People go vegetarian for all sorts of reasons. Health concerns are often cited as the primary reason for the transition in diet. Just to be clear, meat in itself is actually very healthy. The main problem stems from the fact that most meat these days goes through a cycle where it is exposed to all sorts of nasty chemicals that are not meant to go into people’s mouths.
Another problem is that farmers tend to inject their livestock with growth hormones and antibiotics. Thousands of human deaths that occur every year can be attributed to bacteria that can be found in the meat. Farmers are known to inject their cattle, pigs and chickens with antibiotics, which can help them grow more quickly. The problem with this practice, however, is that constant injections can make the bacteria inside the animals more resistant to the antibiotics over time. When people ingest the meat, they become ill and cannot be treated with normal antibiotics because of the bacteria’s resistance.
The Food and Drug Administration are now stepping in to put a stop to this practice. They have implemented a new policy that would require farmers to acquire consent from a veterinarian to obtain the antibiotics.
Michael Taylor, the deputy commissioner of food for the FDA, believes that this new policy can save lives and prevent scores of people from falling ill each year. It is estimated that around two million people are admitted to the hospital annually for bacteria related illnesses, though it is unclear how many of these cases are related to the consumption of infected meat.
While this policy is definitely well intended, it may hurt small farming businesses. There are less than 10,000 veterinarians that specialize in the treatment of large animals in the U.S. This will make it extremely difficult for some farmers to receive the necessary antibiotics for their livestock that are legitimately sick.
While this policy may have negative implications for farmers, it places the safety and interest of the public first. In a society where just about every type of food is modified to some extent, this policy will keep some of those modifications out of the meat that people consume.