Growing up I always thought the idea of being a vegetarian was kind of crazy. It was rare to have a dinner that didn’t have some meat in it, and in school we learned ad nauseam about the ‘four essential food groups’ with meat of course being one of them.
I never thought twice about it until about a year ago, when the wonderful world of Netflix was introduced to me. On a chilly Sunday I decided I wanted to be lazy and sit and watch movies all day, but to curb the guilt of laziness, I decided I’d at least watch something with some amount of learning value. So I opened up the ‘Documentaries’ section and ended up watching three movies about our food lifestyle and the problems with what we eat. (I believe the movies were Vegucated, Food Inc., and Food Matters.) These movies were all very well done and opened my eyes to the problems and inefficiencies of our food system and what we put in our bodies.
After learning more about the vegetarian and even vegan diet, I have decided I would like to avoid eating meat for now, and reduce meat consumption in the long term. Now, all vegetarians have their own personal reasons why they choose to avoid meat products- some have an intolerance to it, some disagree with the meat industry and some plain don’t like the taste. So I put together a list of what being vegetarian means to me, and why I think it’s a lifestyle I want to adopt:
1. Environmental Effects
Fossil Fuels conservation. I read that it takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein but just 1 calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. Eating plant foods instead of animal foods helps conserve energy and reduce emissions.
Saving forests. Rainforests and other lands are destroyed daily, in part, to create more acreage to raise livestock for human consumption. Roughly 20% of global warming emissions are a result of this massive deforestation, (the equivalent of central park is cut down every 9 minutes!) and these forests filter our air and contain sources of medicine. Not supporting the meat industry directly reduces the demand to cut down trees.
Global warming emissions. The methane released from “cow-farts” and things like manure holding tanks is a very significant concern, as methane is around a 20 times stronger greenhouse gas compared to CO2.
2. Health Effects
There is no nutrient necessary for optimal human functioning which cannot be obtained from plant food. That being said, being a vegetarian means being smarter with what you eat. For instance, not eating meat can lead to iron, calcium and omega 3 deficiencies. But beans contain high amounts of iron, almond milk has lots of calcium and flax seed has high amounts of Omega 3. (check out this website for a full list). And as for protein, look no further than beans, nuts, seeds, grains, soy, and even greens. Easy!
Being higher on the food chain, animal foods contain far higher concentrations of agricultural chemicals than plant foods, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.
There are over 20,000 different drugs, including sterols, antibiotics, growth hormones and other veterinary drugs that are given to livestock animals. You then consume these toxins in your hamburger.
3. Lifestyle and Well Being
Even in the first few weeks of less meat, I feel more energetic, my mind feels clearer and I’m finding that I have better sense of general ‘well being.’ We live in a modern society with primitive bodies. We were never supposed to eat as much meat as we do!
Cheaper. Vegetarian foods tend to cost less than meat based products per calorie.
It’s easy! Today we have more access to the best super-foods on the planet than the human race has ever had. I can go to the store on a cold winter day and buy quinoa, pomegranate juice, organic spinach and hemp hearts. Plus the internet has more veggie recipes than you can shake a carrot at.
I cannot make a statement against factory farming if I eat animals. By avoiding meat and purchasing more vegetables, I am casting my “economic vote” that I don’t support industrial livestock operations.
4. I mean SERIOUSLY. Look’it how cute they are!! ->