Meat: Not Suitable for Children

Meat: Not Suitable for ChildrenEveryone wants to do what’s best for their kids, but many well-meaning parents don’t know that meat contains dangerous toxins and that feeding meat to their children increases the odds that their kids will be obese and that they will develop life-threatening diseases.

Toxic Shock
The meat and fish that are on our supermarket shelves today are loaded with antibiotics, hormones, heavy metals, pesticides, and a host of other toxins—none of which are found in any plant-based foods. These contaminates are bad enough for adults, but they can be especially harmful to children whose bodies are small and still developing.

For example, the cattle on American factory farms are pumped full of hormones, and other animals are fed heavy doses of antibiotics to make them grow faster and to keep them alive in the filthy, overcrowded conditions that would otherwise kill them. Feeding the flesh of these drug-filled animals to our kids is risky because children’s small bodies are especially vulnerable to antibiotic and hormone residues.

The risk to children is so great that many other countries have banned the use of antibiotics and hormones in animals who are killed and used as food—in 1998, for example, the European Union outlawed the use of growth-promoting antibiotics in animals on farms. In America, however, farmers continue to administer powerful growth-stimulating steroids and antibiotics to the animals whom they exploit, and your children are ingesting these drugs with every bite of chicken, pork, fish, and beef that they take.

Vegetarian foods contain no hormones at all, of course. The same is certainly not true of foods that are produced from animals. Confidential industry reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration show that meat contains high levels of hormones and that these hormones are especially dangerous to children. In fact, a 1997 Los Angeles Times article states, “The amount of estradiol in two hamburgers eaten in one day by an 8-year-old boy could increase his total hormone levels by as much as 10%, based on conservative assumptions, because young children have very low natural hormone levels.” The Cancer Prevention Coalition similarly warns, “No dietary levels of hormones are safe, and a dime-sized piece of meat contains billions of millions of [hormone] molecules.”

The negative consequences of feeding meat to children were clearly shown in the early 1980s when thousands of children in Puerto Rico experienced premature sexual growth and developed painful ovarian cysts; the culprit was meat from cattle who had been treated with growth-promoting sex hormones. Meat-based diets are also blamed for the early sexual development of young girls in the United States—nearly half of all black girls and 15 percent of all white girls in America now enter puberty when they are just 8 years old. Plus, scientists have shown a link between the sex hormones in meat and deadly diseases like breast cancer. A major study commissioned by the Pentagon found that Zeranol, a growth-promoting sex hormone that is given to cattle who are used as food, causes “significant” growth of cancerous cells, even when it is administered at levels that are 30 percent below the levels that are currently considered safe by the U.S. government.

If you’re giving meat to your kids, then you’re also giving them doses of powerful sex hormones that have been linked to premature sexual development and cancer. Give them vegetarian foods instead.

Vegetarian foods are also devoid of antibiotics, while the vast majority of animals who are used as food are given growth-stimulating antibiotics to keep them alive in the filthy conditions that would otherwise kill them. Giving meat to children exposes them to these powerful drugs that have not been prescribed by their pediatricians.

Roughly 70 percent of the antibiotics that are used in the United States each year are given to animals on factory farms. On factory farms across America today, the antibiotics that we depend on to treat human illnesses are being used to promote growth in animals and to keep them alive in horrific conditions. The fact that people are exposed to these drugs whenever they consume meat is not the only cause for concern—the American Medical Association and other health groups warn that the overuse of antibiotics leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. In other words, the abuse of powerful pharmaceuticals has spurred the evolution of countless new strains of antibiotic-resistant “superbacteria.” This means that when you get sick, the drugs that your doctor prescribes may no longer work.

These new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have quickly made their way off the farm and into your grocery store’s meat cooler. In one U.S. Department of Agriculture study, researchers found that 67 percent of chicken samples and 66 percent of beef samples were contaminated with “superbugs” that could not be killed by antibiotics. Furthermore, a recent U.S. General Accounting Office report ominously warns, “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been transferred from animals to humans, and many of the studies we reviewed found that this transference poses significant risks for human health.”

As new antibiotic-resistant bacterial mutations spread into the meat supply, we can no longer count on having medications that will effectively fight new strains of common childhood illnesses. Children are particularly vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria because their immune systems are not fully developed. It’s up to us to protect our families by refusing to support an industry that abuses our most powerful medical resources for its own profit. The use of antibiotics to promote growth in animals on factory farms is a serious threat to human health—the best way to reduce the threat is to stop eating meat.

Read More : Meat: Not Suitable for Children (Part II)

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