Opinion: It couldn’t hurt to eat less meat

Matthew Bertovich

Matthew Bertovich

Matthew Bertovich is a junior psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Hamburgers, steak, chicken wings, bacon (oh yes, bacon) — all my favorite foods have one thing in common: They come from animals. But I’m not alone. Worldwide, an estimated 2.7 billion people live primarily on a meat-based diet, while an estimated 4.3 billion live primarily on a plant-based diet. Can you guess where the majority of those meat-eaters come from? Yeah, America. That probably needs to change. Here’s why:

For the environment, it’s the responsible choice. Back on Halloween 2012, the worldwide population hit 7 billion people. That is a lot of mouths to feed, which take a lot of land and tons of water. In fact, approximately 40 percent of land on Earth is used for growing food, and 70 percent of all the water we consume is used for watering vegetation. If you can believe it, it takes about 15 times more energy to produce a pound of meat compared to a pound of grain. That’s because 40 percent of today’s crops are used as animal feed, making dairy and meat production very inefficient and wasteful. Research suggests that this agricultural inefficiency is the main contributor to climate change, loss of species and global water shortages — the planet is approaching its physical limits. Thus far, humanity has been fortunate enough to invent efficient alternatives to push these limits further, but it will reach critical points eventually.

For your own health, it’s better. Vegetarians live longer, healthier lives. That’s a fact. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and even protein. Meat, on the other hand, contains disease, growth hormones and plaque for your arteries. Unfortunately, some think dropping meat from their diet won’t fit their lifestyles, but there is a vegetarian option for everyone. Look at Adrian Peterson, an NFL Pro Bowl running back. He does just fine on a vegan diet! Keep in mind that there are plenty of other options for nourishment. The range of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts far exceeds meat in variety. Why have boring beef and chicken cuts every day when you can explore a nourishing world of color, texture and taste?

For the animals, it’s the right thing to do. Some may argue that this is simply a scare tactic, but animals really are treated horribly. They’re slaughtered, dying in cruel and scary conditions. Did you know that pigs are equal in intelligence to chimps, and even higher compared to dogs? No wonder they scream and fight when dragged into the slaughterhouse — and that blood is on you and me.

I know I sound like a hypocrite; I just told you how much I love meat, and I really do, but at the end of the day it’s selfish. For one week, I tested myself. I wanted to see if cutting meat from my diet was possible, because if I could do it, anyone can. I made it to Saturday before getting sick. Warning: it isn’t healthy to stop life-long habits cold turkey.

But since then, I remain conscious of what I choose to eat. I do this for myself, for the planet and for the animals. I can only hope you’ll do the same.