There is a great debate currently going on, whether you should eat meat, reduce the amount of meat you eat (“flexetarian”), go vegetarian or completely vegan, for the climate and for your health. But should you?
There are two main arguments to eating less meat. The impact on climate and the impact on your health. So let’s dissect these arguments.
The carbon footprint of meat and dairy
Food accounts for 10%-30% of a household’s income. Typically, this figure is higher in lower-income households.
Out of that, meats account for approximately 57% and Dairy 18%.
Not all meats are created equal
While the carbon dioxide release for beef is almost 7 pounds per serving, and Legumes generate only 0.11 pounds per serving, switching from beef to pork (1.72 pounds per serving) or chicken (1.26 pounds per serving) will have a greater impact on your carbon footprint than switching from chicken to legumes.
This means that there are some carbon footprint savings that you could do by switching from beef or eating less meat.
On the whole, though, agriculture only accounts for about 8% of all carbon emmissions, so the savings are limited. Transportation, Energy and Manufacturing account for 70%, so it might be better to stop buying useless crap from China on Wish than to ditch that cheeseburger.
Source: University of Michigan
The impact of meat on your health
There are both benefits and risks of switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The benefits include slightly less risk of cardiac events and cancer in vegetarians, but the science is still unclear, and the links are weak.
At the same time, if not managing their diet properly, especially vegans can risk getting insufficient amounts of vitamin B12, Iron, Zinc and Omega-3. While rare, if the diet is not managed, there is also a slight risk of protein deficiency.
In other words, the research is unclear, but there might be a link between eating less meat and better health.
Is it immoral to eat meat?
Morality is a complex issue, and there are philosophical arguments both ways.
One thing that seems to be nearly universal, though, is that causing unnecessary suffering in animals is wrong. From that, one could draw the conclusion that if choosing to eat meat, it’s better to opt for free ranged and/or organic meat than factory farmed.
It also tends to taste better anyway.
Ultimately, you decide your own diet. You have to weigh the risks, benefits and ethical issues.
The important thing, though is that the choice is personal. Whether you decide to eat meat, become a flexetarian, vegetarian or vegan, it is a personal choice, and it doesn’t make you morally superior to anyone else, so live and let live, and let everyone else make their choices as well.
Enjoy your meal!