Save the planet; save yourself

Courtesy photo.

By JENNA GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:

The World Health Organization ranks meat with cigarettes, asbestos and arsenic as one of the most cancer causing substances in the world. By eating less meat, you will reap significant health benefits, save the animals, environment and reduce your carbon footprint.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change as it makes a 40 percent greater contribution to global warming than all transportation combined and is one of the primary causes of global warming, species extinction, water depletion and ocean dead zones.

Plant-based, meatless meals are built around whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. By not eating beef, you save more than eight cows a month, more than 100 a year and more than 300 in three years. Not only is eating less meat ethical because of all of the animals you will save, it is the best decision you can make for the environment as it takes 660 gallons of water to make one hamburger, which is equivalent to showering for two months straight.

Now I know as soon as someone utters the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” –especially in the Texas Panhandle– people who eat meat feel this strange reason to defend their food choices or make fun of those who eat differently than they do.

They say things like, “Oh, well I don’t eat that much meat” or “I only eat fish” or “Well, it’s OK because I drive a hybrid car,” as if vegans and vegetarians are going to ridicule them for their choices. This is not the case. It is easy to confuse vegetarians’ and vegans’ passion with anger, but they are not angry. It is just that they are aware of the way animals are treated by factory farmers, which is largely out of step with most people’s values.

We live in a society where we are so consumed by habit, taste and convenience that we don’t stop to think about what our bodies thrive on, what the environment needs and what species we are exploiting for a single meal.

We never question where our food is coming from, who is profiting and who is suffering in order for it to get into supermarkets.

Eating animals actually kills more plants than just eating plants directly does. On 1.5 acres of land, we can produce either 375 pounds of meat or 37,000 pounds of plant-based food, like potatoes. Plus, eating less meat will cut down on the cost of restaurant meals and groceries. Most people think eating vegetarian or vegan is expensive, but it is actually one of the cheapest ways to eat.

Consuming less meat saves more than just land, animals and plants—it saves people, too. Every year, 70 billion animals are consumed worldwide (more than 100 per person). We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people and giving half of it to animals—and then killing them.

By consuming less meat, even just by participating in “Meatless Mondays,” you can reduce the impact of climate change, rainforest destruction and pollution while saving your health, animals, water and other precious resources. Now for the love of plants, eat less meat!

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