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4 Perspective-Changing Reasons to Stop Eating Meat

Riah has been a vegetarian for two years, and the transition came with some questions from those around her. Here are her answers.

After struggling for years, I decided to try going vegetarian.

After struggling for years, I decided to try going vegetarian.

What It Means to Go Meat-Free

I have been a vegetarian for two years or so. I am well aware of the vegetarian/vegan stereotypes. I have never been a person who wants to guilt you or shame you for your eating choices, but what I am about to do is try to explain why I, and many others, believe it is a good idea to go meat-free.

How I Became Vegetarian

I did not grow up in a vegetarian household. In fact, I grew up with two divorced parents, and both households consumed meat. I know what meat tastes like, and I will admit that it can taste good.

However, when I was in the twelfth grade, my world issues teacher wanted us to learn about cruelty in the meat industry. I had already seen a portion of a video two years prior, and I physically could not bring myself to watch even a second of it again. I did not want to hear the video, either, because even the audio could be disturbing at times.

People, myself included, feel like they want to look away from things like this. Out of sight, out of mind—ignorance is bliss. We like to pretend things are not happening, and that we do not feed into these issues by consuming and paying for services and products that result from cruelty.

From "Just Try" to Total Investment

I had already struggled with the idea for years, and finally, at that point, I decided I would try to be vegetarian. Just try . . . and see how it goes. Today, I have been meat-free for almost two years, and I do not intend to stop. I am even more invested in the idea of being meat-free than I was when I started because I have learned so much more and gained an even deeper understanding of the cons of meat consumption.

I stopped eating meat due to ethical reasons, but there are other arguments that are relevant, too. In this article, I'd like to share four. Some of these reasons you may have heard before, and some are my own personal theories. But in all of this, I ask you to keep an open mind.

All I am asking you to do is take five minutes out of your day to read and learn.

4 Reasons for Going Meat-Free

  1. The Environmental Crisis
  2. We Are Not Lions
  3. Your Health Matters
  4. The Ethical Argument

All I am asking you to do is take five minutes out of your day to read and learn.

Reason 1: The Environmental Crisis

As I am sure you have heard, to put it very bluntly, we are destroying Earth. I could sit here for hours to talk about all the issues that us humans have created, and our hedonistic nature that is the route of this problem (we will get to that later), but in this case, I will try to educate you about the point at hand.

Agricultural practices in general, have contributed to global warming. The effects that are caused by animal production specifically, are as follows: animal methane, fossil fuel pollution, water/land consumption, and waste in water-dense areas.

More and more articles are showing up, speaking on the effects that a plant-based diet could have on the environment—and they are positive ones! Many people have begun taking up this kind of diet, to help the cause. If you are wondering what you can do to help our home planet, this is a suggestion.

Agricultural practices in general, have contributed to global warming. The effects that are caused by animal production specifically, are as follows: animal methane, fossil fuel pollution, water/land consumption, and waste in water-dense areas.

Reason 2: We Are Not Lions

This is an argument that I came up with, and I have believed in it for a while.

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Many people like to talk about eating meat as if it is a right. "It is the circle of life, and we are at the top of the food chain." In my opinion, humans are very entitled beings. They are hedonistic, like I said—they enjoy pleasure, sometimes at the expense of other people or things.

The difference between a human and a lion is that a human is not a lion. Well, that seems obvious, doesn't it? It sounds stupid and unnecessary to point out, but it is true. A lion is one creature at the top of the food chain, and it hunts its prey, which are animals that are below it on the food chain.

Human beings—as far as we know—are the most intelligent creatures ever discovered, and they seem to believe that they are at the top of the food chain. Realistically, we have placed ourselves there, but not fairly.

We kill all creatures. There has never been an animal more destructive than we are. Half the time, we will go into an animal's natural habitat, and either destroy their home or destroy them. In certain instances—for example, forests, jungles or oceans—WE go into THEIR home, and when they get scared (as they should), and defend themselves or try to flee, we kill them.

Carnivores vs. Omnivores

Back to the example of the lion (which people also kill, for sport, only proving again how hedonistic, greedy and careless we are). A lion is a carnivore. A carnivore eats solely meat, and needs that to survive. A lion is not intelligent to know about other diets, a lion eats meat because it can only eat meat to survive. It is in their biology.

Humans, in most cases, have been brought up in society as omnivores. Lions biologically need meat, humans eat meat because it is a social construct. A human is intelligent enough to know about different ways one can eat, and also, is intelligent enough to know that they do not need meat to survive. Humans need nutrients, different things in meat to keep them healthy. But these things can be found in other foods, that are not meat.

In my case, I am anemic. I was told I should eat things like red meats from people so many times I stopped counting. But it turns out that iron is not just in red meats. Iron is in green foods, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruits etc. The list goes on and on. Not only this, but there are iron supplements one can take. My point is, I am anemic and a vegetarian. I am alive.

Humans do not need meats to survive, they need nutrients which comes in many, many different kinds of foods.

A healthy eating diagram.

A healthy eating diagram.

Reason 3: Your Health Matters

Eating meats has proven to be unhealthy for you in large portions. In fact, meat has been recognized as something with so many negative side effects, that the Canada Food Guide now suggests we need less meat and more plant based alternatives. Not only this, they have completely removed dairy from the guide, indicating that it too has negative repercussions for consuming it, and is not needed in your day to day life.

This is real. This is people telling you, that you do not even need animal by-products, and that you should be eating less meat, and more plant-based proteins.

Side Effects of Eating Meat

Some of the side effects of eating meat:

  • Some meats can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
  • It can also make you more at risk of resistance to antibiotics.
  • Eating meat can put the hormones from the meat into your body.

The most interesting point, I came across is that research shows that vegetarians and vegans live longer than meat-eaters. This research was done with 70,000 people in JAMA Internal Medicine Magazine.

If you won't stop eating meat for any of the other reasons listed, maybe it is worth considering the effects it has on you. Not only you, but your loved ones if you are making them meals that include meat as well

Reason 4: The Ethical Argument

I know people may not want to hear this—but killing an animal is still taking a life. Whether or not you yourself kill it, or if you are simply a consumer, it all comes back to a death.

Back to the sociological side of things, people have been raised to believe that animals are theirs. That meat is for the taking. That the blood is not on their hands as a consumer. But even stranger, some people believe that certain animals are more precious and more worthy of life than others.

"Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others"

Societal viewpoints vary in different societies, but I know that over here in North America where I am from, the killing and consumption of dogs is frowned upon. People hate hearing about dogs getting hurt. We keep them in our houses, along with other animals that we have decided is acceptable to take care of, and hate the idea of harm coming to them.

The way we are raised and the things we are taught tend to stick with us. It is ridiculously hard for people to step out of these concepts they grew up with, and formulate their own opinions—to even just listen to the other side of an argument. As a psychology major and sociology minor, I know this. But once you truly break out of the habit of mindlessly following societal norms, and even just for a second, think for yourself about what lies beyond those beliefs and ideas, you realize there is so much more to the picture.

It is so easy to follow the beliefs of other people, the beliefs of society, but society's beliefs are not always our own.

Dogs and Farm Animals

I love dogs. They are sweet creatures, but believe me when I say that farm animals are some of the biggest babies. They are like dogs themselves. They only want love. Many of them are even intelligent enough to know when their life is going to end. They love like dogs, but they fear like us. They know they are going to die in slaughterhouses, but they don't know why.

Murder is murder. People can be so weird about the way they have chosen to separate things in this world. How they get to decide what is deserving of life and what isn't. People have always done that. People have even separated other people into groups of what is acceptable and what isn't. What is normal and what isn't. In severe cases, some people even dictate who they think deserves to live because of who they are. People love to split things into groups, but it does not make sense how they do so. And the act of doing so seems immoral in itself.

How is the bloodshed of specific creatures, less disgusting than the bloodshed of another? All creatures feel pain, fear, and they all want love amongst themselves and sometimes humans as well. Whether or not you are the butcher, or the person who picks up a chicken breast at the store, or orders steak for dinner, you contribute to that.

You think you don't? Let me ask you this. What would happen if you didn't buy meat? If fewer people bought meat and chose plant-based options, fewer animals would need to die. It does make a difference.

If we don't want to eat it, it doesn't need to be killed.

It Does Matter

It is not a small group of people that have decided to make this change. Why do you think so many restaurants have meat-free options now? Why have so many fast food places have gone with plant-based proteins? It is in demand. Certain places, cities and towns have even stopped eating meat so much that animals do not need to be farmed for their meat in those locations anymore.

It does matter, and it does make a difference. It is slowly becoming socially acceptable, and people are breaking away from the norms that seemed to have been driven into our upbringings. You just need to open your mind, and heart, to see the bigger picture.

If we don't want to eat it, it doesn't need to be killed.

I Leave You With This

If you made it this far, I thank you for your time and hope that you did read this with an open mind.

I can understand why humans eat meat. I truly can. I know that it is a combination of how they were brought up, what they prefer to consume, and sadly, the hedonistic nature that grows inside their perceived entitlement. I know that they may argue, that it is their life.

They want to live their life to the fullest, and eat what tastes good, and do what they think will make them feel the best.

But at the expense of something else's life?

There is one concept from Buddhist teachings that I feel ties into this. The idea is that all things you have, came from something else. In the teachings, they talk about having awareness for the process that got your object, to where it is now, in front of you.

Consider the Journey of What You Consume

In the case of something you enjoy, like coffee perhaps, consider the journey it went through before being in your cup. Consider the countless man-hours of those workers in another country, consider how far the beans traveled, and how it was made.

Now do the same with your meat. Think of the life of the small animal in the farm. Being born for one sole purpose. Think of its family members suffering the fate that it will face, when it is still young. Think of the love it wants and would be willing to give if it did not have to live in fear. Think of that fear. Think of the pain it feels, when it is murdered. Do not look away from it, do not separate the before with the after—the murder—with your meal.

You are not excluded from the process, you are just at the end of it and do not get to see the work, and suffering that occurred because of it.

You are not excluded from the process, because when you consume, you are the reason for it.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Riah Marie

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