About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1295 |
7 min read
Published: Apr 11, 2019
Words: 1295|Pages: 3|7 min read
Would you be willing to give up meat just once a week to heal the world? In this essay I’m going to explain why it is a good idea.
If everyone in the world gave up meat even for just one day in every seven, we could improve our health while reducing: household costs, world hunger, the suffering of animals, and the effects of climate change. If western countries could turn their backs, just a little, on their meat-rich diets, and if emerging economies could stick to their traditional diets, even when they can afford to eat more meat, the world would be a better place.
Studies have shown that eating red and processed meat can raise your risk of heart disease and some cancers. Cutting down on these foods and eating something that is vegetable or plant based instead means you are reducing your saturated fat intake, reducing your cholesterol and with it reducing your risk of serious illness or obesity. The NHS estimates that 1 in 4 adults are overweight; if you are obese then your life expectancy will be reduced by an average of 3 to 10 years. Essentially our love of meat is unhealthy. Our mental health can be improved as well as our physical health by a vegetarian diet; meat is high in arachidonic acid and studies have shown that mood can be improved if this acid is restricted in our diet. Eating a vegetarian diet one day a week could be that reduction.
Did you know that bacon and sausages have around 16 times more saturated fat per gram than tofu? There are many meat alternatives out there for people to try that do not come from animals. More companies are making plant-based, meat free substitutes that look and taste like meat, so there are options for people to be vegetarian without giving up on their favourite dinner. There are other health benefits that arise from a vegetarian diet too. Vegetarians are less likely to develop diabetes or cataracts, it’s easier to maintain a healthy body weight; in turn you will have lower cholesterol, less risk of having a stroke and you are also less likely to snore!
Meat is expensive compared to other foods, so cutting down on the amount you buy can save you money. In fact, sticking with a vegetarian diet could save you up to £600 each year according to a survey. Vegetarianism has been seen as an expensive way to eat, but it is the normal diet for many poorer countries. Buying ready meals with a meat substitute may cost the same as their meat equivalent, however, seasonal vegetables, beans and pulses are cheap and a pack of tofu could feed a family of four for the same price as a piece of beef could feed a single person. A tofu meal instead of beef even just one day a week will reduce a family’s food bill.
Animals bred for our plates need food. A lot of food. Animals eat plants, and plants need a lot of land and a lot of water to grow. These are finite, precious resources and as demand for meat goes up, so does the demand for these resources. More and more forests, including the Brazilian Amazon are being cleared to grow more and more plants for animals to eat. Globally, 25% of land use is for livestock. With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, rising from the current estimate of just under 8 billion, the demand for beef will rise at the same time as other demands for the land. Approximately 811 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. If land wasn’t being used to grow crops for cattle, it could be used to grow crops to feed people instead. The US Department of Agriculture found that one acre of land could be used to produce either 24,000 kg of potatoes, 22,500 kg of tomatoes or 13,500 kg of carrots compared to just 113 kg of beef. Globally, 20-30% of all fresh water usage worldwide is for animal farming. It has been calculated that it takes 9,000 litres of water to produce less than 0.5 kg of beef. If you had a vegetarian meal instead of eating that beef, you would save enough water to shower for 6 months! Using these finite resources available to feed the growing world population means we will need to eat more sustainably in the future. Why wait? Why not start now?
There are more than 70 billion animals farmed each year around the world, with 25 billion killed annually for the meat industry. Two thirds of these animals are kept in conditions where they can’t move freely, see sunlight or even walk on grass. This is not a natural way to live and has a devastating impact on their health and welfare. The American food industry gives as much as 13.6 million kilograms of antibiotics to animals every year to stop the spread of disease in their unhealthy living conditions. This is more than four times the amount of antibiotics used on humans annually, and it is speeding up the global problem of antibiotic resistance. To keep up with our demand for meat, farming is done on an industrialised scale, often in a way that ensures maximum profit, with little thought for animal welfare. Choosing to eat even part of your diet as vegetarian means choosing to respect animals while choosing to not support industrialised farming.
Although individual events cannot be tied directly to Climate Change, extreme weather events are occurring with greater frequency. Dangerous wildfires are becoming more common in Australia, and floods in Europe have caused loss of life and terrible damage. A heat dome formed in Canada in 2020, where temperatures up to 49.6 degrees Celsius recorded in Lytton caused many deaths. If the whole world went vegetarian this would help reduce these disastrous occurrences.
Globally, farming animals is the cause of 18% of Climate Change. This is higher than all types of transportation added together. When a cowâ’s stomach breaks down its food it creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane traps heat in the atmosphere, increasing the Earth’s temperature and is 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. So, if you cut down on your beef intake, even by a little, you are helping the environment and reducing climate change. Beef is raised in areas of the world that are important to limiting Climate Change. The Brazilian rainforest is being cut down to make room for more cattle – this means more CO2 going into the atmosphere when the trees, which store carbon dioxide, are cut down and animals and plants lose their rainforest habitat. The effects of this deforestation are severe, causing soil erosion, flooding and more greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere. Deforestation has been happening for many thousands of years, but it has only become a widespread occurrence in the modern world. Cattle farming is the reason for 80% of deforestation.
If everybody in the world could be a vegetarian for just one day a week, the benefits from this would be felt in our health, our pockets, and in the climate. Changing habits could change the world. It would improve the lives of billions of people and animals, and could save millions of people from starvation. Less methane from cattle released into the atmosphere and replanting forests would help to heal the world and slow down Climate Change. Eating less red meat would mean less livestock being farmed which would mean less animal cruelty. It would mean more crops for humans, which could save the starving in poorer nations. If we could all be vegetarian one day a week, maybe we could manage to do more. Imagine if we were vegetarian for the whole week? So, eat up your greens for a greener, healthier future.
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