The heart and blood vessels comprise the two elements of the cardiovascular system that work together in providing nourishment and oxygen to the organs of the body. The activity of these two elements is also coordinated in the body's response to stress. Acute stress — stress that is momentary or short-term such as meeting deadlines, being stuck in traffic or suddenly slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident — causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle, with the stress hormones — adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol — acting as messengers for these effects. In addition, the blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and the heart dilate, thereby increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body and elevating blood pressure. This is also known as the fight or flight response. Once the acute stress episode has passed, the body returns to its normal state.
Above all else, the study underscores that while meat production will need to change in the future, so will meat consumption. It’s difficult to get a full and proper accounting of the total environmental impact of livestock production. A 2006 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that livestock were responsible for about 18% of human-caused greenhouse gases — a figure that has been criticized by the meat industry as too high and by some environmentalists as far too low . But what’s clear is that American levels of meat consumption can’t be sustainably adopted by the rest of the world, even if livestock management becomes more efficient globally. “Demand management has to be part of the solution as well,” says Herrero. For the environment — and for our hearts and waistlines too.