22nd July 2015.
The issue of diet has always held a very special place in the hearts of people the world over. Since antiquity, there has been marked focus on diet and specific impacts that it has had on the long-term health of an individual. As if to add fuel to the already burning fire, a lot of debate has centered on the fact that there is absolutely a mountain of benefits obtained from taking a vegetarian diet than actually imagined. Lot of research done has actually made the connection between almost two thirds of the known types of cancer being directly or indirectly connected to diet. Additionally, other ailments such as heart conditions, blood cholesterol as well as obesity, are connected to diet.
Proponents of a vegetarian diet have always based their argument upon longevity, health and preservation of nature as their reasons for engaging in the diet. This raises the big dilemma about the effects of such a diet on the environment, and singles out the specific benefits that it can have on nature.
The benefits of a vegetarian diet have been well advocated by the proponents of it. However, a lot of discussion has f late been based on the possibility that a vegetarian diet can save the planet.
Such a discussion is going to be looked into, using a number of arguments and counter arguments.
First Argument: Reducing air and water pollution.
A vegetarian diet can help reduce the level of environmental destruction. For example, according to FAO, there are approximately one billion sheep and an additional number of cattle of an amount slightly higher than that. These animals produce about a third of the global methane production. Methane is an essential gas when it comes to the greenhouse effect and subsequent global warming. A vegetarian diet will result in maintenance of this number, which will have a subsequent effect of maintaining the amount of methane in the environment (Vidal, 2010).This will maintain the delicate balance in the ecosystem. However, switching to a non vegetarian diet is only bound to push up the demand and supply law, resulting to an increased rearing of livestock for meat production. For example, the demand for meat in the globe is going to increase to about 85% by the time the year 2030 approaches. Relating from this, it is only going to mean that a non vegetarian diet will result to an increase in the demand and subsequent production of livestock, which increases the amount of methane produced hence environmental harm (Bluejay, 2012).
The steps involved in meat processing also play a huge part in environmental degradation. According to Environmental Protection Agency (2015), the amount of pollutants emitted by the meat processing factories around the world account for a tremendous impact on the rivers flowing near them. The pollutants aren’t soluble and as a result, are swept downstream in form of solid wastes. Other chemicals as well, come from the farms where these animals are kept. They include the pesticides used during fumigation of these livestock. When they get into the rivers and other water bodies, it results to the deaths and subsequent destruction of marine life through suffocation of the marine organisms.
Counter Argument: Vegetarianism contributes to pollution
As earlier discussed, the impacts of taking and not taking meat in one’s diet are directly relational when it comes to the maintained of the ecological balance. Just the same way that demand for meat is bound to increase the number of livestock to cater for the demand, a lack of demand in the same will result to an uncontrolled increase in the same .The effects will therefore be similar. It is thus important that the animals get killed for food, in order to maintain the ecological balance too (Medical Daily, 2015).
Second Argument: Decrease the use of land and water.
A vegetarian diet also helps conserve the environment by helping decrease famine and subsequent desertification. This is by ensuring that more land is put under crop farming which will help in production of more food for the local population as compared to keeping livestock. Actually, livestock consumes more than it gives in terms of food (PEL, 2015).Keeping a large number of animals within a given area are bound to create so e for of competition for the available resources such as water and pasture. This will have the end result of drying up of water sources and exhaustion of pastures too. Furthermore, there will be erosion caused by the movement of the livestock on the bare ground left after exhaustion of the pastures. When this situation is prolonged, then there is a serious threat of famine and desertification (Haspel, 2014).
A vegetarian diet essentially consists of food that doesn’t contain any animal meat or seafood. The main driving force behind the vegetarian movement has always been based on environmental conservation and preservation of nature. A breakdown of the benefits of a vegetarian diet focuses mainly upon statistical findings as a result of research (Logsdon & Fairly, 2010).Nature has always consisted of all the biological and non biological factors that balance the planet. In this case, animals are part of the biological part of nature, which help in the balancing of the ecosystem .In order to maintain the natural equilibrium, the number of everything in nature should remain the same. This also impacts upon the number of animals that would have otherwise been slaughtered for meat in a non vegetarian diet. Therefore, a vegetarian diet maintains the natural equilibrium through upholding of animal welfare (Borghini, 2015).
Counter Argument: Vegetarianism increase use land and water
In just the same way that advocates for a vegetarian diet are praising it for having the capability to keep the planet green, it also has a downside. For example, among the leading causes of desertification are the increased agricultural activities by man. These activities especially focus on clearance of large tracts of forests and displacement of natural organisms, in order to establish farmlands for the sake of food production through crop farming. This results in a gradual destruction of the natural ecosystem as well as imbalance of the environment. A lot of water is used in irrigation of these farmlands, which results to excessive demand for water resources.
In conclusion, a vegetarian diet has been identified as having the potential to save the planet .A number of factors have been brought forward to support this, including the waste products of meat production and their impact on marine life. The gases emitted by livestock and their impact on global warming, and finally, the threat of famine posed by keeping a large number of livestock for meat purposes .However, the potency of a vegetarian diet to save the planet has been watered down by the fact that a reduction in the number of animals is essential in establishing ecological balance.
Bluejay, M. (2012). Vegetarianism and the Environment. Why going meatless saves the planet. Retrieved from http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/environment.html
Borghini, A. (2015). Ethical Arguments for Vegetarianism. Retrieved from http://philosophy.about.com/od/Everyday-Philosophy/a/Ethical-Arguments-For-Vegetarianism.htm
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (2015). Food and Pesticides. Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/food-and-pesticides
Haspel, T. (2014). Vegetarian or omnivore: The environmental implications of diet. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/vegetarian-or-omnivore-the-environmental-implications-of-diet/2014/03/10/648fdbe8-a495-11e3-a5fa-55f0c77bf39c_story.html
Logsdon, G., & Fairlie, S. (2010). Meat: A Benign Extravagance. Bottom of Form
Medical Daily. (2015). 3 Benefits of Eating Meat.Retrived from http://www.medicaldaily.com/3-benefits-eating-meat-234798
PEL. (2015). Why go vegetarian? Retrieved from http://peopleforethicalliving.com/vegan-vegetarian-world/
Vidal, J. (2010). 10 ways vegetarianism can help save the planet. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environment