While this is not entirely a vegan issue, the human health costs of factory farming are relevant to the issue of food choices and human responsibility.
From Nicholas Kristoff’s recent article in the New York Times:
Every year in the United States, 325,000 people are hospitalized because of food-borne illnesses and 5,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s right: food kills one person every two hours. [...]
90 percent of the livestock antibiotics are administered in their food or water, typically to healthy animals to keep them from getting sick when they are confined in squalid and crowded conditions.
The single state of North Carolina uses more antibiotics for livestock than the entire United States uses for humans.
This cavalier use of low-level antibiotics creates a perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens. [...]
Other countries are moving to ban the feeding of antibiotics to livestock. But in the United States, the agribusiness lobby still has a hold on Congress.
The article is online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12kristof.html
Here’s a video from CBS on the same topic:
Choosing meats with the “organic” label can help, but it’s not enough. The label has loopholes that can still encourage the spread of disease and cause food poisoning in humans. Moreover, there are numerous environmental problems associated with factory farming and those won’t disappear if consumers simply opt for the “organic” label.
What’s required to change the food system to protect human health is a significant reduction in the consumption of animal products. If people simply eat less meat, then overcrowding and all the problems associated with it will be reduced.
For the benefit of your own health, the health of your loved ones and the whole of humanity, the environment, and animals, please eat fewer animal products! Please make the choice today to reduce your comsumption of animals and commit to to your decision. Opt for vegan options whenever they are available and ask for them whenever they are not available.