health news
January 13, 2011 posted by

Sad Cow Disease

A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I don’t eat animal products unless I know how the animal was raised and two somewhat terrifying recent reports suggest that neither should you. I try not to get all preachy about lifestyle. I believe that people should spend their short amount of time on earth doing things that make them happy. But the more I learn about the big food industry the more I’m convinced that they’re not in the shiny happy people business. Well, shiny maybe.

First, as reported at The Real Fitness Nerd, “The Center for a Liveable Future came out with this report recently illuminating us to the fact that 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US are used on farm animals, not so much to cure them of a sinus infection or a slight case of the clap, but to help facilitate rapid growth. From their blog:

Antibiotics, one of the world’s greatest medical discoveries, are slowly losing their effectiveness in fighting bacterial infections and the massive use of the drugs in food animals may be the biggest culprit. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is largely due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both people and animals, which leads to an increase in “super-bacteria”. However, people use a much smaller portion of antibiotics sold in this country compared to the amount set aside for food animals. In fact, according to new data just released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), of the antibiotics sold in 2009 for both people and food animals almost 80% were reserved for livestock and poultry. A huge portion of those antibiotics were never intended to fight bacterial infections, rather producers most likely administered them in continuous low-dosages through feed or water to increase the speed at which their animals grew. And that has many public health experts and scientists troubled.

Creepy on so many different levels.”

Creepy indeed, and that’s the lighter half of it. In a story from the San Francisco Chronicle titled The Most Important Disease You Probably Never Heard Of, David Barash links the massive rise in Crohn’s disease in people to poor animal raising practices by the meat industry.

Welcome to Johne’s (“yo-knees”), the most important disease that you probably never heard of. It is a serious, debilitating and sometimes fatal illness of cattle, goats, and sheep (among other animals), which the livestock and dairy industry is desperate to keep out of the public consciousness, despite the fact that it costs industrial agriculture many millions of dollars every year.

The reason for such industry reticence is that Johne’s disease in livestock is very similar – and possibly even identical – to Crohn’s disease in people, which currently afflicts an estimated 500,000 sufferers in North America alone, causing severe ulcerations of the gastrointestinal tract, immense pain, and loss of appetite and weight, often requiring surgical removal of the damaged bowel. And the big, dirty secret of today’s industrial dairy and meat producers is that animals suffering from flagrant Johne’s disease currently provide milk and meat directly to the American consumer.

Of course, in the web of artificial life that is big food these topics are related. Is it any wonder that this new crop of artificially large livestock is being targeted by an illness causing their bodies to waste away? Methinks not so much. The article then delves into an interesting history of trial and error with antibiotics where we tout what goes well and bury what doesn’t. It’s all very scientific until:

This is itself an extraordinary fact, worth repeating and emphasizing: Cattle suffering from a severe bacterial infection related to tuberculosis and leprosy, characterized by pussy, intestinal ulcers and overall body wasting, and which may be literally identical to a pathogen that causes a devastating illness in genetically susceptible people, are – right now, as you read this – routinely being slaughtered, and their infected meat introduced into the food stream.

Wait! What?! No wonder he felt the need to write it twice. I don’t think you need to be a PETA activist to show a little animal compassion in this case. And regardless of the poor animals, I’m sure the cast of Jackass would enthusiastically choose a vomit omelet over a Whopper made from Johne’s-riddled livestock.

In an old western Paul Newman plays Hud, a despicable character; the black sheep son of a well-to-do rancher who is trying, unsuccessfully, to teach him to run the family business. In one scene the herd is infected with deadly hoof and mouth disease. Upon hearing they needed to be destroyed before they infect anyone else’s cattle Hud says, “They look ok to me. Can’t we sell them quickly before they look sick?” His father stares at him, almost unbelievably, with a look that conveys a lost cause as this human, surely now, is beyond the possibility of salvation says, “Son, you are an unprincipled man.” Hud kills his father and takes over the business. Given the situation as it stands, I think I may have been watching a documentary.


  • Yuck!!! Eye-opening article! Thanks for posting!

  • Oh my…makes me understand veganism a little better.Thanks for an illuminating article. You never fail to make me think twice about things.

  • Thanks for sharing. Good to know. I will be a lot more careful about where my meat and dairy come from…luckily I live in a rural area so I have some local options.

  • I don't even want to know what happens bc everyone is so greedy they don't about the results just the green backs. Plus on top of that, what they feed then in general is another problem hence why organic everything is popular.The "sickness" industry will always make more then the "wellness" because of the money difference. Sadly you can't trust anyone to have much morals when it comes to the sin of money and greed. Wow, great post. I eat mostly chicken (chick-a-tarian) and it may be just as scary. Should I go vegan???

  • You should NOT eat chicken.If you think you should, you should read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.I guarantee, after reading that book, you will take a pass on poultry.Guarantee. No seriously, you'll be absolutely off of chicken. And you'll be a better person for it.-Josh

  • That why I hunt deer

  • Do your research!!! To say "don't eat chicken, beef, fish, or pork at all" is absolutely insane!!! God gave us these animals to consume and thats why our bodies cannot live with out them (vitamins use animals too!!) Do a full research on both sides, don't just look at one side!!!!

  • knowing where your food is coming from is the safest way to go about it! Fruit and veggies can have crap sprayed all over them too so it isn't just meat!

  • You need to stop watching what Hollywood produces. There are way to many regulations on cattle producing theses days to allow most of this to happen. Sure your going to have a rouge "cowboy" every once in a while but its not to comman. EAT MORE BEEF!!!!!

  • "Do your research" followed immediately by a comment about god? Research has shown that the primates from which humans evolved have flat molars, same as ours, and long digestive tracts, same as ours. If our bodies couldn't live without meat, we wouldn't have to cook it to keep from getting sick. If our bodies couldn't live without meat, I'd be dead, yet I'm not typing from the grave. We call our pointy teeth "canines," but that's dental nomenclature. It doesn't mean we were built to rip apart raw meat and swallow it like a cat. Tigers and dogs have canine teeth–we do not. Tigers and dogs have short digestive tracts so the raw meat does not rot inside their bodies and make them sick like it does us. Do your SCIENTIFIC research, and you will have an intelligent argument instead of just pointing blindly to a god that not everyone believes in.

  • So nasty. So creepy.Thanks Steve!

  • Reading this, I am even less surprised (not that I was all that surprised in the first place) that a raw, low-fat, vegan diet cures Crohn's. See Dr. David Klein's "Self-Healing Colitis and Crohn's" as well as his website

  • Prove it to me! give me the link to a reliable source then i'll believe you that ur not making this upPEOPLE DONT TRUST EVERYTHING U READ, CHECK THE SOURCE

  • ""Do your research" followed immediately by a comment about god?"Darn, you beat me to it!"God" didn't "give" us anything. We're taking it from these other sentient beings because we are greedy and selfish. I've been veg 12 years, vegan the last 7. I'm not dead. I'm not ill or emaciated or crippled.In fact, I ran my first two marathons in the last couple months with two more registered for in 2011. Look at all the vegan athletes and everyday people who thriving on a purely plant based diet. We DO NOT need to eat animals. It's bad for our health, as noted above, and REALLY bad for theirs.So called "humane" meat is no better. If you care about farmed animals and don't want to cause them suffering, don't eat them or their bodily fluids. Period.

  • listen people….I am all about being healthy.And I am extremely picky what I eat and also feed my family. But as a ranchers wife, I am highly offended that you think we all treat our animals as garbage!! My husband and I take great pride …in raising healthy beef and we treat them as humanly as possible!! We do not "drug" them up and we do not sell anything that is sick. We eat the beef we raise as well, so we are extremely picky how they are raised and what they are fed. We are not the only Ranchers out there that work extremely hard and take great pride in the beef that we raise and sell. The beef in the USA is highly regulated, unlike other countries who are allowed to ship into the USA.I suggest you do more research, make sure you read your labels and quit buying beef or meat that has been shipped to us from other countries!All I am saying is just be aware of what is out there….we are not all bad and we are sick of being beat up by some of you who do not know all the facts!! I invite anyone of you to my ranch, I will personally show you how we raise the beef we are selling to you!!

  • Full of great info as always – thanks Steve! Sarah/appifanie, 5+ year vegan 🙂

  • This article is right on. The animal agriculture business is disgusting. If anyone that has any doubt, all they have to do is google videos on how farm animals are raised and it's all there for you to learn. Meat and dairy are the absolute worst things that you can put in your body….dead, rotting corpses pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. Dairy products full of puss and hormones, you would be shocked. The smartest thing you can do is find out how your food is raised, how the animals were slaughtered and then processed and the cruelty that the animals suffered in between. Your mind will be blown by what you find out. To bring 'god' into this issue is just plain silly. Not everyone believes in your god or a god. "God" has nothing to do with how animals are raised, what goes into their bodies, and how they are treated. People wonder why they are getting sick…it's because the animals are diseased, overcrowded, overbred, and inbred, and they are forced to stand and lay in their own feces all day long and cannot get away from it. The same goes for chickens as well. Here's a great video for everyone to start with and branch out from there…'m not trying to preach, just trying to inform. I believe that everyone should educate themselves to be able to make informed decisions. I had no idea that any of this went on until I did some research. What I found out was mindblowing enough to make a lifestyle change. I have been vegan for one year, have lost weight, my skin improved and I feel better than ever. A cruelty-free diet is the way to go…Everyone will have their own opinion on this matter, but facts are facts. Humans do not "need" meat/dairy to live. That is an absolute fallacy. A little research will go a long way.

  • I recommend THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA, by Michael Pollan. It will open your eyes about "Big Food," including so-called organic foods.

  • Holy smokes Steve,I think you hit a nerve with a lot of folks with this one. My only comment would be that these comments certainly show one thing, it's difficult to get people to even discuss ideas that challenge their world view. I think some of the comments are actually more disturbing than the information that prompted them.

  • After watching "Food, Inc", we really started to reivaluate our choices as it related to meat specifically. We have a local butcher shop that helps by giving us the information about where and how fed, etc. Not all of their food is totally clear of antibiotics, but they will tell you- straight up if you ask.

  • Real nice,, promoting your product by spreading unfounded rumors,, then offering proof in the form of linking to another individual associated with this same product. If your product was actually as great as you want everyone to believe you would not be spreading lies and unfounded rumors as facts!SHOW real live Honest links if what you say really is true. No doubt you will make sure my opinion is not included in your mantra as it doesn't fit your adjenda.. Sad,, just sad,,, Btw.. I am a farmer with more years of knowledge and experience than you have been alive.

  • Interesting comments.Our bodies are designed to digest animal proteins. I urge you all to read The Paelo Solution. There's a lot of science explaining how our bodies digest and assimilate different foods, including animal protein.I tried vegan. I was eating the right amt of calories and was hungry and unsatisfied. I was losing mental focus. I started craving animal protein. So – I ate some chicken and beef. Not only was it unbelievably satisfying and delicious, I felt amazing!I think there are 2 different issues being discussed in this post:Veganism as a lifestyle choice.Animal farming.If you preach veganism, I better not see you wearing or using *any* animal products. You also better get your B12 levels checked. You can only get it from animal sources in your diet unless you supplement. Without B12, you can have permanent neurological damage. If food safety and farming is your concern: buy organic; eat grass fed beef (much healthier for you); know your supplier.

  • I'm sorry, but you can't use the "god" argument about creating animals for us to eat. I totally agree with cavemen eating animals FOR SURVIVAL, they had no other choice and needed to kill animals for clothing and shelter… but NOW? it's year 22011 and as evolved humans (at least I think we have evolved right?) with all the scientific research (that's proven) I would think humans would want to use their brains and HELP THEMSELVES to a better life. Eating the animals that "GOD" created for us? Are you serious? I'm sorry, I didn't know animals were created for me to abuse and eat and then get sick from. I respect farmers who still handle animals with care until their last breathing moment. I personally don't eat meat. Why? because I don't need it. As a compassionate and intelligent being, I've done enough research to know that there are several options out there for me to nourish my body. I really believe it's very irresponsible of people to eat meat just because it tastes good, or because it's on the dollar menu. Even the local news are reporting mad cow disease and other disease out breaks linked to animals. Let's evolve people. If you chose to believe in GOd.. then why not think like GOD? In a love driven way. "GOD put the animals on this earth for us to live WITH, for us to care for them and give them a better life, just how we try to give each other a better life! Animals are innocent creatures, let's care for them instead of killing them! In the end, you will benefit yourself and your family. Why not? you will prevent disease and have life longevity.

  • Humans do not need meat or dairy? How do you meet your Vitamin B deficiency which is caused by a plant based diet? What is a baby human's first food? It isn't broccoli. It is its mother's milk. That is dairy, my friends. I eat a diet high in plants and vegetables, but I do occasionally eat organic poultry and I drink raw, organic milk. Many of the problems associate with meat and dairy are not associated with organic meat and raw organic dairy. I was seriously considering a raw vegan diet, but upon researching raw milk I was blown away by all of the nutrition in it. Pasteurized dairy is dead food and is one of the worst things that you can put into your body. But raw milk is a wonderful food that also is known to cure Crohn's disease, as well as many other ailments. Research this and you too will be surprised.

  • Um, excuse me. Can I point something out to many of the commentators, both vegans, anti-vegans, and small farmers? The first sentence of this article reads: "I don’t eat animal products unless I know how the animal was raised and two somewhat terrifying recent reports suggest that neither should you."The FIRST sentence! This article is not promoting veganism or disparging to small sustainable farmers. What the hell are you talking about? Can any of you read or do you all work for Con Agra?

  • Anon, et. al.,When I said don't eat chicken, I guess I should have been more specific. Don't eat chicken that you by in a fucking super market, or at pretty much any restaurant in America. (which for most Americans means not eating chicken.)Grow your own chicken, cut off it's head, pluck it and eat it.I'm not a crazed vegan.I'm just finished eating an elk burrito. From an elk that I watched shot (by a friend) that I helped field dress, and that I know where it was processed (another friend).Eating meat from your super market or your local fucking Arby's is killing you. It's killing your children. And it's going to kill your grand children.The bottom line is that the industrial food manufacturing industry in this country is fucked.-Josh

  • I'm a dairy farmer and would like to comment on this. I was put on this earth by God to raise dairy cows. I love my cows like they are family. We don't use antibiotics on a low level in feed or water for several reasons. 1. We don't need to because we care for our animals. 2. Dairy is extremely regulated. We cannot sell milk with antibiotics because it could be dangerous to the consumer. I wouldn't want my family to drink milk that has antibiotic residue. My husband is allergic to penicillin. When we have a cow that is treated with antibiotics, all of her milk is kept separate from the other cows. Another point to remember is that if you have a bacterial infection would you want an antibiotic from your doctor to make you feel better. We treat cows that need to be treated because we feel it is humane. Milk and meat provide many nutrients. Milk provides much more than calcium. It provides potassium, phosphorus, b vitamins, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D (fortified). I think it is important to have a healthy, well- balanced diet and that includes dairy and meat. Also, blogs and you tube are not cited references.

  • "Homer Bannon said… Um, excuse me. Can I point something out to many of the commentators, both vegans, anti-vegans, and small farmers? The first sentence of this article reads:"I don’t eat animal products unless I know how the animal was raised and two somewhat terrifying recent reports suggest that neither should you."The FIRST sentence! This article is not promoting veganism or disparaging to small sustainable farmers."

  • During my tempo run days at auburn, I was once chased through some back trails off campus by a crazed escaped cow. After reading this, can't blame it for wanting to trample me

  • A special thanks from my side for opening my eyes.

  • A special thanks from my side for opening my eyes.

  • Regardless of lifestyle choice, the state of industrial "farming" and food production in this country is alarming. There is so much money involved – so many livelihoods, businesses, and stakeholders hang in the balance – that it can be hard to get to the real truth so we can make informed decisions.That said, I agree with Steve: When it comes to meat and dairy, I don't eat it unless I truly know where it came from. I wish it were easier for anyone who wants to select their food that way, regardless of residential location and financial situation.

  • Finishing off a nice chicken burrito right now. Absolutely fricking delicious and not a hint of Crohn's yet. I'll try the beef next time to up my odds.

  • Hate to get involved in this thread…. but Steve could you give your opinion on these studies?;col1

  • I eat meat, but I only buy meat that has not been injected with hormones, antibiotics or any junk for that matter. I only buy beef that is grass fed, and chicken that is vegetarian fed. Just because ground chuck is on sale for $1.99 a lb does not mean you should buy it. Go for organic as much as possible, and if you can't afford it get more protein from vegetarian sources. Eggs and dairy are worth every cent for the organic version. It is pricey but you are worth it. We are fine for eating meat as long as the animal has a good diet and isn't pumped full of junk. I bet we could cure 50% of the diseases in the US by not eating fast food, not drinking any sugary drinks, and eating organic. Make the investment in you and your families healthy by eating organic as much as you can.

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