“Those who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone.”
– Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (1990)
This weekend I have decided to go to a vegetarian diet. One of my oldest friends was in town this weekend and we decided to cook in dinner at my house and chicken parmesan was the choice entree. While I was eating, the meat was chewy, fatty, bloody and became overall repulsive, and something about that piece of chicken finally made me decide to say goodbye to meat. I had been debating this for quite some time, and I’m not even sure what had been stopping me before, but something about that chicken dinner I had on Friday just did me in.
Eating meat is one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. There are many startling statistics and concrete reasons behind my decision. I will admit that I’m not a huge animal person by any means, but I am a person of compassion. While the treatment of animals, their living conditions, what they are fed, how they are killed, etc., all played a role in my choice, it wasn’t the driving factor. What raising all these animals, the land they graze, land deforested to grow feed for these animals, the CO2 emissions created from the meat business, the huge impact all these things have on our environment – this was my ultimate deal breaker.
Environmental Factors To Consider:
- Meat is often contaminated with feces, blood, and other bodily fluids, all of which make animal products the top source of food poisoning in the United States.
- In the United States alone, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture. With an ever-growing population, we can only expect to see more deforestation in the future.
- Eating meat causes almost 40% more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined.
- 70% of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder.
- Millions of gallons of liquefied feces and urine seeped into the environment from collapsed, leaking or overflowing storage lagoons, and flowed into rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Hundreds of manure spills have killed millions of fish.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
– Albert Einstein
Over the past 6 months, I have been learning more about the living conditions of animals that provide our eating meat, and I think in the back of my mind I knew all along that plant-based foods was the natural course I would eventually take. Nursing my daughter this past year, I gave up pretty much everything dairy and it was actually much easier than I expected. I haven’t reached the full-blown vegan level quite yet and I’m not sure if I’ll even reach that point completely (I have had vegan icecream and cheese and it’s just not quite the same!). Reducing or eliminating every bit that I can makes a difference. If I choose to continue consuming animal products, I am aware of what to look for to try and keep my decisions as eco-conscious as possible!
Photo Credit: Vegetarian Meals