When you buy meat at the grocery store, you probably don’t think about where it came from. You don’t consider how the meat was obtained, processed, and brought to you. It might not even cross your mind that what you’re eating was once living flesh, come from an animal that has been killed, often inhumanely, just so it can be processed and put on your dinner table. You might think that humans are made to be omnivorous, but this was not always the case. Our relatives, the monkeys and apes, are not meat eaters, so why should we be? Vegetarianism might not be an idea that many people consider, but you would be amazed by how big of a difference you could make in the well-being of our planet just by eliminating meat from your diet. A vegetarian lifestyle also saves many of our precious resources and is a much healthier alternative while staying just as delicious as a carnivorous lifestyle.
Just because you aren’t physically killing an animal by buying processed meat at the store, this does not mean you aren’t partly responsible for the death of the animal whose body you are now consuming. According to animalequality, “Over 56 billion animals are killed each year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures, whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.” It’s scary to think how many animals we are killing for our eating pleasures when there are options just as realistic and healthy that would not result in the slaughtering of the billions of animals we share the planet with. Even more mortifying are the ways many animals being raised for meat are treated even before their inhumane deaths! “On today’s factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates, and other torturous devices. Most won’t even feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they’re loaded onto trucks headed for slaughterhouses (“Factory Farming: Misery for Animals”). When you are not exposed to the horrific treatment most animals bred for meat suffer everyday, you won’t think about what you’re eating and the numerous animals that have suffered just to bring this food to your dinner plate. However, taking only into account lives saved by not eating meat, a vegetarian saves an average of 100 animal lives per year (countinganimals). Imagine how many you would save if you were to choose this lifestyle for your whole life! Not only does vegetarianism save animal lives by the thousands, choosing not to eat meat also decreases the amounts of greenhouse gases in the air, which are the culprit of global warming. According to peta, “Producing a little more than two pounds of beef causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than driving a car for three hours and uses up more energy than leaving your house lights on for the same period of time.” Choosing to be a vegetarian not only reduces the number of animals killed for meat significantly, it also helps decrease global warming and protects land.
You probably could never imagine how many resources are wasted on the animals that will soon be slaughtered. Keeping animals for meat demands tremendous amounts of land, water, and food. “According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them. Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed them—that’s almost half the total landmass of the lower 48 states” (peta). While these animals would still exist in the wild even if they weren’t being bred for meat, they would not live on bulldozed land. If we keep destroying our land in this way, other species will find it harder and harder just to keep their habitats from being taken away from them, and there will be less land available for human use. Commercial farming also wastes appalling amounts of water. “Vegetarian author John Robbins calculates it takes 60, 108, 168, and 229 pounds of water to produce one pound of potatoes, wheat, maize and rice respectively. But a pound of beef needs around 9,000 litres – or more than 20,000lbs of water” (“10 Ways Vegetarianism Can Help Save the Planet”). Water is already a precious resource that we need to work hard to conserve, but we are wasting a great deal of it on something that is not necessary for our survival. In fact, “Farming, which uses 70% of water available to humans, is already in direct competition for water with cities. But as demand for meat increases, so there will be less available for both crops and drinking” (10 Ways Vegetarianism can Help Save the Planet”). When we look at this statistic, it is mortifying to think of how much we are using of this precious resource and how quickly it will run out if we don’t make a change. Finally, raising animals for meat demands a large amount of food. This results in crops being farmed to feed the animals that will soon be killed and consumed by humans, therefore wasting more water and land. If we ate the crops that we were raising for the animals to eat, far less resources would be wasted. Becoming a vegetarian reduces your handprint in many other ways, besides just the animal lives you save.
Not only could a new vegetarian diet help the world around you, it could help you! This lifestyle puts you at less risk from getting kidney stones, eye cataracts, cardiovascular disease, obesity (a omnivore is three times as likely to be obese than a vegetarian), and strokes, as well as satisfying all nutritional needs, giving you lower cholesterol levels, and possibly improving your mood and Psoriasis symptoms (Edward). In fact, “There’s no health benefit, at all, to eating animal fat. It should come as no surprise that when you remove it from your diet, you will also remove the detrimental effects it has on your health life” (Edward). There is no research to show that eating meat benefits us, besides providing an adequate amount of protein, something easily obtained. Moreover, many studies have shown that meat can, in fact, have negative health effects on your body. “A vast array of studies from top universities and independent researchers has found that eating chickens, cows, and other animals promotes cancer in many forms. Large studies in England and Germany showed that vegetarians were about 40 percent less likely to develop cancer compared to meat-eaters, the most common forms being breast, prostate, and colon cancers” (Krantz). By eating meat, you are not only putting yourself at much higher risk to get cancer, you have a higher likelihood of developing foodborne illness and may make you more resistant to antibiotics. These many health risks, with numerous more, combine to give omnivores a significantly higher risk of early death (Krantz). According to Rachel Krantz, statistics show that “Vegetarian men live to an average of 83.3 years, compared with non-vegetarian men, who live to an average of 73.8 years. Vegetarian women live to an average of 85.7 years, which is 6.1 years longer than non-vegetarian women, according to the Adventist Health Study-2.” With so much evidence of how meat might actually be harming your body, why keep consuming it?
As more and more people turn to the new lifestyle of vegetarianism, so can you. Choosing this new lifestyle will benefit the environment substantially and cut way down on resources used in commercial animal production.. Becoming a vegetarian also decreases many health risks, including that of premature death. Your body and the environment will thank you.