A tale as old as time, or so it seems, is the battle between meat-eaters and vegetarians. Whichever camp you find yourself in or closest to, maybe it is time for a little compassion for the other side. Rocky loves his meat, and Rosa loves her greens. That doesn’t mean they are on opposite ends of a broken bridge. The most important aspect of sustainable eating is finding the sustainable diet for you and understanding what works for you might not work for your friend or neighbor. Adjusting your diet to better impact the environment doesn’t have to be all or nothing regarding meat and meat by-products.
Meat Industry’s Impact
There are proven reasons why reducing your meat consumption and down-sizing the ever-growing meat industry would be beneficial, not just for the climate but also for people and animals alike. There are four major categories in which scientists can see the massive meat industry’s negative impact. We’ll briefly explore them here to give an overview of why reducing meat consumption is another way to curb our carbon footprint and improve global health.
- The increasing demand for meat and meat by-products puts a strain on the global food system. While high-income countries demand a plentiful and abundant supply of meat products, low-income countries bear the brunt of creating the food for the animals raised for consumption. In addition to this disparity between countries, increased demand for fish and seafood has begun to lead to the collapse of global fish populations that lower-income countries rely on.
- The environment is immensely affected by livestock farming and seafood production. Livestock is responsible for “18% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions – more than that of all of the world’s non-livestock-related transportation, including all cars, planes, and ships,” according to WhyEatLessMeat.com. These massive amounts of emissions are further fueled by the increased deforestation needed to make room for these animals. The waste created by livestock also poses a threat to the water supply for nearby animals and humans alike. These animals are also a significant drain on water resources.
- The health of the human population is damaged by an overabundance of meat production and consumption. Raising mass amounts of animals for edible consumption increases the opportunity for new diseases to emerge and spread throughout vast populations quickly due to overcrowding and poor living conditions of the animals. Also, diets that rely heavily on animal products increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease, strokes, and even cancer.
- The life of animals raised purely for human consumption is often one of pain, disease, and inhumane practices. Overcrowding, over-breeding, and cruelty is a fair snapshot of what a livestock farm for a high-meat-consuming country like the USA is like.
What Can We Do?
Maybe going entirely vegetarian sounds like an impossible feat, and honestly, it might be for many people. What can be done is mindfully eating less meat throughout the day or even incorporating a few days out of the week to go, “meat-less.” Even these small steps will reduce the overall demand for meat.
Another mindful way to combat the meat problem is to source certified cruelty-free meat. Ensuring that the meat, dairy, and eggs you consume come from farms committed to sustainably and humanely raising their animals.
If you’d like to learn more about all of these aspects of the effects of the meat industry on our planet, visit WhyEatLessMeat.com, a reputable source that gives full and cited information on the issues of meat-centric diets for high-income countries.