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Meat is animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 flesh
Flesh
In vertebrate animals, flesh is the colloquial for biological tissue which consists of skeletal muscles and fat as opposed to bones, viscera and integuments. Flesh may be used as food, in which case it is called meat....

 that is used as food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle
Skeletal muscle
Skeletal muscle is a form of striated muscle tissue existing under control of the somatic nervous system- i.e. it is voluntarily controlled. It is one of three major muscle types, the others being cardiac and smooth muscle...

 and associated fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

 and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal
Offal
Offal , also called, especially in the United States, variety meats or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs other than...

. In commerce, meat is generally used by the meat packing industry
Meat packing industry
The meat packing industry handles the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock...

 in a more restrictive sense—the flesh
Flesh
In vertebrate animals, flesh is the colloquial for biological tissue which consists of skeletal muscles and fat as opposed to bones, viscera and integuments. Flesh may be used as food, in which case it is called meat....

 of mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

ian species (pigs, cattle, lambs, etc.) raised and prepared for human consumption, to the exclusion of fish
Fish (food)
Fish is a food consumed by many species, including humans. The word "fish" refers to both the animal and to the food prepared from it. Fish has been an important source of protein for humans throughout recorded history.-Terminology:...

, poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

, and other animals. Usage varies worldwide by culture, and some countries such as India have large populations that avoid the consumption of all or most kinds of meat. Game or bush meat is also generally distinguished from that produced by agriculture.

The consumption of meat has various traditions and rituals associated with it in different cultures such as kosher and halal
Halal
Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law...

 and its production is generally regulated by state authorities as well. This article is mainly focused on that process from primary production to consumption.

Etymology


The word meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general. The term is related to mad in Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, mat in Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 and Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, and matur in Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, which also mean 'food'. The word "mete" also exists in Old Frisian
Old Frisian
Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine and Weser on the European North Sea coast. The Frisian settlers on the coast of South Jutland also spoke Old Frisian but no medieval texts of this area are known...

 (and to a lesser extent, modern West Frisian
West Frisian language
West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

) to denote important food, differentiating it from "swiets" (sweets) and "dierfied" (animal feed).

One definition that refers to meat as not including fish developed over the past few hundred years and has religious influences. The distinction between fish and "meat" is codified by the Jewish dietary law of kashrut
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

, regarding the mixing of milk and meat, which does not forbid the mixing of milk and fish. Modern Jewish legal practice (halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

) on kashrut classifies the flesh of both mammals and birds as "meat"; fish are considered to be parve, neither meat nor a dairy food. The Catholic dietary restriction on "meat" on Fridays also does not apply to the cooking and eating of fish.

The Latin word carō "meat" (also the root of 'carnal', referring to the 'pleasures of the flesh') is often a euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 for sexual pleasure, effected from the function performed by fleshy organs. Thus 'meat' may refer to the human body in a sensual, or sexual, connotation. A meat market
Meat market
A meat market is, traditionally, a marketplace where meat is sold, often by a butcher.It may also refer to:* Meat packing industry* As an alternative spelling for meet market, a singles event or location with many single people, especially one where attendees are rapidly sizing up members of the...

, in addition to simply denoting a market
Market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

 where meat is sold, also refers to a place or situation where humans are treated or viewed as commodities
Commodity
In economics, a commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Economic commodities comprise goods and services....

, especially a place known as one where a sexual partner may be found.

"Meat" may also be used to refer to humans humorously or indifferently . In military slang, "meat shield" refers to soldiers sent towards an enemy to draw fire away from another unit.

History



Paleontological
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

 evidence suggests that meat constituted a substantial proportion of the diet of even the earliest humans. Early hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

s depended on the organized hunting of large animals such as bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 and deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

.

The domestication
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 of animals, of which we have evidence dating back to the end of the last glacial period (c. 10,000 years BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

), allowed the systematic production of meat and the breeding
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

 of animals with a view to improving meat production. The animals which are now the principal sources of meat were domesticated in conjunction with the development of early civilizations:
  • Chicken
    Chicken
    The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...


  • Sheep, originating from western Asia, were domesticated with the help of dogs prior to the establishment of settled agriculture
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

    , likely as early as the eighth millennium BC. Several breeds of sheep were established in ancient Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

     and Egypt
    Ancient Egypt
    Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

     by 3500–3000 BC. Presently, more than 200 sheep breeds exist.

  • Cattle
    Cattle
    Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

     were domesticated in Mesopotamia after settled agriculture was established about 5000 BC, and several breeds were established by 2500 BC. Modern domesticated cattle fall into the groups Bos taurus (European cattle) and Bos indicus (zebu), both descended from the now-extinct aurochs
    Aurochs
    The aurochs , the ancestor of domestic cattle, were a type of large wild cattle which inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is now extinct; it survived in Europe until 1627....

    . The breeding of beef cattle
    Beef cattle
    Beef cattle are cattle raised for meat production . The meat of cattle is known as beef. When raised in a feedlot cattle are known as feeder cattle. Many such feeder cattle are born in cow-calf operations specifically designed to produce beef calves...

    , cattle optimized for meat production as opposed to animals best suited for draught or dairy purposes, began in the middle of the 18th century.

  • Domestic pig
    Domestic pig
    The domestic pig is a domesticated animal that traces its ancestry to the wild boar, and is considered a subspecies of the wild boar or a distinct species in its own right. It is likely the wild boar was domesticated as early as 13,000 BC in the Tigris River basin...

    s, which are descended from wild boars, are known to have existed about 2500 BC in modern-day Hungary and in Troy
    Troy
    Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

    ; earlier pottery from Jericho
    Jericho
    Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

     and Egypt depicts wild pigs. Pork
    Pork
    Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

     sausages and ham
    Ham
    Ham is a cut of meat from the thigh of the hind leg of certain animals, especiallypigs. Nearly all hams sold today are fully cooked or cured.-Etymology:...

    s were of great commercial importance in Greco-Roman times. Pigs continue to be bred intensively as they are being optimized to produce meat best suited for specific meat products.


Other animals are, or have been raised or hunted for their flesh. The type of meat consumed varies much in different cultures, changes over time, and depends on different factors such as the availability of the animals and traditions.
  • Horse
    Horse meat
    Horse meat is the culinary name for meat cut from a horse. It is a major meat in only a few countries, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America to Asia. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses...

    s are commonly eaten in countries such as France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     or Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    . Horses (and other large mammal
    Mammal
    Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

    s as reindeer
    Reindeer
    The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

    s) were hunted during the Late Paleolithic in western Europe.
  • Dog
    Dog meat
    Dog meat refers to edible parts and the flesh derived from dogs. Human consumption of dog meat has been recorded in many parts of the world, including ancient China, ancient Mexico, and ancient Rome. According to contemporary reports, dog meat is consumed in a variety of countries such as...

    s are widely consumed in China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    , Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

    , the Philippines and South Korea
    South Korea
    The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

    . Dogs are also occasionally eaten in the Arctic
    Arctic
    The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

     regions. Historically, dog meat has been consumed in various part of the world, such as Hawaii
    Hawaii
    Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

    , Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    , Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

     and Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

    .
  • Cat
    Cat meat
    Cat meat or cat flesh, meat prepared from domestic cats for human consumption , is varied in its acceptability as a food source in different parts of the world...

    s are consumed in Southern China, Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

     and certain rural parts of Switzerland.
  • Guinea pig
    Guinea pig
    The guinea pig , also called the cavy, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea...

    s are raised for their flesh in the Andes
    Andes
    The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

    .
  • Whale
    Whale
    Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

    s and dolphin
    Dolphin
    Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

    s are hunted, partly for their flesh, by aboriginal communities in Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    , Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

    , Siberia
    Siberia
    Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

    , Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    , by the Faroe Islands
    Faroe Islands
    The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

    , Greenland
    Greenland
    Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

    , Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

    , Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean....

     and by two small communities in Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

    .


Modern agriculture employs a number of techniques, such as progeny testing
Progeny testing
Progeny Testing is a test of the value for selective breeding of an individual's genotype by looking at the progeny produced by different matings.- Progeny Testing :...

, to make animals evolve
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 rapidly towards having the qualities desired by meat producers. For instance, in the wake of well-publicised health concerns associated with saturated fat
Saturated fat
Saturated fat is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the individual carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain. That is, the chain of carbon atoms is fully "saturated" with hydrogen atoms...

s in the 1980s, the fat content of UK beef, pork and lamb fell from 20–26 percent to 4–8 percent within a few decades, both due to selective breeding for leanness and changed methods of butchery. Methods of genetic engineering
Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest...

 aimed at improving the meat production qualities of animals are now also becoming available.

Even though it is a very old industry, meat production continues to be shaped strongly by the rapidly evolving demands of customers. The trend towards selling meat in pre-packaged cuts has increased the demand for larger breeds of cattle, which are better suited to producing such cuts. Even more animals not previously exploited for their meat are now being farmed, especially the more agile and mobile species, whose muscles tend to be developed better than those of cattle, sheep or pigs. Examples include the various antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

 species, the zebra
Zebra
Zebras are several species of African equids united by their distinctive black and white stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds...

, water buffalo
Water buffalo
The water buffalo is a domesticated bovid widely kept in Asia, Europe and South America.Water buffalo can also refer to:*Wild water buffalo , the wild ancestor of the domestic water buffalo...

 and camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

, as well as nonmammals, such as the crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

, emu
Emu
The Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. There are three subspecies of Emus in Australia...

 and ostrich
Ostrich
The Ostrich is one or two species of large flightless birds native to Africa, the only living member of the genus Struthio. Some analyses indicate that the Somali Ostrich may be better considered a full species apart from the Common Ostrich, but most taxonomists consider it to be a...

. Another important trend in contemporary meat production is organic farming
Organic farming
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm...

 which, while providing no organoleptic
Organoleptic
Organoleptic is an adjective used to refer to the aspects of food or other substances as experienced by the senses, including taste, sight, smell, and touch.-USDA uses:...

 benefit to meat so produced, meets an increasing demand for numerous reasons
Motivations for organic agriculture
Within the food industry, defining the benefits of organic food is largely left to word of mouth, media coverage, and the promotional efforts of organic advocates. Major food and beverage corporations have rapidly moved to acquire significant stake in both fresh and processed organic products...

.

Growth and development of meat animals


Agricultural science
Agricultural science
Agricultural science is a broad multidisciplinary field that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. -Agriculture and agricultural science:The two terms are often confused...

 has identified several factors bearing on the growth and development of meat in animals.

Genetics

Trait Heritability
Reproductive efficiency 2–10%
Meat quality 15–30%
Growth 20–40%
Muscle/fat ratio 40–60%

Several economically important traits in meat animals are heritable to some degree (see the table to the right) and can thus be selected for by breeding
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

. In cattle, certain growth features are controlled by recessive genes which have not so far been controlled, complicating breeding. One such trait is dwarfism
Dwarfism
Dwarfism is short stature resulting from a medical condition. It is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches  , although this definition is problematic because short stature in itself is not a disorder....

; another is the doppelender or "double muscling
Myostatin
Myostatin is a secreted TGF beta protein family member that inhibits muscle differentiation and growth. Myostatin is produced primarily in skeletal muscle cells, circulates in the blood and acts on muscle tissue, by binding a cell-bound receptor called the activin type II receptor...

" condition, which causes muscle hypertrophy
Muscle hypertrophy
Muscle hypertrophy is an increase in the size of muscle cells. It differs from muscle hyperplasia, which is the formation of new muscle cells.-Hypertrophy stimuli:A range of stimuli can increase the volume of muscle cells...

 and thereby increases the animal's commercial value. Genetic analysis
Genetic analysis
Genetic analysis can be used generally to describe methods both used in and resulting from the sciences of genetics and molecular biology, or to applications resulting from this research....

 continues to reveal the genetic mechanisms that control numerous aspects of the endocrine system
Endocrine system
In physiology, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its chemicals using ducts. It derives from the Greek words "endo"...

 and, through it, meat growth and quality.

Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest...

 techniques can shorten breeding programmes significantly because they allow for the identification and isolation of gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s coding for desired traits, and for the reincorporation of these genes into the animal genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

. To enable such manipulation, research is ongoing to map the entire genome
Genome project
Genome projects are scientific endeavours that ultimately aim to determine the complete genome sequence of an organism and to annotate protein-coding genes and other important genome-encoded features...

 of sheep, cattle and pigs. Some research has already seen commercial application. For instance, a recombinant
Recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA molecules are DNA sequences that result from the use of laboratory methods to bring together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in biological organisms...

 bacterium has been developed which improves the digestion of grass in the rumen
Rumen
The rumen, also known as a paunch, forms the larger part of the reticulorumen, which is the first chamber in the alimentary canal of ruminant animals. It serves as the primary site for microbial fermentation of ingested feed...

 of cattle, and some specific features of muscle fibres have been genetically altered.

Experimental reproductive cloning of commercially important meat animals such as sheep, pig or cattle has been successful. The multiple asexual reproduction of animals bearing desirable traits can thus be anticipated, although this is not yet practical on a commercial scale.

Environment


Heat regulation in livestock is of great economic significance, because mammals attempt to maintain a constant optimal body temperature. Low temperatures tend to prolong animal development and high temperatures tend to retard it. Depending on their size, body shape and insulation through tissue and fur, some animals have a relatively narrow zone of temperature tolerance and others (e.g. cattle) a broad one. Static magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

s, for reasons still unknown, also retard animal development.

Nutrition


The quality and quantity of usable meat depends on the animal's plane of nutrition, i.e., whether it is over- or underfed. Scientists disagree, however, about how exactly the plane of nutrition influences carcase
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 composition.

The composition of the diet, especially the amount of protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 provided, is also an important factor regulating animal growth. Ruminant
Ruminant
A ruminant is a mammal of the order Artiodactyla that digests plant-based food by initially softening it within the animal's first compartment of the stomach, principally through bacterial actions, then regurgitating the semi-digested mass, now known as cud, and chewing it again...

s, which may digest cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

, are better adapted to poor-quality diets, but their ruminal microorganisms degrade high-quality protein if supplied in excess. Because producing high-quality protein animal feed is expensive (see also Environmental impact below), several techniques are employed or experimented with to ensure maximum utilization of protein. These include the treatment of feed with formalin to protect amino acids during their passage through the rumen
Rumen
The rumen, also known as a paunch, forms the larger part of the reticulorumen, which is the first chamber in the alimentary canal of ruminant animals. It serves as the primary site for microbial fermentation of ingested feed...

, the recycling of manure
Manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

 by feeding it back to cattle mixed with feed concentrates, or the partial conversion of petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

s to protein through microbial action.

In plant feed, environmental factors influence the availability of crucial nutrient
Nutrient
A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy...

s or micronutrient
Micronutrient
Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans and other living things throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a whole range of physiological functions, but which the organism itself cannot produce. For people, they include dietary trace minerals in amounts generally less than 100...

s, a lack or excess of which can cause a great many ailments. In Australia, for instance, where the soil contains limited phosphate
Phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

, cattle are being fed additional phosphate to increase the efficiency of beef production. Also in Australia, cattle and sheep in certain areas were often found losing their appetite and dying in the midst of rich pasture; this was at length found to be a result of cobalt
Cobalt
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

 deficiency in the soil. Plant toxin
Toxin
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; man-made substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded...

s are also a risk to grazing animals; for instance, fluoracetate, found in some African and Australian plants, kills by disrupting the cellular metabolism. Certain man-made pollutant
Pollutant
A pollutant is a waste material that pollutes air, water or soil, and is the cause of pollution.Three factors determine the severity of a pollutant: its chemical nature, its concentration and its persistence. Some pollutants are biodegradable and therefore will not persist in the environment in the...

s such as methylmercury
Methylmercury
Methylmercury is an organometallic cation with the formula . It is a bioaccumulative environmental toxicant.-Structure:...

 and some pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 residues present a particular hazard due to their tendency to bioaccumulate in meat, potentially poisoning consumers.

Human intervention


Meat producers may seek to improve the fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

 of female animals through the administration of gonadotrophic or ovulation
Ovulation
Ovulation is the process in a female's menstrual cycle by which a mature ovarian follicle ruptures and discharges an ovum . Ovulation also occurs in the estrous cycle of other female mammals, which differs in many fundamental ways from the menstrual cycle...

-inducing hormone
Hormone
A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

s. In pig production, sow
Domestic pig
The domestic pig is a domesticated animal that traces its ancestry to the wild boar, and is considered a subspecies of the wild boar or a distinct species in its own right. It is likely the wild boar was domesticated as early as 13,000 BC in the Tigris River basin...

 infertility is a common problem, possibly due to excessive fatness. No methods currently exist to augment the fertility of male animals. Artificial insemination
Artificial insemination
Artificial insemination, or AI, is the process by which sperm is placed into the reproductive tract of a female for the purpose of impregnating the female by using means other than sexual intercourse or natural insemination...

 is now routinely used to produce animals of the best possible genetic quality, and the efficiency of this method is improved through the administration of hormones that synchronize the ovulation cycles within groups of females.

Growth hormones, particularly anabolic agents such as steroid
Steroid
A steroid is a type of organic compound that contains a characteristic arrangement of four cycloalkane rings that are joined to each other. Examples of steroids include the dietary fat cholesterol, the sex hormones estradiol and testosterone, and the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone.The core...

s, are used in some countries to accelerate muscle growth in animals. This practice has given rise to the beef hormone controversy
Beef hormone controversy
The Beef Hormone Dispute is one of the two most intractable transatlantic agricultural disputes since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, the other being the Banana War....

, an international trade dispute. It may also decrease the tenderness of meat, although research on this is inconclusive, and have other effects on the composition of the muscle flesh. Where castration
Castration
Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.-Humans:...

 is used to improve control over male animals, its side effects are also counteracted by the administration of hormones.

Sedative
Sedative
A sedative or tranquilizer is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement....

s may be administered to animals to counteract stress factors and increase weight gain. The feeding of antibiotic
Antibiotic
An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic; today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic has come to denote a broader range of...

s to certain animals has been shown to improve growth rates also. This practice is particularly prevalent in the USA, but has been banned in the EU, partly because it causes antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance is a type of drug resistance where a microorganism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic. While a spontaneous or induced genetic mutation in bacteria may confer resistance to antimicrobial drugs, genes that confer resistance can be transferred between bacteria in a...

 in pathogen
Pathogen
A pathogen gignomai "I give birth to") or infectious agent — colloquially, a germ — is a microbe or microorganism such as a virus, bacterium, prion, or fungus that causes disease in its animal or plant host...

ic microorganisms.

Biochemical composition


Numerous aspects of the biochemical composition of meat vary in complex ways depending on the species, breed, sex, age, plane of nutrition, training and exercise of the animal, as well as on the anatomical location of the musculature involved. Even between animals of the same litter and sex there are considerable differences in such parameters as the percentage of intramuscular fat.

Main constituents


Adult mammalian muscle
Muscle
Muscle is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to...

 flesh consists of roughly 75 percent water, 19 percent protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, 2.5 percent intramuscular fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

, 1.2 percent carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

s and 2.3 percent other soluble non-protein substances. These include nitrogenous compounds, such as amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s, and inorganic substances such as minerals.

Muscle proteins are either soluble in water (sarcoplasm
Sarcoplasm
The Sarcoplasm of a muscle fiber is comparable to the cytoplasm of other cells, but it houses unusually large amounts of glycosomes and significant amounts of myoglobin, an oxygen binding protein...

ic proteins, about 11.5 percent of total muscle mass) or in concentrated salt solutions (myofibrillar proteins, about 5.5 percent of mass). There are several hundred sarcoplasmic proteins. Most of them – the glycolytic enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s – are involved in the glycolytic pathway, i.e., the conversion of stored energy into muscle power. The two most abundant myofibrillar proteins, myosin
Myosin
Myosins comprise a family of ATP-dependent motor proteins and are best known for their role in muscle contraction and their involvement in a wide range of other eukaryotic motility processes. They are responsible for actin-based motility. The term was originally used to describe a group of similar...

 and actin
Actin
Actin is a globular, roughly 42-kDa moonlighting protein found in all eukaryotic cells where it may be present at concentrations of over 100 μM. It is also one of the most highly-conserved proteins, differing by no more than 20% in species as diverse as algae and humans...

, are responsible for the muscle's overall structure. The remaining protein mass consists of connective tissue
Connective tissue
"Connective tissue" is a fibrous tissue. It is one of the four traditional classes of tissues . Connective Tissue is found throughout the body.In fact the whole framework of the skeleton and the different specialized connective tissues from the crown of the head to the toes determine the form of...

 (collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

 and elastin
Elastin
Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched. Elastin is also an important load-bearing tissue in the bodies of...

) as well as organelle
Organelle
In cell biology, an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function, and is usually separately enclosed within its own lipid bilayer....

 tissue.

Fat in meat can be either adipose tissue
Adipose tissue
In histology, adipose tissue or body fat or fat depot or just fat is loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes. It is technically composed of roughly only 80% fat; fat in its solitary state exists in the liver and muscles. Adipose tissue is derived from lipoblasts...

, used by the animal to store energy and consisting of "true fats" (ester
Ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

s of glycerol
Glycerol
Glycerol is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids...

 with fatty acid
Fatty acid
In chemistry, especially biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with a long unbranched aliphatic tail , which is either saturated or unsaturated. Most naturally occurring fatty acids have a chain of an even number of carbon atoms, from 4 to 28. Fatty acids are usually derived from...

s), or intramuscular fat, which contains considerable quantities of phospholipid
Phospholipid
Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of all cell membranes as they can form lipid bilayers. Most phospholipids contain a diglyceride, a phosphate group, and a simple organic molecule such as choline; one exception to this rule is sphingomyelin, which is derived from...

s and of unsaponifiable
Saponification
Saponification is a process that produces soap, usually from fats and lye. In technical terms, saponification involves base hydrolysis of triglycerides, which are esters of fatty acids, to form the sodium salt of a carboxylate. In addition to soap, such traditional saponification processes...

 constituents such as cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

.

Red and white meat


Meat can be broadly classified as "red" or "white" depending on the concentration of myoglobin
Myoglobin
Myoglobin is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in the muscle tissue of vertebrates in general and in almost all mammals. It is related to hemoglobin, which is the iron- and oxygen-binding protein in blood, specifically in the red blood cells. The only time myoglobin is found in the...

 in muscle fibre. When myoglobin is exposed to oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

, reddish oxymyoglobin develops, making myoglobin-rich meat appear red. The redness of meat depends on species, animal age, and fibre type: Red meat
Red meat
Red meat in traditional culinary terminology is meat which is red when raw and not white when cooked. In the nutritional sciences, red meat includes all mammal meat. Red meat includes the meat of most adult mammals and some fowl ....

 contains more narrow muscle fibres that tend to operate over long periods without rest, while white meat
White meat
White meat or light meat refers to the lighter-colored meat of poultry as contrasted with dark meat. In a more general sense, white meat may also refer to any lighter-colored meat, as contrasted with red meats like beef and some types of game....

 contains more broad fibres that tend to work in short fast bursts.

The meat of adult mammals such as cows
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

, sheep, goats
Goat meat
Goat meat is the meat of the domestic goat . It is often called chevon or mutton when the meat comes from adults, and cabrito or kid when from young animals...

, and horses
Horse meat
Horse meat is the culinary name for meat cut from a horse. It is a major meat in only a few countries, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America to Asia. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses...

 is generally considered red, while domestic chicken
Chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

 and turkey
Turkey (bird)
A turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species...

 breast meat is generally considered white.

Meat nutritional information

Typical Meat Nutritional Content
from 110 grams (4 oz or .25 lb)
Source calorie
Calorie
The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. It was first defined by Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat, entering French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867. In most fields its use is archaic, having been replaced by the SI unit of energy, the joule...

s
protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

carbs fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

fish 110–140 20–25 g 0 g 1–5 g
chicken breast 160 28 g 0 g 7 g
lamb 250 30 g 0 g 14 g
steak (beef top round) 210 36 g 0 g 7 g
steak (beef T-bone) 450 25 g 0 g 35 g
Further information: Nutrition
Nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

, Foodborne illness
Foodborne illness
Foodborne illness is any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms.-Causes:Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or...

, Health concerns associated with red meat

All muscle
Muscle
Muscle is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to...

 tissue is very high in protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, containing all of the essential amino acid
Essential amino acid
An essential amino acid or indispensable amino acid is an amino acid that cannot be synthesized de novo by the organism , and therefore must be supplied in the diet.-Essentiality vs. conditional essentiality in humans:...

s, and in most cases is a good source of zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

, vitamin B12
Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, vitamin B12 or vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins...

, selenium
Selenium
Selenium is a chemical element with atomic number 34, chemical symbol Se, and an atomic mass of 78.96. It is a nonmetal, whose properties are intermediate between those of adjacent chalcogen elements sulfur and tellurium...

, phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

, niacin
Niacin
"Niacin" redirects here. For the neo-fusion band, see Niacin .Niacin is an organic compound with the formula and, depending on the definition used, one of the forty to eighty essential human nutrients.Niacin is one of five vitamins associated with a pandemic deficiency disease: niacin deficiency...

, vitamin B6
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B complex group. Several forms of the vitamin are known, but pyridoxal phosphate is the active form and is a cofactor in many reactions of amino acid metabolism, including transamination, deamination, and decarboxylation...

, choline
Choline
Choline is a water-soluble essential nutrient. It is usually grouped within the B-complex vitamins. Choline generally refers to the various quaternary ammonium salts containing the N,N,N-trimethylethanolammonium cation....

, riboflavin
Riboflavin
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2 or additive E101, is an easily absorbed micronutrient with a key role in maintaining health in humans and animals. It is the central component of the cofactors FAD and FMN, and is therefore required by all flavoproteins. As such, vitamin B2 is required for a...

 and iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

.
Several forms of meat are high in vitamin K
Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat soluble vitamins that are needed for the posttranslational modification of certain proteins required for blood coagulation and in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue. They are 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives...

2, which is only otherwise known to be found in fermented foods, with natto
Natto
is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis. It is popular especially as a breakfast food. As a rich source of protein and probiotics, nattō and the soybean paste miso formed a vital source of nutrition in feudal Japan. Nattō can be an acquired taste because...

 having the highest concentration. Muscle tissue is very low in carbohydrates and does not contain dietary fiber. The fat content of meat can vary widely depending on the species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 and breed
Breed
A breed is a group of domestic animals or plants with a homogeneous appearance, behavior, and other characteristics that distinguish it from other animals or plants of the same species. Despite the centrality of the idea of "breeds" to animal husbandry, there is no scientifically accepted...

 of animal, the way in which the animal was raised, including what it was fed, the anatomical
Anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

 part of the body, and the methods of butchering and cooking. Wild animals such as deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 are typically leaner than farm animals, leading those concerned about fat content to choose game
Game (food)
Game is any animal hunted for food or not normally domesticated. Game animals are also hunted for sport.The type and range of animals hunted for food varies in different parts of the world. This will be influenced by climate, animal diversity, local taste and locally accepted view about what can or...

 such as venison
Venison
Venison is the meat of a game animal, especially a deer but also other animals such as antelope, wild boar, etc.-Etymology:The word derives from the Latin vēnor...

. Decades of breeding meat animals for fatness is being reversed by consumer demand for meat with less fat.

Red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, contains many essential nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development in children. Nutrients in red meat include iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and protein. Most meats contain a full complement of the amino acids required for the human diet. Fruits and vegetables, by contrast, sometimes lack several essential amino acids contained in meat. It is for this reason that people who abstain from eating all meat need to plan their diet more carefully to include vegetarian sources of all the necessary amino acids. (See Section Issues of Meat for more details.)

The table in this section compares the nutritional content of several types of meat. While each kind of meat has about the same content of protein and carbohydrates, there is a very wide range of fat content. It is the additional fat that contributes most to the calorie content of meat, and to concerns about dietary health.

Production



Meat is produced by killing the animal in question and cutting the desired flesh out of it. These procedures are called slaughter
Animal slaughter
Slaughter is the term used to describe the killing and butchering of animals, usually for food. Commonly it refers to killing and butchering of domestic livestock ....

 and butchery, respectively.

Attesting to the long history of meat consumption in human civilizations, ritual slaughter
Ritual slaughter
Ritual slaughter is the practice of slaughtering livestock for meat in a ritual manner. Ritual slaughter involves a prescribed method of slaughtering an animal for food production purposes...

 has become part of the practice of several religions. These rituals, as well as other pre-industrial meat production methods such as these used by indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

, are not detailed here. This section will instead provide an overview of contemporary industrialized meat production in dedicated slaughterhouse
Slaughterhouse
A slaughterhouse or abattoir is a facility where animals are killed for consumption as food products.Approximately 45-50% of the animal can be turned into edible products...

s from cattle, sheep and pigs.

Transport


Upon reaching a predetermined age or weight, livestock are usually transported en masse to the slaughterhouse. Depending on its length and circumstances, this may exert stress and injuries on the animals, and some may die en route. Unnecessary stress in transport may adversely affect the quality of the meat. In particular, the muscles of stressed animals are low in water and glycogen
Glycogen
Glycogen is a molecule that serves as the secondary long-term energy storage in animal and fungal cells, with the primary energy stores being held in adipose tissue...

, and their pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 fails to attain acidic values, all of which results in poor meat quality. Consequently, and also due to campaigning by animal welfare
Animal welfare
Animal welfare is the physical and psychological well-being of animals.The term animal welfare can also mean human concern for animal welfare or a position in a debate on animal ethics and animal rights...

 groups, laws and industry practices in several countries tend to become more restrictive with respect to the duration and other circumstances of livestock transports.

Slaughter


Animals are usually slaughtered by being first stunned and then exsanguinated
Exsanguination
Exsanguination is the fatal process of hypovolemia , to a degree sufficient enough to cause death. One does not have to lose literally all of one's blood to cause death...

 (bled out). Death results from the one or the other procedure, depending on the methods employed. Stunning can be effected through asphyxia
Asphyxia
Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from being unable to breathe normally. An example of asphyxia is choking. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which primarily affects the tissues and organs...

ting the animals with carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

, shooting them with a gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

 or a captive bolt pistol
Captive bolt pistol
A captive bolt pistol is a device used for stunning animals prior to slaughter....

, or shocking them with electric current. In most forms of ritual slaughter
Ritual slaughter
Ritual slaughter is the practice of slaughtering livestock for meat in a ritual manner. Ritual slaughter involves a prescribed method of slaughtering an animal for food production purposes...

, stunning is not allowed.

Draining as much blood as possible from the carcase
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 is necessary because blood causes the meat to have an unappealing appearance and is a very good breeding ground for microorganisms. The exsanguination is accomplished by severing the carotid artery
Carotid artery
Carotid artery can refer to:* Common carotid artery* External carotid artery* Internal carotid artery...

 and the jugular vein
Jugular vein
The jugular veins are veins that bring deoxygenated blood from the head back to the heart via the superior vena cava.-Internal and external:There are two sets of jugular veins: external and internal....

 in cattle and sheep, and the anterior vena cava in pigs.

Dressing and cutting


After exsanguination, the carcase is dressed; that is, the head, feet, hide (except hogs and some veal), excess fat, viscera and offal
Offal
Offal , also called, especially in the United States, variety meats or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs other than...

 are removed, leaving only bones and edible muscle. Cattle and pig carcases, but not those
of sheep, are then split in half along the mid ventral axis, and the carcase is cut into wholesale pieces. The dressing and cutting sequence, long a province of manual labor, is progressively being fully automated.

Conditioning


Under hygienic conditions and without other treatment, meat can be stored at above its freezing point (–1.5 °C) for about six weeks without spoilage, during which time it undergoes an aging process that increases its tenderness and flavor.

During the first day after death, glycolysis
Glycolysis
Glycolysis is the metabolic pathway that converts glucose C6H12O6, into pyruvate, CH3COCOO− + H+...

 continues until the accumulation of lactic acid
Lactic acid
Lactic acid, also known as milk acid, is a chemical compound that plays a role in various biochemical processes and was first isolated in 1780 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Lactic acid is a carboxylic acid with the chemical formula C3H6O3...

 causes the pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 to reach about 5.5. The remaining glycogen
Glycogen
Glycogen is a molecule that serves as the secondary long-term energy storage in animal and fungal cells, with the primary energy stores being held in adipose tissue...

, about 18 g per kg, is believed to increase the water-holding capacity and tenderness of the flesh when cooked. Rigor mortis
Rigor mortis
Rigor mortis is one of the recognizable signs of death that is caused by a chemical change in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or manipulate...

sets in a few hours after death as ATP
Adenosine triphosphate
Adenosine-5'-triphosphate is a multifunctional nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism...

 is used up, causing actin
Actin
Actin is a globular, roughly 42-kDa moonlighting protein found in all eukaryotic cells where it may be present at concentrations of over 100 μM. It is also one of the most highly-conserved proteins, differing by no more than 20% in species as diverse as algae and humans...

 and myosin
Myosin
Myosins comprise a family of ATP-dependent motor proteins and are best known for their role in muscle contraction and their involvement in a wide range of other eukaryotic motility processes. They are responsible for actin-based motility. The term was originally used to describe a group of similar...

 to combine into rigid actomyosin and lowering the meat's water-holding capacity, causing it to lose water ("weep"). In muscles that enter rigor in a contracted position, actin and myosin filaments overlap and cross-bond, resulting in meat that is tough on cooking – hence again the need to prevent pre-slaughter stress in the animal.

Over time, the muscle proteins denature
Denaturation (biochemistry)
Denaturation is a process in which proteins or nucleic acids lose their tertiary structure and secondary structure by application of some external stress or compound, such as a strong acid or base, a concentrated inorganic salt, an organic solvent , or heat...

 in varying degree, with the exception of the collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

 and elastin
Elastin
Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched. Elastin is also an important load-bearing tissue in the bodies of...

 of connective tissue
Connective tissue
"Connective tissue" is a fibrous tissue. It is one of the four traditional classes of tissues . Connective Tissue is found throughout the body.In fact the whole framework of the skeleton and the different specialized connective tissues from the crown of the head to the toes determine the form of...

, and rigor mortis resolves. Because of these changes, the meat is tender and pliable when cooked just after death or after the resolution of rigor, but tough when cooked during rigor. As the muscle pigment myoglobin
Myoglobin
Myoglobin is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in the muscle tissue of vertebrates in general and in almost all mammals. It is related to hemoglobin, which is the iron- and oxygen-binding protein in blood, specifically in the red blood cells. The only time myoglobin is found in the...

 denatures, its iron oxidates, which may cause a brown discoloration near the surface of the meat. Ongoing proteolysis
Proteolysis
Proteolysis is the directed degradation of proteins by cellular enzymes called proteases or by intramolecular digestion.-Purposes:Proteolysis is used by the cell for several purposes...

 also contributes to conditioning. Hypoxanthine
Hypoxanthine
Hypoxanthine is a naturally occurring purine derivative. It is occasionally found as a constituent of nucleic acids where it is present in the anticodon of tRNA in the form of its nucleoside inosine. It has a tautomer known as 6-Hydroxypurine. Hypoxanthine is a necessary additive in certain cell,...

, a breakdown product of ATP, contributes to the meat's flavor and odor, as do other products of the discomposition of muscle fat and protein.

Spoilage and preservation



The spoilage of meat occurs, if untreated, in a matter of hours or days and results in the meat becoming unappetizing, poisonous or infectious. Spoilage is caused by the practically unavoidable infection and subsequent decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

 of meat by bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 and fungi, which are borne by the animal itself, by the people handling the meat, and by their implements. Meat can be kept edible for a much longer time – though not indefinitely – if proper hygiene
Hygiene
Hygiene refers to the set of practices perceived by a community to be associated with the preservation of health and healthy living. While in modern medical sciences there is a set of standards of hygiene recommended for different situations, what is considered hygienic or not can vary between...

 is observed during production and processing, and if appropriate food safety
Food safety
Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards....

, food preservation
Food preservation
Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage and thus allow for longer storage....

 and food storage
Food storage
Food storage is both a traditional domestic skill and is important industrially. Food is stored by almost every human society and by many animals...

 procedures are applied. Without the application of preservatives and stabilizers, the fats in meat may also begin to rapidly decompose after cooking or processing, leading to an objectionable taste known as warmed over flavor
Warmed over flavor
Warmed-over flavor is an unpleasant flavor which develops in cooked meat which is subsequently refrigerated prior to reheating. As cooking and subsequent refrigeration is the case with most convenience foods containing meat, it is a significant challenge to the processed food industry...

.

Methods of preparation



Fresh meat can be cooked for immediate consumption, or be processed, that is, treated for longer-term preservation
Food preservation
Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage and thus allow for longer storage....

 and later consumption, possibly after further preparation. A common additive to processed meats, both for preservation and because it prevents discoloring, is sodium nitrite
Sodium nitrite
Sodium nitrite is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaNO2. It is a white to slight yellowish crystalline powder that is very soluble in water and is hygroscopic...

, which, however, is also a source of health concerns, because it may form carcinogenic nitrosamine
Nitrosamine
Nitrosamines are chemical compounds of the chemical structure R1N-N=O, some of which are carcinogenic.-Usages:Nitrosamines are used in manufacture of some cosmetics, pesticides, and in most rubber products. -Occurrences:...

s when heated.

Meat is prepared in many ways, as steak
Steak
A steak is a cut of meat . Most are cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers, improving the perceived tenderness of the meat. In North America, steaks are typically served grilled, pan-fried, or broiled. The more tender cuts from the loin and rib are cooked quickly, using dry heat, and served whole...

s, in stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

s, fondue
Fondue
Fondue is a Swiss dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot over a spirit lamp , and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese...

, or as dried meat
Dried meat
Dried meat is a feature of many cuisines around the world. Examples include:* Bakkwa or rougan a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product made in the form of flat thin sheets* Biltong, a kind of cured meat that originated in South Africa...

 like beef jerky. It may be ground then formed into patties (as hamburgers or croquettes), loaves, or sausage
Sausage
A sausage is a food usually made from ground meat , mixed with salt, herbs, and other spices, although vegetarian sausages are available. The word sausage is derived from Old French saussiche, from the Latin word salsus, meaning salted.Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made...

s, or used in loose form (as in "sloppy joe" or Bolognese sauce
Bolognese sauce
Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. It is traditionally used to dress tagliatelle and is one of the two sauces used to prepare "lasagne alla Bolognese"...

). Some meat is cured, by smoking, pickling
Pickling
Pickling, also known as brining or corning is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid, or marinating and storing it in an acid solution, usually vinegar . The resulting food is called a pickle. This procedure gives the food a salty or sour taste...

, preserving in salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 or brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 (see salted meat and curing
Curing (food preservation)
Curing refers to various food preservation and flavoring processes, especially of meat or fish, by the addition of a combination of salt, nitrates, nitrite or sugar. Many curing processes also involve smoking, the process of flavoring, or cooking...

). Other kinds of meat are marinated and barbecue
Barbecue
Barbecue or barbeque , used chiefly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, poultry and occasionally fish with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of...

d, or simply boiled, roasted
Roasting
Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food, which is considered by some as a flavor enhancement. Roasting uses more indirect, diffused heat , and is...

, or fried
Frying
Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat, a technique that originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. Chemically, oils and fats are the same, differing only in melting point, but the distinction is only made when needed. In commerce, many fats are called oils by custom, e.g...

. Meat is generally eaten cooked, but there are many traditional recipes that call for raw beef, veal or fish (tartare
Tartare
Tartare is a preparation of finely chopped raw meat or fish optionally with seasonings and sauces.Examples include:* Steak tartare* Venison tartare* Salmon tartare* Tuna tartareCommonly a tartare is served as a spread for toast...

). Meat is often spiced or seasoned, as in most sausages. Meat dishes are usually described by their source (animal and part of body) and method of preparation.

Meat is a typical base for making sandwich
Sandwich
A sandwich is a food item, typically consisting of two or more slices of :bread with one or more fillings between them, or one slice of bread with a topping or toppings, commonly called an open sandwich. Sandwiches are a widely popular type of lunch food, typically taken to work or school, or...

es. Popular varieties of sandwich meat include ham
Ham
Ham is a cut of meat from the thigh of the hind leg of certain animals, especiallypigs. Nearly all hams sold today are fully cooked or cured.-Etymology:...

, pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

, salami
Salami
Salami is cured sausage, fermented and air-dried meat, originating from one of a variety of animals. Historically, salami has been popular among Southern European peasants because it can be stored at room temperature for periods of up to 10 years, supplementing a possibly meager or inconsistent...

 and other sausages, and beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

, such as steak
Steak
A steak is a cut of meat . Most are cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers, improving the perceived tenderness of the meat. In North America, steaks are typically served grilled, pan-fried, or broiled. The more tender cuts from the loin and rib are cooked quickly, using dry heat, and served whole...

, roast beef
Roast beef
Roast beef is a dish of beef which is roasted in an oven. Essentially prepared as a main meal, the leftovers can be and are often served within sandwiches and sometimes is used to make hash...

, corned beef
Corned beef
Corned beef is a type of salt-cured beef products present in many beef-eating cultures. The English term is used interchangeably in modernity to refer to three distinct types of cured beef:...

, pepperoni
Pepperoni
Pepperoni is a spicy Italian-American variety of salami usually made from cured pork and beef, but poultry may be added, if labeled correctly, for less expensive versions. Pepperoni is characteristically soft, slightly smoky, and bright red in color...

, and pastrami
Pastrami
Pastrami , is a popular delicatessen meat usually made from beef and, traditionally in Romania, also from pork and mutton. In Israel, "Pastrama" is the term used for sliced chicken and turkey. Like corned beef, pastrami was originally created as a way to preserve meat before modern refrigeration...

. Meat can also be molded or pressed (common for products that include offal
Offal
Offal , also called, especially in the United States, variety meats or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs other than...

, such as haggis
Haggis
Haggis is a dish containing sheep's 'pluck' , minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach.Haggis is a kind...

 and scrapple
Scrapple
Scrapple, also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus, is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then panfried before serving...

) and canned
Canning
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a typical shelf life ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances a freeze-dried canned product, such as canned, dried lentils, can last as...

.

Issues with meat consumption




Ethics



Ethical issues regarding the consumption of meat can include objections to the act of killing animals or the agricultural practices surrounding the production
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

 of meat. Reasons for objecting to the practice of killing animals for consumption may include animal rights
Animal rights
Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings...

, environmental ethics
Environmental ethics
Environmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world...

, religious doctrine, or an aversion to inflicting pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

 or harm on other sentient creatures
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

. The religion of Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 has always opposed eating meat, and there are also many schools of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 that condemn the eating of meat. Some people, while not vegetarians, refuse to eat the flesh of certain animals, such as cats, dogs, horses, or rabbits, due to cultural or religious taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

. In some cases, specific meats (especially from pigs and cows) are forbidden within religious traditions. Some people eat only the flesh of animals which they believe have not been mistreated, and abstain from the meat of animals reared in factory farms or from particular products such as foie gras
Foie gras
Foie gras ; French for "fat liver") is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through gavage corn, according to French law, though outside of France it is occasionally produced using natural feeding...

 and veal
Veal
Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

.

Health

See Articles: Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets , with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat...

 and Vegan

Consumption
Ingestion
Ingestion is the consumption of a substance by an organism. In animals, it normally is accomplished by taking in the substance through the mouth into the gastrointestinal tract, such as through eating or drinking...

 of large quantities of meat has certain adverse effects which can include: obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

, heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

, and constipation
Constipation
Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. Constipation is a common cause of painful defecation...

. In recent years, health concerns have been raised about the consumption of meat increasing the risk of cancer. In particular, red meat and processed meat were found to be associated with higher risk of cancers of the lung
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

, esophagus, liver, and colon, among others, although also a reduced risk for some minor type of cancers. Another study found an increase risk of pancreatic cancer for red meat and pork. That study also suggests that fat and saturated fat are not likely contributors to pancreatic cancer. Animal fat, particularly from ruminants, tends to have a higher percentage of saturated fat
Saturated fat
Saturated fat is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the individual carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain. That is, the chain of carbon atoms is fully "saturated" with hydrogen atoms...

 vs. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat when compared to vegetable fats, with the exception of some tropical plant fats; consumption of which has been correlated with various health problems. The saturated fat found in meat has been associated with significantly raised risks of colon cancer, although evidence suggests that risks of prostate cancer are unrelated to animal fat consumption. USDA claims (see Dietary Guidelines for Americans) that consumption of meat as a source of protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 in the human diet is crucial, have been resoundingly contradicted by recent studies.

The correlation of meat consumption to increased risk of heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

 is controversial. Some studies fail to find a link between red meat consumption and heart disease (although the same study found statistically significant correlation between the consumption of processed meat and cancer), while another study, a survey, conducted in 1960, of 25,153 California Seventh-Day Adventists, found that the risk of heart disease is three times greater for 45-64 year old men who eat meat daily, versus those who did not eat meat. in 2010 involving over one million people who ate meat found that only processed meat had an adverse risk in relation to coronary heart disease. The study suggests that eating 50g (less than 2oz) of processed meat per day increases risk of coronary heart disease by 42%, and diabetes by 19%. Equivalent levels of fat, including saturated fats, in unprocessed meat (even when eating twice as much per day) did not show any deleterious effects, leading the researchers to suggest that "differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats."

A 2009 study by the National Cancer Institute
National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health , which is one of 11 agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCI coordinates the U.S...

 revealed a correlation between the consumption of red meat and increased mortality from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This study has been criticized for using an improperly validated food frequency questionnaire, which has been shown to have low levels of accuracy.

In response to changing prices as well as health concerns about saturated fat and cholesterol, consumers have altered their consumption of various meats. A USDA report points out that consumption of beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 between 1970–1974 and 1990–1994 dropped by 21%, while consumption of chicken
Chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

 increased by 90%. During the same period of time, the price of chicken dropped by 14% relative to the price of beef. In 1995 and 1996, beef consumption increased due to higher supplies and lower prices.

A recent study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute
Translational Genomics Research Institute
The Translational Genomics Research Institute , is a non-profit genomics research institute established in 2002 by Jeffrey Trent, the founding Scientific Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute , in Phoenix, Arizona, United States.TGen seeks to employ genetic discoveries to improve...

 showed that nearly half (47%) percent of the meat and poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

 in U.S. grocery stores were contaminated with S. aureus
Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus is a facultative anaerobic Gram-positive coccal bacterium. It is frequently found as part of the normal skin flora on the skin and nasal passages. It is estimated that 20% of the human population are long-term carriers of S. aureus. S. aureus is the most common species of...

, with more than half (52%) of those bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Cooking


Meat can transmit certain disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s, but complete cooking and avoiding recontamination reduces this possibility.

Several studies published since 1990 indicate that cooking muscle meat creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are thought to increase cancer risk in humans. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute published results of a study which found that human subjects who ate beef rare or medium-rare had less than one third the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate beef medium-well or well-done. While eating muscle meat raw may be the only way to avoid HCAs fully, the National Cancer Institute
National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health , which is one of 11 agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCI coordinates the U.S...

 states that cooking meat below 212 °F (100 °C) creates "negligible amounts" of HCAs. Also, microwaving meat before cooking may reduce HCAs by 90%.

Nitrosamine
Nitrosamine
Nitrosamines are chemical compounds of the chemical structure R1N-N=O, some of which are carcinogenic.-Usages:Nitrosamines are used in manufacture of some cosmetics, pesticides, and in most rubber products. -Occurrences:...

s, present in processed and cooked foods, have been noted as being carcinogenic, being linked to colon cancer. Also, toxic compounds called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons , also known as poly-aromatic hydrocarbons or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, are potent atmospheric pollutants that consist of fused aromatic rings and do not contain heteroatoms or carry substituents. Naphthalene is the simplest example of a PAH...

s, present in processed, smoked and cooked foods, are known to be carcinogenic.

In vitro and imitation

Main articles: Imitation meat, In vitro meat
In vitro meat
In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a complete, living animal.This form of meat has been described, sometimes derisively, as "laboratory-grown" meat. In vitro meat should not be confused with imitation meat, which is a vegetarian food...



Various forms of imitation meat have been created for people wishing to reduce or eliminate meat consumption for health, environmental, or ethical considerations, but who still wish to taste the flavor and texture of meat. They are typically some form of processed soybean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

, (tofu
Tofu
is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and others. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu...

, tempeh
Tempeh
Tempeh , or tempe , is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty...

), but they can also be based on wheat gluten
Wheat gluten (food)
Wheat gluten, also called seitan , wheat meat, mock duck, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from the gluten of wheat...

 or even fungus (quorn
Quorn
Quorn is the leading brand of mycoprotein food product in the UK and Ireland. The mycoprotein used to produce Quorn is extracted from a fungus, Fusarium venenatum, which is grown in large vats....

).

In vitro meat
In vitro meat
In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a complete, living animal.This form of meat has been described, sometimes derisively, as "laboratory-grown" meat. In vitro meat should not be confused with imitation meat, which is a vegetarian food...

, also known as cultured meat, is animal flesh that has never been part of a complete, living animal. Several research projects are currently experimentally growing in vitro meat, but no meat has yet been produced for public consumption. The goal is to grow fully developed muscle organs, but the first generation will most likely be minced meat products.

Environmental impact


The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO figure accounts for the entire meat production cycle - clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in agricultural machinery
Agricultural machinery
Agricultural machinery is machinery used in the operation of an agricultural area or farm.-Hand tools:The first person to turn from the hunting and gathering lifestyle to farming probably did so by using his bare hands, and perhaps some sticks or stones. Tools such as knives, scythes, and wooden...

, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep. In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of grain fed meat, milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 and egg
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

 production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1, in the opinion of Roger Segelken.
The largest meat consumers (2003)
 Rank  Country Consumption per capita (in kg)
1 United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 
123
2 Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 
121
3 Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 
118
4 Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 
112
5 Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 
111
6 New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 
109
7 Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 
108
8 Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 
102
9 Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 
98
10 France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 
98

See also


  • Beef hormone controversy
    Beef hormone controversy
    The Beef Hormone Dispute is one of the two most intractable transatlantic agricultural disputes since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, the other being the Banana War....

  • Bushmeat
    Bushmeat
    Bushmeat initially referred to the hunting of wild animals in West and Central Africa and is a calque from the French viande de brousse. Today the term is commonly used for meat of terrestrial wild animals, killed for subsistence or commercial purposes throughout the humid tropics of the Americas,...

  • Culinary name
    Culinary name
    Culinary names, menu names, or kitchen names are names of foods used in the preparation or selling of food, as opposed to their names in agriculture or in scientific nomenclature. The menu name may even be different from the kitchen name...

  • Food production
    Food industry
    The food production is a complex, global collective of diverse businesses that together supply much of the food energy consumed by the world population...

  • Food science
    Food science
    Food science is a study concerned with all technical aspects of foods, beginning with harvesting or slaughtering, and ending with its cooking and consumption, an ideology commonly referred to as "from field to fork"...

  • Gristle
    Cartilage
    Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

  • List of meat animals
  • Livestock
    Livestock
    Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

    /Domestication
    Domestication
    Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

  • Meat-free day
    Meat-free day
    Meat-free days are a campaign to reduce anthropogenic climate change and improve human health and animal welfare by reducing factory farming.It has been endorsed by the city councils of Ghent, Belgium; Hasselt, Belgium; Mechelen, Belgium; São Paulo, Brazil; Bremen, Germany; and Cape Town, South...

  • Meat on the bone
    Meat on the bone
    Meat on the bone, also called bone-in meat is meat that is sold with some or all of the bones included in the cut or portion, i.e. meat that has not been filleted. The phrase "on the bone" can also be applied to specific types of meat, most commonly ham on the bone, and to fish...

  • Mechanically separated meat
    Mechanically separated meat
    Mechanically separated meat , a product also known as mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat or mechanically deboned meat , is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef, pork, turkey or chicken, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat...

  • Red meat
    Red meat
    Red meat in traditional culinary terminology is meat which is red when raw and not white when cooked. In the nutritional sciences, red meat includes all mammal meat. Red meat includes the meat of most adult mammals and some fowl ....

  • Roadkill cuisine
    Roadkill cuisine
    Roadkill cuisine is preparing and eating roadkill, animals hit by vehicles and found along roads.It is a practice engaged in by a small subculture in the United States, Southern Canada, the United Kingdom and other Western countries as well as in other parts of the world...

  • Sinew
  • Veganism
    Veganism
    Veganism is the practice of eliminating the use of animal products. Ethical vegans reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose, while dietary vegans or strict vegetarians eliminate them from their diet only...



External links