There’s three things my meat-eating friends and family say to me when they find out I am a vegetarian: Where do you get your protein? Why are you a vegetarian? Does that mean you won’t eat chicken?
As someone that cares deeply about my environmental impact, I was embarrassed about eating meat. I justified my decision by only eating sustainable, local meat when available. My concern wasn’t about animals well being (although that’s important too), but moreso on the impacts of raising animals for human consumption on our environment.
Having studied factory farming and its many infractions, I have always tried to understand why so many people that were aware of the implications of the industry still choose to eat meat. The numbers are staggering: If we continue to adopt meat-heavy Western diets, greenhouse gas emission are expect to rise by 80 percent before 2050 (at which time we won’t be able to meet the demands of the expected 9.2 billion people on our planet). A PNAS article also notes that beef’s the worst culprit, producing five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie.
To be fair, I understand and sympathize with meat eaters. Meat is delicious, full of flavour, and is widely available. I was never interested in giving up my guilty pleasure until I created a New Year’s resolution and decided to not eat meat for the month of January. I called it Veguary. One month turned into two (Fegurary), then three (Meatless March). It’s now September and my craving for meat is constantly fading (along with my need to rename every month). I now officially consider myself a vegetarian.
My reason for becoming a vegetarian is simple. Why do we need to use nutrient rich agricultural land to grow grains and corn to feed animals that are raised for human consumption? Instead, we can use agricultural land to feed people, begin to end world hunger and eliminate the negative implications of factory farming on the environment and animals.
Turning Veguary into a life long journey has been a lot easier than I expected. I have reduced my environmental impact and my carbon footprint greatly, and I encourage others to do the same.