Photo: Stock

Mass Produced Meat Beef Cows Butcher Vegetarian

Over 79 per cent of the British population eat meat. However, reports show that not only is meat production worse than car exhaust fumes for the environment, but it's not particularly healthy for you either.

With the world population now around 7 billion, mass production of food - particularly meat - has grown to astronomical proportions. Today many of us still don't know exactly where our food comes from and how it is processed.

Do you know where your food comes from?

In Denmark, children are taken to abattoirs from a young age - so they are educated in how their food gets from the field to their plate. (Interestingly, only 4 per cent of Denmark's population is vegetarian compared to 11 per cent in the UK.)

The following photos might seem horrific, but the point is to show how cheap meat is put on our plates - from the treatment of the animals to the way they are slaughtered.

These are photos from all over the world - from USA to Australia to the UK. Mass production of meat and animal products is an issue that affects us globally.

Pigs-mass-production-meat

Wondering what this pink slime is? This is what goes into chicken nuggets, hotdogs and pepperoni in America.

It is 'mechanically separated chicken' which is scrapings of the last bits of chicken meat (including eyes and intestines), which is then filtered through a high-pressure sieve and used in food. Yum.

Photo: Newsweek.com

Mass Produced Meat Vegetarian Chicken Processed Newsweek.com

In Brazil - and other countries around the world - cows are slaughtered en masse by stunning them before slitting their throats and letting the blood drain out before they are butchered.

There are now around 1.5 billion cows on the planet, bred to feed the world's growing population.

Photo: George Steinmetz/National Geographic

Mass Produced Meat National Geographic Cows GEORGE STEINMETZ

Agricultural emissions are thought to produce 30 per cent of the world's global emissions - that's more than all the cars, buses, trains and planes in the world put together.

Producing one kilo of beef requires 15,000 litres of water, 30kg of carbon dioxide and 5 square metres of space. That's a lot of resources going into making a couple of hamburgers.

Photo: meatonomics.com

Mass Produced Meat Cows Cattle Beef Farming meatonomics

Not only is mass-produced meat bad for the environment, there is the ethical issues as well. Foie gras is created by force-feeding ducks or geese for 12 to 21 days to fatten their livers.

One vet noted after a site inspection of a foie gras farm: "Many of the ducks…were lame or unable to walk without using their wings for support. Some ducks moved by pushing their bodies along the floor."

Photo: IPS News

Mass Produced Meat Duck Mulard Force Fed Foie Gras IPS NEWS

Battery hens live in dark cages with six to eight other hens, no more than a square foot to live in. There is no natural daylight. Their wings and legs are often broken by rough manhandling. The air stinks of urine and the floor is caked in faeces.

Photo: Animals Australia

Mass Production Meat Battery Hens Chicken Animals Australia

Dead chickens are left in the bottom of cages. Broiler chickens (bred specifically for meat) are twice the weight they should be - after being pumped with growth hormones and genetically engineered feed.

Photo: Animals Australia

Mass Production Meat Battery Hens Chicken Animals Australia

Cows and pigs aren't built to live indoors. They get sick, depressed and often eat their own young.

Pigs are the sixth most intelligent animals on the planet, yet many spend most of their lives in gestation crates, which are too small for them to turn around in.

Photo: Henner Rosenkranz/De Speigl

Females are artificially inseminated. Once she's given birth, she is separated from her young after ten days and impregnated again.

In very crowded conditions, piglets become stressed and resorting to eating one another and biting tails. Farmers will chop off piglets' tails and break off ends of their teeth with pliers to prevent this happening.

Photo: Wikipedia

Mass Produced Meat Pig Farming

So what should you do if you like eating meat and don't want to cut it out of your diet completely? We say eat less of it.

If everyone in the country ate meat less than three times a week, it would have a real impact on our planet.

When it comes to buying animal produce, always buy local and free-range - it's better to pay a little extra but know exactly where your food is coming from.

Thinking about going vegetarian? Read our first-person account on it here. Also watch Cowspiracy, it is a real eye-opener.