Should we stop eating meat in order to save the planet?

by wr on September 14, 2016 - 10:13pm

Since a few decades, people have followed the vegetarianism movement. Many of us are now wondering why do people try vegetarianism and what benefits does it have for our planet and us. Some people do believe in animal rights and cruelty but many are also concerned about the environmental degradation of our fascinating planet that’s called ‘the earth’. While I did some research on the subject, this ethical question often distinguished itself: Should we banish the meat industry in order to save the planet? In the following lines, I will summarise and identify the moral values of each side of this debate by concluding with my personal opinion on this ethical issue.

The article I have chosen for this ethical environmental debate is called: “Save The Planet Stop Eating Meat”, Which explains in great details the meat industry’s environmental impact on our planet as well as the meat producers’ opinion about the subject. This article starts its first pages by talking about the different organizations that promote vegetarianism, such as the Ethical Vegetarian Alternative, which is probably the largest vegetarian organization in Belgium that says that if people could restrain themselves from eating meat only one day every week, it would be the same as eliminating a million cars off the road. The vegetarianism movement is gaining more attention not only in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe but also in North America and many other places around the world. The famous former Beatle and animal rights fighter, Paul McCartney founded a “Meat Free Monday Campaign”, which encouraged people to deprive themselves from eating meat once a week as well. People have fought a long way for the debate on animal cruelty but the environmental aspect of this debate is practically new and not a lot of people were concerned about this dramatic issue. According to many studies, such as a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the university of Chicago, suggest that the vegan diet is one of the most effective way of reducing our environmental impact and it is more efficient than driving a hybrid car (Engelhart and Köhler 3). Livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gases, more than any forms transportation combined and it is the leading cause of deforestation and water pollution, according to a report, “Livestock’s long shadow” released in 2006 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Engelhart and Köhler 3). Many of us thought cars were the major problem for the environmental degradation of our planet but it turns out livestock is more devastating for us and yet, we have problems admitting and reducing our meat consumption. We have quintupled our consumption for the past 50 years and it is expected to double by 2050 (Engelhart and Köhler 4). This debate inevitably has two sides and the meat corporations in the US see the Meat Free Monday Campaign as a brainwash and are very sceptical of the new vegetarianism movement because of future taxes that could terribly affect the meat industry and the millions of jobs that are related to it in the US and Canada as well.

On the moral perspective of this debate, there is one side that obviously thinks that the vegetarianism movement is the solution to the environmental disaster that the meat industry causes. If we take example on a moral claim that says, “Always act for the greater good”, it would definitely go in accordance with the values of this movement. Gratitude, life and awareness are values that vegetarian people might have in common, since most of them want our planet to be healthier and certainly not degrading as it has been for the past 150 years. Life is primarily important to them, they want humans to live and take the vegetarian or vegan approach to improve the earth’s condition even though it is probably irreversible at this time. Human life is another moral claim that represent well the values of this opinion of the debate, as I mentioned in the previous lines, life is, once again, one of the values that could fit well this claim. Others, though, are more into animal rights and represent, as an example, the moral principle of doing no harm to other humans or any other forms of living species. Respect others could be a value for those who chose not to eat animals. Now on the other hand of the debate, there are those who do not necessarily believe in the vegetarianism movement and think that we have the right and possibility to eat meat. A lot more people are neither vegetarian nor vegan compare to those who are actually in the movement and it is certainly their right, including myself because I’m not a vegetarian, to be fully respected. As a personal example, I was quietly sitting in a park in Montreal and I suddenly heard a group of demonstrators who were saying, “No to abattoir” and “Go vegan”, which I thought was insulting because we have the right to eat meat as much as we want, even though we know the consequences it has on our planet. One moral principle that describes well this way of thinking would be to respect people’s autonomy, which means, in other words, “live and let live”. It encourages peace and harmony as well.

In conclusion, I have a clear and decisive opinion about this ethical debate. In my thoughts, the meat industry has already gone to far and the environmental impact it has on our planet is ridiculously shocking. I think the solution is definitely not hidden and we know exactly what to do if we want to save our environment. Becoming vegetarian might not be the easiest thing for everyone but it is surely one of the most efficient ways that will improve the earth’s environmental condition. One question that triggers my mind though is if either the whole population will be able to follow the vegetarian movement, especially in countries where the meat industry is expanding itself.

 

Work Cited

Engelhart, Katie, and Nicholas Köhler. "Save The Planet Stop Eating Meat." Maclean's 123.11/12 (2010): 56-59. Academic Search Elite. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

 

 

 

Comments

Your title really drew me in. To be honest, I thought that being vegetarian was a lifestyle choice, but your post made me aware that the meat industry is actually causing a problem in the world.

I, like you, am not a vegetarian/vegan and believe that there is a question of respecting people's autonomy. I understand that eating meat-free is just as healthy in most cases, but it still doesn't give those who are against it the right to rub the message in our faces, as they did in your example of Montreal. Also, I agree that the debate on vegetarianism was done primarily for animal rights, whereas the environmental damage aspect seems completely new. I know a few vegetarians myself and they never once told me about the environmental impact, but went on about animal lives.

I would say that I agree with what you're saying in that everyone should try to become vegetarian. Those who do are stronger than I. However, personally, I think the values in play for me would be autonomy, like you mentioned, as well as flexibility and freedom of belief. Therefore, while I agree with a veggie eating movement, I won't force anyone, myself included, to be one.

I understand your position and once again concur, but what do you think we can actually do to push people to try a meat-free diet aside from the guilt trips?

Your post hit home pretty hard as I am a vegetarian by choice after realizing the cruelty that these animals go through. I value vegetarianism, however, I also believe in respecting others autonomy. Moreover, I respect that others need their proteins and get it from meat, I am not one to say to stop as I did grow up eating it and know the need for it, only recently have I switched. I did not realize the environmental impact that is occurring at the same time, I have one more reason to be a vegetarian now! How hard would it be for you to switch?

The quality of your post is impressive. Evoking title, good structure, interesting subject… You post gives a really good perspective of how the meat industry is killing our environment.
I also believe that the meat industry as gone too far and that it has negative impacts on our environment, but also on humans. Animals are killed brutally in order to satisfy our needs which is cruel. And thousands of human beings are obligated to work in insoluble work places in order to satisfy their basic needs. Should we impose these non-ethical conditions to our people as a society? However, I am also not a vegetarian, but I do not consume meat everyday and I try to eat aliments that are cruelty free, which is hard to find. I believe that if people try to consume just a little less meat, it would be an amazing thing and a right ethical choice. But do you think we could actually change the habits of our society?

Your article really impressed me! The organisation of the text and the choice of words are very important and you have been able to shake and make us reflecting on our habits. I agree with you, the arguments for the vegetarianism are strong, according to the type of values I have. I am not a vegetarian either but after reading your article, the arguments supporting this diet gradually convince me. The major moral claim you proposed was the acting for the greater good but I think we could add that adopting vegetarian habits is also part of our collective responsibility. The last value is, in my opinion, truly relevant especially today when we are seeing all the damages that we have done to our planet. Thus, the value is even more important because we rely on each other to slow down our environmental footprint. I totally respect the individual’s autonomy and freedom but I think that in this case, we must pay more attention to our health and to act to protect the one of our children. That being said, could we attribute the increase of physical and intellectual disabilities diagnostics to the pollution we created?

This post brought up interesting perspectives and solutions on environmental issues. When most people think about vegetarianism they relate it to animal rights and rarely evaluate the environmental conflicts involving the meat industry. Your use of empirical data brings credibility to your post. Not only was the evidence of your claim concrete, it was relevant to your claim. You provided a claim, evidence to support it, and provided a solution. The meatless Mondays solution was a fascinating solution to such an important issue.
Even though you explained the dramatic benefits that meatless Mondays would have I think it is important to evaluate the practicality of it. Looking at this phenomenon with a functionalist perspective would allow the meatless Monday movement to be very impactful. However, if you look at it using the symbolic interactionalist perspective it does not seem as practical. Although it is a worthy cause, individuals do not tend to interrupt or inconvenience their routine unless it is for a cause that directly affects them. So even though this solution in theory would be impactful regarding a whole society, it isn’t practical when evaluated at an individual perspective.

This post brought up interesting perspectives and solutions on environmental issues. When most people think about vegetarianism they relate it to animal rights and rarely evaluate the environmental conflicts involving the meat industry. Your use of empirical data brings credibility to your post. Not only was the evidence of your claim concrete, it was relevant to your claim. You provided a claim, evidence to support it, and provided a solution. The meatless Mondays solution was a fascinating solution to such an important issue.
Even though you explained the dramatic benefits that meatless Mondays would have I think it is important to evaluate the practicality of it. Looking at this phenomenon with a functionalist perspective would allow the meatless Monday movement to be very impactful. However, if you look at it using the symbolic interactionalist perspective it does not seem as practical. Although it is a worthy cause, individuals do not tend to interrupt or inconvenience their routine unless it is for a cause that directly affects them. So even though this solution in theory would be impactful regarding a whole society, it isn’t practical when evaluated at an individual perspective.

The subject that you chose is very relevant to our society right now so it brought my attention very quickly. The debate between vegetarian and meat lover is increasing in popularity since a couple of years now. The debate is not only on animal cruelty but also on the environment like you mentioned in your article. Personally, I think that on an environment level, they are both at equality. I really think that doing agriculture or being in the meat industry polluted as much. In my opinion, we should not all become vegetarian because it’s in our nature to eat meat. It’s always have been this way and we need meat. Although, there should be more regulation on the meat industry so everything is done with respect towards the animals and the environment. There should be less big farm with thousands of animals that’s for sure.

I was really interested by the title and topic because it's a very common topic these days and I know so many people who are becoming vegetarian to help the planet and to save animals. In my opinion, people eat way too much meat and a lot think that vegetarian food just isn't good but that's simply because they've never really tried it. With this said, I think if people would eat more vegetarian meals it could really help simply for their own health but also because we should take care of the animals instead of using them for all kinds of things, especially to eat and they are treated really bad. Do people really care for their planet and the living things around them or they only care about their own wants?