The United States is a nation. We are known for our burgers and . But should we really be eating as much meat as we do? Since 1909, the United States’ meat consumption has risen from 9.8 billion pounds to 52.2 billion pounds a year. That’s 270.7 pounds per person per year — Luxembourg is the only country in the world that tops us as far as meat consumption goes. With this rise in demand for meat, a number of problems have arisen, like a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
For a lot of us, going fully vegetarian would be too hard to handle. Most of us grew up eating meat during our childhood. It’s a part of our lives, but cutting down your meat consumption to two meals a week or less could make a huge impact on your health and the world. Here are some reasons to reduce the amount of meat in your diet:
It’s Better for the Environment
The industrial meat business has started to take an incredible toll on the environment. Most livestock are fed with corn and soybeans, both of which are grown in large amounts in the United States. In fact, the majority of corn grown in the U.S. is not consumed directly in its original form. Only 12% of the yield goes to consumers, and about 75% goes to feed animals. It’s estimated that growing the amount of corn and soybeans that we do requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year. On top of that, to make room for those crops, massive deforestation takes place, which threatens biodiversity. Livestock is also estimated to contribute 20% of overall methane emissions, a highly destructive greenhouse gas. The amount of water that needs to be used for the raising, processing, and shipping of meat is also problematic in a time of water insecurity.
It’s Better for Your Health
Meat is not technically essential for our diets, and sometimes too much of it can be harmful. People may argue that we lack protein if we cut meat out of our diets, but there are plenty of protein options for vegetarians and vegans, from humble beans and brown rice to meat substitutes made from soy or wheat protein. Red meat has been shown to contribute to heart disease and increase your risk of stroke. Meat is also higher in fat content than vegetable protein sources. A study has even shown that eating less meat can improve your mood. Meat is high in Omega 6 fatty acid, which, when consumed in large amounts, can cause mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder.
It’s More Humane
Almost all vertebrates are considered by scientists to be sentient. This means that the farm animals that we eat can experience pain, both emotionally and physically. When you think about the conditions that most industrially raised animals live in, it’s hard not to imagine the pain they must experience. Even if you do eat meat, if you only eat meat that was humanely raised, you can use your dollar to essentially support the type of treatment you find acceptable.
It’s Easier and Cheaper
Unlike meat, which takes a lot of time and effort to cook, most fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw or with very little cooking. This makes it much easier to make your meals. On top of that, fruits and vegetables are generally cheaper than meat, so you’d be spending less money on your groceries.