While visiting my mom, I saw a video extolling the virtues of a plant-based diet versus an animal-based diet. The video was not the greatest in terms of production values, (i.e. most of the film was shots of someone talking, or stills with voice-overs) but it certainly got the point across.
Most of the content was stuff that I already knew, but which I’ve been somewhat comfortable with ignoring. For example, I already knew:
- Having meat in one’s diet significantly raises risk of heart disease
- Meat is an inefficient use of resources, especially water
- Most livestock is raised in cruel, inhumane conditions
I did not know these and other compelling facts:
- Chicken and fish aren’t really “healthy” alternatives; impact to the body is much the same.
- Cutting out all animal-based foods from one’s diet is found to reverse heart disease
- Not only is heart disease way higher in meat-eaters; so is hypertension and breast/prostate/colon cancer.
- Deaths from heart disease and cancer attributed to meat in diets account for more deaths than any other killer, including auto accidents.
- Livestock farms contribute more greenhouse gasses than cars. Cutting 20% of meat from a typical American diet removes more greenhouse gas from the atmosphere than switching to a hybrid car.
- Livestock-raising is heavily subsidized in this country and the EU; if cattle ranchers received no subsidies and had to pay for water they use or pollute, beef would probably cost around $90/pound.
- Poorer countries in Asia and Africa have much less meat in their diets, and much lower rates of heart disease and cancer, but in areas where they adopt more Western habits, they are quickly catching up in both.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to immediately switch to a vegan diet, but I would very much like to gradually reduce meat consumption to be far less frequent — I’d like to get to where meat is a rare treat and not a daily staple. I am not so sure about eggs and cheese… I will probably reduce them but not drastically. I also now believe that livestock subsidies are pretty unfair, given the number of people around the world who are starving, and the hugely asymmetrical impact to the environment. Maybe I’ll take a look around for meats that are sustainably farmed…
Also, I’m not a parent, but if I were, I would seriously think long and hard about raising my kid on an animal diet. It’s pretty late in the game for me to get used to a very-low-meat diet, but I would probably have had a much easier time if I had been raised to regard meat/cheese/milk/eggs as an occasional treat instead of a “requirement”.