Have you ever asked yourself if eating meat is healthy or what is the story behind that habit, who invented it or why we do that at all. Well, the answer is obvious and you are not only one. Majority of people do that because this is the way things are, we are taught to do that. Parents and relatives always used to cook for us different meals with meat in the childhood(when they could afford to do that) and everyone around us was eating meat like it’s something natural. This is not a secret that in the past, people rarely used to buy things in the stores(let’s say 100 years ago). Usually everything was homemade (including meat, especially in the villages). Probably because of that we think it’s healthy. But is it? The researches show it is not that healthy as we’d thought. Besides nowadays situation is very distinct from the past. People move to the cities and do not want even to touch anything connected to the food production. We buy almost everything in the stores and nearly never check who or where produces it. But it’s worth it. It’s important to know everything about the food we eat and how it affects us and the environment.
In this article I tried to summarize the most important reasons why we shouldn’t eat meat.
1. Meat production contributes to the climate change
First of all let’s put it in perspective and bring down the numbers. The fossil fuels combustion is the main contributor to global warming and responsible for 64% of the carbon emissions, next we have the agricultural production with about 13%, other causes with 12% and about 11% belongs to LULUCF(or deforestation in short) (source: World Resources Institute). The number we are interested in is for the agricultural production and it is the second place. Cultivation of plants, animal husbandry, production of electricity and usage of natural resources in agriculture all of it contributes to global warming. Unfortunately, the majority of these emissions (from 13%) is related to meat production. How are they contributing? Very easy. First point is the production of food for animals, second is the construction of the farms(sometimes we build it destroying the forest), third is the farm maintenance. All these processes waste electricity, water and other resources whose production, in most cases, emits carbon dioxide or stops its reducing(eg through deforestation).
Important note: The scientists estimate that widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63% and vegan diet by 70% by 2050(source: Oxford Martin School).
2. Production of meat wastes natural resources
Yes, as I mentioned before we need to waste a lot of resources to get some meat on our plate. What exactly?
- Land. We waste it on plants’ cultivation (food for animals), farms and other places associated with meat production.
- Energy. Energy is needed at all stages of food production for animals and animal husbandry.
- Water. We need water for cultivation of plants and needs of animals.
3. Health concerns
As research shows, eating meat is linked to many different health concerns.
- Heart disease (source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information).
- Stroke (source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information).
- Diabetes (source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information).
- Cancer (source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information)
- Other (source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information).
4. Quality of meat
It is well known fact that during meat production antibiotics and hormones(especially in US) are often used. Is it bad? Yes, it is. Some antibiotics given to animals can be passed to humans and can affect us to some extent(source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information). On the other hand the hormones are banned in EU but not in entire world and might be very dangerous (source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information).
5. Moral question
Totally different side of that problem is the animal cruelty. All living creatures deserve to live and people shouldn’t forget about it. We can’t be the force that destroys everything.
One interesting thought: I think everyone knows that we share about 60% of our DNA with chickens (source: Science Daily), about 80% of DNA with cows (source: Wikipedia) and about 95% with chimps (source: Caltech). Obviously we would never eat chimps but what about cows? Where would be the line for us? It’s needed to be rethought.
Undoubtedly meat production has a negative impact on the environment, meat consumption is associated with many negative consequences for health and it forces us, people, to face a difficult moral question. Eat or not to this is everyone’s personal decision and it’s up to us to decide if it’s worth it.