In Australia, from 1985 to 2008, beef production increased by around 65% and lamb production by 44%, with this increase also accounting for the large proportion of beef and lamb we export.
Chicken consumption has increased from 6kg per person in 1965 to an astonishing 42kg per person in 2015, which equates to over 500 million chickens slaughtered each year in Australia. That’s roughly 25 chickens per person per year!
The establishment of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in Australia, with its first store opening in 1968, had a major impact on the consumption of chicken. In the 12 months from 1970-1971 a total of 75 KFC stores opened and during the same period, total Australian chicken production increased by 38%.
The factory-like approach to farming animals has seen meat become more affordable and it is not unusual for people to eat meat two or three times a day.
Our increasing appetite for meat places enormous pressure on the environment and has been linked to health issues such as heart disease and some cancers.
This is not just an isolated issue to Australia, an increase in preference for animal products occur as people’s incomes increase.
As Julian Cribb stated in his book The Coming Famine:
“One of the first things people start to do when their incomes start to rise above poverty levels is to improve their diet, which usually means eating more meat, fish, oils, eggs and dairy products. After a time this hunger for protein eases off, but usually only after people start to eat far more than they need, and so become fat and sick. Illustrating this, meat consumption in the US (123kg per person) and Europe (74 kg per person) has risen slowly or not at all over the past generation, whereas in China it has tripled to 54kg per person and India has only just begun the ascent from a very low level indeed.” The Coming Famine, p. 163
To keep up with our current demand for meat and the expectation that it will be cheap and readily available, we now farm the majority of our animals here in Australia in factory farms. This often sees them suffer in unimaginable conditions (see Eating Animals), with over 500 million animals housed in factory farms each year in Australia alone – this includes chickens, pigs, ducks, rabbits, and turkeys. Would we be able to stomach such cruelty if it was on our doorstep? Would we stand by and let our beloved pets be housed in cages they couldn’t even turn around in?