The Unacceptable Toll of Meat, Alcohol and


Cigarette Consumption on Human Life

Below is a statistical analysis of the heavy cost for humankind of consuming meat, alcohol and cigarettes. Are we willing to allow these behaviors to continuously destroy the fabric of our personal lives and society, making planet Earth a miserable habitat for both humans and animals?

The Real Cost of Alcohol

  • 1,800,000 deaths per year worldwide
  • 60 Million years of life lost per year8
  • Child abuse: 50% of cases
  • Violence toward loved ones: 30% of cases
  • Violent acts: 40–80% of cases
  • Suicides: 20-50% of cases9
Brain Damage
  • Alcoholic blackouts: forgetting all or part of what occurred while drinking
  • Sleep disorders: fragmented sleep
  • Amnesia and Dementia: learning disabilities; recent and long-term memory loss; impairment in visuospatial, abstract and conceptual reasoning
  •  Brain volume shrinkage
    *Temporal Cortex (hearing, comprehension, speech)

    *Hippocampus (memory, navigation); Cerebellum (coordination, equilibrium) 10; Subcortical layers (long-term memory) 11
Organ failure
  • Eyes (tobacco-alcohol-related amblyopia ['lazy eye']); heart, liver, kidneys esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, nerves, blood cells, muscles, bones, sex organs, endocrine glands
Birth defects
  • Mental Retardation: leading cause in Western countries
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Stunted growth; facial deformity
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Miscarriage12

The True Price of Cigarettes

  • 5,000,000 deaths per year worldwide
  • 61,000,000 years of life lost per year13
  • Lungs, pharynx, larynx, cardiovascular system, brain, skin, oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, blood diseases
  • Loss of sight, hearing and sense of smell
  • Lack of energy, poor concentration, depression
  • Bad breath, loss of teeth and hair
Loved ones
  • Harming others through secondhand smoke
  • Children have a higher risk of asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis and ear infections14

The High Cost of Meat Consumption

                        Human Lives (Year 2002)

Cause # Total Deaths (Unit: million) % from Eating Meat # Meat-related Deaths
(Unit: million)
All Causes 57.03   --
Cardiovascular disease 16.73 851 14.20
Cancer 7.12 602 4.27
Infectious diseases 10.90 613 6.60
Diabetes 0.99 504 0.50
25.57 million   Total Years of Life Lost  =  162 million 
Source: World Health Report 2004, World Health Organization5
Medical Costs (USA only): $30-60 billion per year 
Source: "The medical costs attributable to meat consumption," Prev. Medicine. 1995 Nov; 24(6):656-7.6
Animal Lives:  424 billion  
Source: 2005 FAOSTAT, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations 7
 [1]  "A low-fat, plant-based diet lowers the heart attack rate by approximately 85%, and the cancer rate by 60%."
William Castelli, M.D., National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, director of the Framingham Health Study (USA), the longest running epidemiological study in medical history w/approx. 10,000 subjects, 1,200 published papers since 1948
 "The vast majority of all cancer, cardiovascular disease and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet."
           T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., director of the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and
Environment and former Senior Science Advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research
 "If you change to a vegan diet you can reverse heart disease. You can prevent it. You can, I believe, prevent most cases of cancer if you combine dietary changes with avoiding tobacco.  You could prevent probably 70% or 80% of cancers, just by those steps alone. And, obviously, there’s a whole host of other diseases that you would be able to live without."
Neal Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
 2  ditto
 Note: Here “61%” refers to infectious diseases originating from animals; that is, of 1415 human infectious diseases, 61% were adapted from animals, generally through hunting or farming.  For instance, AIDS came from the long-term hunting of monkeys.  Thus, the figure 61% provides a general estimate of deaths due to meat-eating in the past, when diseases were adapting to humans. 
 With respect to current meat-eating, the result is 75% of emerging diseases arising from animals due to increasing population dynamics.  When animal populations increase, disease-causing microbes mutate more rapidly and cause epidemics, which result in sudden, catastrophic decreases.  Over the past decade 92% of the deadliest disease outbreaks have arisen from animals.  (See: “Animal Health at the Crossroads,” National Academy of Science, July 2005, www.nap.edu/reportbrief/11365/11365rb.pdf).  Over time, the following devastating diseases have resulted entirely from meat production:

Million deaths/year

Bushmeat (monkeys)
Pigs, chickens
Whooping cough
Total      7.41 million lives
In addition, many insect-borne tropical diseases such as malaria (1.27 million deaths per year), African sleeping sickness and dengue fever rely partly on livestock hosts, and many diseases that cause diarrhea (producing 1.79 million deaths per year) such as hepatitis and cholera, are spread through infected meat or water contaminated by livestock manure. 
 Such afflictions occur mainly in children living in rural areas, where they are seldom reported.  According to the World Health Organization, these illnesses may occur 300-350 times more than is reported.  Children under five suffer some 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea per year, leaving two million dead.  Although the first instance may not lead to death, it puts its victim at further risk, contributing to malnutrition, which may cause immune deficiencies and these in turn make infants and children more likely to contract other diseases, including food-borne illnesses.   In general, 30% of the world’s population suffers from food-related sicknesses annually, largely from consuming meat or water contaminated by livestock.  Scientists’ estimates of animal agriculture’s contribution to this problem vary from 5% or 95%, although it is assumed that meat production and consumption are responsible for millions of deadly infections every year.


Note: Years of Life Lost = number of years lost by premature death

 Studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower incidence of many illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease
 (http://www.pcrm.org/health/prevmed/diet_alzheimers.html).  A vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet rich in fruits
and vegetables is often prescribed for almost all medical conditions.  For instance, hepatitis patients
are always instructed to reduce meat intake to prevent severe brain damage from liver-related brain disease.
 In addition to disease, half a million people die yearly due to starvation,
and it is common knowledge that a small decrease in meat consumption in a country
such as the US would result in more than enough surplus food to feed all the starving people in the world. 
 Other additional casualties of the meat industry include some of the 730,000 annual victims of violence and war,
conditions which generally arise amid scarcity of agricultural land, and it goes
without saying that vegetarians do not typically engage in killing other humans.


#Slaughtered (Unit: million)















Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Goose




Total                                 424,210.00

 Source: 2005 FAOSTAT, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations: http://faostat.fao.org/
(Fish are calculated as having an average weight of 1 kg; 0.15 kg for shrimp/shellfish;
plus 8% by-catch fish (those caught accidentally while fishing for other species). 
Cf. US landings estimate (PETA)=20 billion “fish”)
 9  http://www.euro.who.int/document/e76235.pdf, “Alcohol and its social consequences”
 11  Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 16th edition McGRAW-Hill, Inc.
 14  http://www.givingupsmoking.co.uk