society, it is necessary, first of all, to get rid of ignorance. The development of science, easy access to information and moral development of society will inevitably bring to a collapse of husbandry as an absolutely cruel, harmful and immoral industry. And this can happen in the current centenary already.

By Matvey Antropov