This is a post I've been meaning to make for a while now. I have been a vegetarian for the past couple of years and often get asked why. Yes, animal rights are important to me and the way they are treated in factory farming and slaughterhouses is beyond horrific, however, my main reason goes beyond that.
By now, most of you probably know we are in an environmental crisis. In fact, we only have 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage. That is terrifying. I genuinely don't think people fully comprehend how serious this issue is.
And that, my friends, is why I am a vegetarian. For environmental reasons. How do the two link? Well, in more ways than you can imagine.
Adelaide University's Professor of Climate Change, Barry Brook, estimates that raising animals for human consumption is responsible for half of Australia's short-term global warming gases — that's more than the coal industry.
But it goes beyond Australia, this applies globally.
"Research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% — an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined — and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife." - Damien Carrington, Environment editor, The Guardian UK.
Regularly consuming meat not only affects the animals you're eating, it actually hurts other animals as well. Mass extinction has never been as prominent as it is now. As humans, we have a responsibility to stop this! Our ecosystem is delicate and we can not just sit back as species continue to die off.
According to Joseph Poore at the University of Oxford, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,”. He continues on to explain that “it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.
I'm not saying you need to be perfect or switch to veganism right now. I'm only an 'at home' vegan because I definitely understand the struggle of trying to cut out animal bi-products all the time. However, reducing your meat intake is a huge step in the right direction! Try to cut eating meat down to a couple of times a week instead of every day, it will make a big difference.
Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the book Eating Animals and a researcher on human and environmental impacts of meat and dairy consumption stated that “if all Americans removed one serving of meat from their diets in a week it would be the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road”. This applies to just Americans, so imagine the impact if people were to do this globally.
"But I need meat to survive. I need the protein".
Actually, that isn't true at all! According to the Mayo Clinic, "vegetarians generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less and have a lower risk of heart disease than non-vegetarians do. Even reducing meat intake has a protective effect." The website continues to elaborate on this point explaining that "research shows that people who eat red meat are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Processed meats also increase the risk of death from these diseases.
If you do decide to switch to a low meat, vegan, or vegetarian diet, great! But make sure you are conscious of what foods to eat to make sure you’re getting all your necessary proteins and vitamins because what you don't eat can also harm your health. “Diets low in nuts, seeds, seafood, fruits, and vegetables also increase the risk of death." Whether you’re on a special diet or not, it is always important to make sure you are eating the right foods that give your body all the nutrients that it needs.
Without eating meat, it really isn't difficult to get your daily protein! In fact, I am getting way more protein now than I ever was before I was a vegetarian. I drink the most delicious protein shakes once to twice a day. These shakes contain so many macro and micronutrients that can't be found in whole foods anymore because of the lack of nutrients in our soil. They come in whey protein (derived from the "happy cows" in New Zealand, all raised grass-fed and antibiotic-free) as well as vegan protein.
If your genuine love of meat is the problem, there are many MANY amazing substitutes. There are so many vegan "meats" out there taste pretty bang on. Most people love the seasonings and sauces that make meat taste good, not the taste of unseasoned, bland meat itself. It’s all about how you flavor your food, and you would be surprised how tasty seasoning vegetarian meat substitutes can be.
We only have one planet and the environmental crisis is REAL. I am currently living in Australia and the bush fires are out of control and it's terrifying. Mother Nature is pretty furious with us right now, reasonably so.
Take a step in the right direction, make a change. It is okay to start small. We don't need everyone to be perfect, we need more people trying to make a change imperfectly.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope I've inspired you!
Have a great day,