Have you ever heard that eating meat is the new smoking? Then certainly spoken in a conversation with a vegan, vegetarian or a very thoughtful meat eater. But let's be honest: to what extent can you compare the consumption of meat and tobacco? You eat one and smoke the other, after all. But in fact there are some similarities, for example, in the development of the products, in their consequences for health, the environment and society, or in the course of their acceptance by the population.
In this article, I'd like to share with you some signs that meat is indeed the new smoking. Let's go!
- Unscrupulous industry
- Carcinogenic products
- Environment and animals suffer
- Price increases
- Consumption becomes a habit/addiction
- Poor image
- Industry advertises improved products
- Consumption is not a necessity
- More and more people do without
- Industry has no real arguments
- Pro and anti groups are formed
- People have to talk consumption up or justify it
Important: If you are a meat eater or smoker, please don't take this article personally. Since this is the third time I have heard the statement "Eating meat is the new smoking," I would like to use this article to illustrate the extent to which this - admittedly steep - thesis could be true.
1. unscrupulous industry
Both the tobacco and meat industries have used targeted, large-scale advertising campaigns to ensure that their products are assigned a certain "benefit" in our society. Those who smoke are cool and self-confident, those who eat sausage and steaks (or drink cow's milk) become big and strong. This is ultimately how the misconception arose that Veganism totally unmanly be.
Health and ecological consequences, as well as ethical questions, remain unmentioned to be on the safe side. And if they do arise, they tend to be trivialized and dismissed by those responsible, in order to Greed for profit at the expense of others people, the environment or animals, to be able to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible.
2. carcinogenic products
Everyone probably knows that smoking is carcinogenic. After all, it is now written thick and bold on the packaging. But that the WHO also classifies the consumption of meat as carcinogenic, is still relatively unknown.₁
Regular meat consumption also increases the likelihood of suffering from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.₂ Overall, it can be said that the consumption of both cigarettes and meat has a common effect, Harmful to health are.
Tip: Learn more in the article about diet-related diseases.
3. environment and animals suffer
However, smoking or eating meat is not only a burden on one's own health. Cigarette butts end up in the environment, are eaten by animals and poison soil and water - not to mention passive smoking. The consumption of meat (and, among other things, the associated Animal feed production) is, for example, essential for the Deforestation of the rainforests and the climate change responsible. The agricultural sector itself suffers most from the latter. Added to this is the cruelty to animals to the brutal death in the slaughterhouse - without which meat products cannot exist.
Cigarette consumption could be described as a personal decision, but it can also have serious consequences for others. When it comes to meat consumption, this is out of the question - because every steak demands sacrifice. The essential commonality of smoking and eating meat is that while an individual benefits from the products in the short term (e.g., through relaxation or taste), it is also the case that ALL suffer in the short or long term.
4. price increases
Even as a non-smoker, I have noticed how rapidly and sharply the price of a pack of cigarettes has risen in recent decades. Why? The EU subsidies ended in 2010, the tobacco tax was also increased.
A similar threat is also posed to animal products from the Factory farmingas is already being intensively discussed in politics. Currently, meat (and also eggs and dairy products) are only so cheap because they are reduced tax rate be taxed and "livestock" kept artificially economical by government money will be. For serious climate and animal protection, there is ultimately no other alternative than to increase the prices of climate-damaging and animal-cruelty goods.
5. consumption becomes a habit/addiction
Smoking is definitely an addiction, while eating meat is probably more of a habit. But at the end of the day, smokers and meat eaters indulge in these things on a regular basis because they feel accustomed to the benefits have. Smoking counteracts stress in the short term and the seasoned meat from animals tastes delicious. Definitely another commonality that tends to suggest that meat is the new smoking.
My personal experience: When you have a vegan trial month like the Veganuary you feel better, you don't crave real meat anymore, and you know countless alternatives that are at least as tasty, but more environmentally, animal and health friendly.
6. bad image
Eating meat could also be the new smoking because both the tobacco industry and the meat industry now enjoy a tattered image. The Tönnies employee exploitation scandal in slaughterhouses during the Corona crisis, may have contributed quite decisively to this. Last but not least, it is also due to the fact that the products (of both industries) may be good for an individual in the short term, but fatal consequences in the medium to long term for the planet, health and last but not least all life on earth.
The bad image could ultimately lead to the flight shame (bad conscience due to the greenhouse gases emitted by aircraft) being compounded in the future by the Meat chamois joined.
7. industry advertises improved products
Both the tobacco industry and the meat industry are facing increasing public opposition. Accordingly, they are responding with improved products. The E-cigarette, activated carbon filter or just the organic meat are famous examples. But of course, these developments do not change the fact that they are still harmful to health or cruel to animals and environmentally destructive products.
In the short term, these measures may soothe one or two guilty consciences - but in the long term, these product variants are also doomed to failure. No evil lasts forever.
8. meat eating is also not a necessity
Another possible reason that eating meat could be the new smoking is the non-existent need to consume the products. To smoke was never necessary to eat meat maximum in early human history - but no longer today. Those who like the taste of meat will find countless plant-based alternatives on the supermarket shelves. Not everything tastes perfect, but many things do. It's a matter of taste - just as it is with animal meat.
9. more and more people do without
Worldwide more and more people stop smoking - the global number of smokers is descending.₃ The main reasons for this are, for example, that the most people are now informed about the personal, health effects are that the pack of cigarettes is getting more and more expensive and that there are more sensible, healthier alternatives to stress relief.
Global meat consumption is still on an upward trend₄ - but a similar, declining consumption is expected. In Germany, it is already declining rapidly today.₅ The preference for a meat-free diet is based primarily on ethical, ecological and health-related motives.
As soon as animal products no longer enjoy VAT benefits, livestock farms no longer receive subsidies and the prices of meat, milk, cheese and co. subsequently rise to their true value, it can be expected that the Turning away from animal products increases even further.
Good to know: Just as there are courses on how to stop smoking consistently, there are also more offers for plant-based cooking, for example. Easier access to more sustainable alternatives is also helping to reduce the number of smokers and meat eaters.
10. industry has no real arguments
Who now and then Discussion rounds or heated arguments on the topics of cigarettes or meat consumption will know that those responsible for the two industries quickly run out of arguments to defend their products. Jobs and taste... and then it usually stops. The bottom line is profit. Because jobs and taste are also provided by the more sustainable, healthier and animal-friendly alternatives.
11. pro and anti groups are formed
Each of us probably knows it - and probably each of us finds it uncomfortable. Nevertheless, common behaviors such as smoking or eating meat lead in some form to the fact that in the office or at the table at Christmas dinner Allies in spirit to form groups like "smokers/non-smokers" or "meat eaters/vegans". Incredibly annoying, of course. But since you have to justify your decision for or against the respective behavior in many situations, this is of course much easier if you have like-minded people around you.
Smokers are usually outnumbered by meat eaters these days. Nevertheless, it is noticeable, at least in my environment, that the consumption of animals is increasingly considered uncool and controversial - similar to tobacco consumption.
Notice: It is not necessarily a negative thing when groups form! On the contrary - it is a positive sign that a society is changing.
12. meat eaters have to talk up consumption or justify it.
Since smoking and eating meat are not a necessity and they bring many serious consequences, smokers and meat eaters have to put up with "annoying" questions and opinions from non-smokers and vegetarians or vegans every now and then. Especially the defense of one's own consumption can be very exhausting, since one actually values one's health, but still smokes - and since one is actually loves animals, but still pays money for their deaths. (see also cognitive dissonance)
The commonality of smokers and meat eaters here, for example, is that they have the Understate extent of their consumption and thus gloss over them. "I only smoke at parties" or "I only eat meat 1 - 2 times a week" are prominent examples of this, which are usually not entirely true.
So is eating meat the new smoking?
The many similarities of the two products mentioned here at least speak for this. Both the consumption of cigarettes and that of animal meat have no logical advantages, which is why I believe they are among the things that are actually unnecessary today. The greed for profit, the desire for taste and habitual behavior can also be satisfied in other ways.
Personally, I believe that those responsible have long known that the life cycle of their products is slowly coming to an end. At some point, no one will probably smoke or eat meat anymore, because more sensible, future-oriented, sustainable and animal-friendly alternatives will eventually prevail.
Do you have any questions or comments about this post? Then I look forward to your comment!
₁ Harvard Chan: WHO report says eating processed meat is carcinogenic: understanding the findings (as of Nov. 03, 2015), available at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/11/03/report-says-eating-processed-meat-is-carcinogenic-understanding-the-findings. [23.03.2022].
₂ American Dietetic Association; W. J. Craig; A. R. Mangels: Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets (as of July 2009), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19562864 [Mar. 23, 2022].
₃ Statista GmbH: Number of tobacco users worldwide by WHO region from 2000 to 2025 (as of December 2019), available at https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1167833/umfrage/tabakkonsumenten-weltweit-nach-who-region. [23.03.2022].
₄ M. Janson: The World's Meat Hunger (as of 25.08.2021), available at https://de.statista.com/infografik/20391/produktion-von-fleisch-weltweit. [23.03.2022].
₅ Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE): 57.3 kilograms of meat per person: consumption continues to fall (as of 22.03.2021), https://www.ble.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2021/210322_Fleisch.html. [23.03.2022].