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Opinion Paper

Opinion Paper

The concept of “food” went far beyond its usual definition. It is not only a necessity of animals and human beings but something more. Food becomes a personal feature as it indicates one’s preferences. Food can represent someone’s personality as well as clothes, hairstyle, or make-up. People depend on food as it is a basic physiological need, but there is a strong emotional addiction to food when people are bored, stressed, or even relaxed. Food consuming is also a kind of social interaction since often people meet to have a cup of coffee and discuss some issues.

At the same time, people are indifferent to what they eat, products they give to their children, and the quality of food. Recently, the awareness of people started to grow so that the responsible consumption of food, especially meat, became something one should consider. High rate of meat consumption in some regions of the planet contrasts with the regions where people have poor if any access to food at all. In my opinion, people need to be more responsible about what they do or eat; I support the idea that people do not know enough about animal agriculture to state their points of view clearly. Therefore, the need to discuss the amount and quality of meat we consume has raised and affected me personally after reading the articles about a steer and a vegan who visited a feed yard. In order to see a clear picture, one should consider and compare the two articles – “Power Steer” by Michael Pollan and “Cattle Feedlot: Behind the Scenes” by Ryan Andrews. The article “Power Steer” by Michael Pollan appeals to me more since it presents a detailed information about animal agriculture.

Both articles depict the same topic, but from different points of view. The article “Cattle Feedlot: Behind the Scenes” by Ryan Andrews tells a story about a vegan who has planned to visit a cattle farm. It seems like an exciting adventure. The feedlot accommodates 22,00 of cattle. What was very surprising to the author is that cattle is fed according to five different ratios, each of which consists of seven ingredients such as corn, soy, alphalpha, straw etc., but corn content is less than 50% (Andrews, 2010). It is crucial to keep the amount of corn at this level, because corn diet may cause health problems in cattle. Ryan Andrews provides details of organic food consumption by animals as it directly influences the quality of produced meat. I agree that grass diet is better, ecologically sustainable, and advantageous for the environment, but since meat consumption constantly increases, there is not enough land for pastures. For example, during the last three decades, animal agriculture increased by 22 percent (Stiftung, 2014). Much attention is also paid to cattle care and cleanliness. Vet examinations are conducted on a regular basis. The usage of tags helps to improve the treatment system and welfare issues. The author of the article drew conclusions about his impressions and feelings and expressed no regrets about being a vegan. I partially support his point of view since I am sure that people do not need that much animal protein they consume. They should be more responsible about the environment.

On the contrary, the author of “Power Steer” Michael Pollan is not a vegan and enjoys eating meat. He was involved in such an experiment not accidently but on purpose. Being interested in the process of meat production, he gives more detailed information about the life cycle of a cow talking about a steer he once bought for educational and financial reasons (Pollan, 2014). The description starts from the insemination process. The author mentions the main manufacturers of meat in the modern cattle industry, conditions in which the cattle is grown up, and the process of weaning from the mother. Much is said about cattle nutrition in this article as well as in the previous one. The author defines eating grass as an “animal happiness”, and I do agree with that since it is natural. There are many advantages for the environment of feeding cattle with grass: animals spread plant seeds and fertilize soil with manure. Corn plays an important role in cattle nutrition and is the main component of the ration as it is cheap and convenient to use since all parts of the plant can be used as fodder. However, the use of a corn-based ration may cause health problems, in particular injury of a liver. If the situation is not changed, the digestive system will not work properly, and the animal may die. The only chance to maintain an animal’s life is to treat sick cattle with antibiotics. Consequently, the use of antibiotics and drugs for treating animals decreases the quality of meat and poses a risk to human health for people, who consume infected meat. Therefore, what I want to say is that the amount of corn in the ration should be carefully measured. Moreover, hardly any ration is free of liquefied fat and protein supplement, which increases the content of hormones (Pollan, 2014). As a result, people affect the microbial system, hormones, and bacteria of animals they eat. Consuming contaminated meat, people destroy their natural barriers to different infections. I think it is not a very pleasant news; thus, measures should be taken in order to change something.

Michael Pollan provides a detailed information about the Poky Feeders, the place where cattle are slaughtered. All the machinery used and the processes are described from the point of view of a cattleman-journalist. The author of the article explains why it is important to keep cattle calm before being slaughtered. The reason for it is that the meat of a panicked or scared animal will have a high level of adrenaline in it; as a result, meat will become dark and not attractive to costumers. At the end of the article, Pollan summarizes how profitable the cattle industry is in general.

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