Every sip of coffee we drink, every biscuit we dip, and every bite of sandwich we take defines the type of world we want to live in. Like it or not, our food habits have a ripple effect that affects the world around us and those who live on it far more than we can even begin to imagine.

1. Eating Factory Farmed Meat

How it contributes violence towards animals: Factory farming crams thousands of animals into tiny cages, sheds, or filthy feedlots depriving them of all their natural instincts. It’s about maximum output with minimum costs, and all at the animals’ expense.

How it contributes violence towards people: Apart from the psychological distress that the people working in these operations have to endure, animals are fed and sprayed with huge amounts of pesticides and antibiotics which can remain in their bodies and be passed on to those who eat them creating serious health hazards.

How it contributes violence towards the environment: Water, land, air, fossil fuels, you name it…factory farming is destroying our beautiful planet, read the facts for yourself here.

2. Consuming Products With Palm Oil

How it contributes violence towards animals: As global demand for palm oil increases, many endangered species are being destroyed. Clearing of natural habitats increases the likelihood of orangutan poaching and thousands of animals have been burnt alive during the process.

How it contributes violence towards people: Palm oil companies use violent and misleading tactics to take land from indigenous people and local communities without consultation or any form of compensation.

How it contributes violence towards the environment: Reported as being the ‘fastest forest destroyer,’ palm oil is responsible for no end of environmental devastation, from deforestation and loss of biodiversity to omitting huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

3. Buying Into the Free Range/Cage Free Lie

How it contributes violence towards animals: Despite the idyllic image of hens ranging free on lush green pastures, many free range hens never see the light of day and, although appearing to live slightly better lives, the treatment is in no way humane. Free range and cage free hens are still debeaked, kept in artificial conditions, force molted, and male chicks are killed at a day old by gassing, grinding them up alive, or suffocating them in trash bags.

How it contributes violence towards people: Among other things, eggs are extremely high in cholesterol and causes massive plaque build up in the arteries which is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, and studies have shown that they can be especially detrimental for those suffering with diabetes.

How it contributes violence towards the environment: Free range or not, egg farms still produce massive amounts of waste and greenhouse gas emissions that fuel the world’s global warming problem.

4. Opting for Pre-Packaged Processed Food

How it contributes violence towards animals: The largest source of marine debris in the world are plastics and Styrofoam packaging from food and drinks which end up being washed into the ocean through drainage systems and dumping. Hundreds of thousands of fish and birds die every year due to this pollution.

How it contributes violence towards people: About 80 percent of processed packaged foods in the U.S. contain ingredients which are banned in other countries as they are known to cause health problems including autoimmune diseases, allergies, and even cancer. This speaks for itself in terms of the effect of these ‘foods’ on human health.

How it contributes violence towards the environment: Non-recyclable packaging products account for a staggering 31 percent of all waste created, and these products do not biodegrade, leading to an ever increasing pollution problem.

5. Supporting Companies That Use GMOs

How it contributes violence towards animals: The bee population has suffered greatly as GMO crop numbers have increased and the bee population decline is extremely damaging to the entire ecosystem. The pesticides used in GMO farming also directly kill millions of small mammals and insects each year.

How it contributes violence towards people: Farm workers and those living in close proximity to GMO farms have suffered very serious health issues resulting from the large quantities of toxic compounds. These include allergies and sickness from airborne pollen, water contamination, and direct contact with the chemicals. Many farmers have also lost their livelihoods as their crops have suffered the effects of being in close quarters to these huge GMO mono-crop farms.

How it contributes violence towards the environment: GMOs pose a real threat to biodiversity of plant species as cross pollination has been known to eradicate many wild species in the surrounding areas of large plantations.

The Bottom Line

As consumers, we have a responsibility to be aware of our food habits and how they contribute to violence towards animals, people, and the planet. Making conscious choices is the only way to create a better, kinder, and more sustainable world for all, so before opening your wallet, take a moment to think about what injustices may have occurred to make this food available to you and what compassionate alternatives you could choose instead.

Image Source: Kuba Bozanowski/Flickr