Top 5 Reasons I’m Going with Veggies
As of January 1, 2008, I am changing my diet rather dramatically to remove all meat content. I’ve actually been considering this move since a 2006 college ethics class where I was exposed to the mistreatment of animals and the negative effect that eating meat takes on our environment and social structure as a whole.
I’m not here to try and push my beliefs onto anyone else. I have no problem with people who eat meat, hunt, whatever. However, I wanted to post something here so that those who care can view what went into the decision and walk away with a (hopefully) greater understanding of the topic.
So, without further ado, here are the top 5 reasons I’m switching to vegetarian:
- Eating Meat Has Potentially Serious Ethical Issues
Ok, I think we all know that. Everyone at one time or another has been faced with the PETA advertisements. From my perspective, I learned in depth the kind of mistreatment animals experience during an ethics class I took in 2006. I did a really good job of feeling horrible about the suffering that takes place, but then ignoring the issue because I didn’t think I could give up meat.
That sort of “sweeping under the mental rug”, however, takes its toll on your conscience after a while. I know that I couldn’t kill an animal in the brutal way that factory farming has a tendency to do (in fact, I don’t think I could kill an animal on purpose at all), so why would I be ok to let someone else do the work for me?
“But don’t animals kill each other in the wild?”
I’ve actually used this argument myself in the past, but the more I think about it the more I reject it. For better or for worse, human beings have moved (Evolved? Been created? Both? Another great topic that I’d love to discuss … but not now) from being amoral creatures like my dog to moral creatures who empathize with the suffering of other beings. A wild animal cannot be expected to do anything based on morality because its first instinct is to survive regardless of the cost.
We, however, believe that life is bigger than just existence and survival and have the capability, if we let ourselves, to really feel. While we may choose to ignore this, the fact that it exists at all makes me believe that we now have a moral responsibility to act in a way that recognizes this fact. Other animals don’t. That’s where they are, this is where we are.
- Eating Meat is Bad for the Environment
I won’t go into a ton of details here, but here are some interesting facts (please contact me if you’d like specific sources):
More than half of all water used for all purposes in the US is consumed in livestock production. More than half! While 25 gallons of water are required to produce a pound of wheat, 5,000 pounds are required to produce a pound of California beef. (source: http://www.animalsuffering.com/vegetarianism.html.
About one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the livestock animal industry.
Fossil fuel is not immune. It takes almost 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of beef protein verses only 2 to produce one calorie of soybean. If the rest of the world ate meat like we do here in the US, we’d deplete our known oil reserves in only 13 years.
Many countries, including our own, are bulldozing ridiculous plots of land in order to raise livestock. Since livestock takes a much larger area of land to raise than vegetables, forrest land that used to supply valuable oxygen to our atmosphere is destroyed.
- Eating Meat Devalues Life
I think we can all agree that we already have a huge problem with value in our country today. For better or for worse, and probably thanks to excessive greed, we have commoditized things that used to hold a lot of value. Music. Art. Medicine. Now we’ve applied that mindset to life as a whole.
Raising animals in ethical ways costs more and restricts the amount of meat supply that can be injected into our restaurants and supermarkets. The cheaper an animal can be raised and the faster it can be converted to eatable product the more money the farm can make. We’ve seen the damage this does to the things we all used to cherish, but now it’s happening with life. This, in my opinion, is bad.
- Eating Meat Hurts Those in Need
Because so many resources are used to raise livestock, those in developing countries and the poor among us suffer. Resources that could be used to help are used, instead, to feed and raise animals for food.
Even worse, those in developing nations are encouraged to use their land for livestock instead of grain and other subsistence crops. As such, small farmers are bought or forced out of their land and their relatively efficient crop is replaced with less efficient livestock in order to sell to more developed nations (like ours) at a profit. This hurts the poor who can’t afford to buy meat.
Bringing the issue a little closer to home, while meat is relatively inexpensive at the supermarket, it costs a lot when tax subsidies are taken into account. A pound of beef, for example, costs an upwards of $30 when “behind the scene” taxes are added to the mix.
- Finally, Eating Meat is Poor Stewardship
We only have so much to work with, and we have a lot of people and other animals in the world that need to survive as well. Raising livestock is far more inefficient and damaging to our world than growing vegetables. We don’t need to eat meat. Millions (maybe even billions) of human beings around the world survive just fine with little to no meat intake.
I don’t claim to have all the answers on this (or any other, for that matter) issue, and I’d love to hear your comments on it! At the very least, I hope this opened up a dialogue in understanding a bit more outside of our little sphere of existence.