We started this blog to promote good food, but I’ll admit that I have an ulterior motive here: I’d like to see more people commit to eating vegetarian. I’m hoping that by showcasing how delicious vegetarian food can be, you’ll become convinced that giving up meat isn’t some daunting task that will leave you eating bland, boring food for the rest of your life. But if you need more solid reasons for going vegetarian, consider the ethical considerations of eating meat.
First, there’s a moral aspect to this decision. To put it bluntly, an animal dies every time you choose to eat meat. In the United States alone, nearly 22 million chickens are killed for food each day. Add to that the number of cows, pigs, lambs, goats, fish, and sea creatures that are eaten every day and it becomes an inescapable fact that most Western ways of eating are built upon a foundation of killing animals. At this point in our society, most people in developed countries can have full, healthy diets without relying on meat. So if we eat meat solely because it tastes good, is that good enough reason to justify killing billions of animals each year? In my opinion, no.
But there are also environmental reasons to give up meat. 97% of scientists agree that the planet is experiencing climate change, which will manifest in future years in warming temperatures that will make some areas of the world uninhabitable and create increasingly destructive weather patterns that will result in property loss, displacement, and food insecurity. Currently, livestock account for around 18% of the planet’s human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the emissions given off by beef and lamb production processes are about double those that come from growing equivalent amounts of tomatoes and broccoli; meanwhile, growing and harvesting vegetarian protein sources like beans and nuts produces 1/8 to 1/12 of the emissions that raising chickens does. Statistics like this make it clear that a widespread switch to vegetarian eating would have a huge positive effect on slowing the impact of climate change.
I would encourage every meat eater to confront with honesty the enormous scale of death that occurs because of worldwide meat consumption – but even if you can’t find moral fault with eating meat, take a look at those data points on meat and the environment. If nothing else, the oversized role that eating animals plays in contributing to an environmentally damaged future is a pretty strong argument for eating vegetarian.