Eschewing meat and choosing plants as the foundation for the most perfect diet is a decision supported in multiple dimensions, such as health, ecology, and sustainability. Nutritionally speaking, humans do not require animal products to survive. We, in fact, benefit from emphasizing plants as fuel, enjoying a reduced risk for obesity and most of the chronic diseases that plague society at all-time highs. All nutrients can be found – packaged better – in plants, save for the microbial-produced vitamin B12 and sun-inspired vitamin D. But, in addition to these health-oriented advantages, there are at least these five crucial non-nutritional reasons for going plant-based…
1. Overuse of antibiotics has led to the proliferation of superbugs – bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics – resulting in the heightened risk of untreatable infections in humans (article, article). Seventy to eighty percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are sold for agricultural use (article, article, article). I previously wrote a more detailed analysis on the threat of antibiotic resistance here.
2. Livestock production is the most significant contributor to environmental destruction, more so than all transportation combined. Factory farming is incredibly energy-intensive, depleting our land, oceans, and fresh water and food supplies (report, video). We are using our planet’s resources at approximately 1.6 times the rate beyond what it can provide and we will require two full Earths to sustain our current eating behaviors, according to sustainability consultant, Dr. Richard Oppenlander.
3. Animal cruelty. The only way to bring animals to the table at the rate at which humans are consuming them is to impose extraordinary conditions, invoking a lifetime of incessant torture, and then untimely, brutal slaughter to approximately 70 billion animals a year. (Mercy For Animals, 10 Billion Lives, Earthlings trailer)
4. Animal products are chemical cocktails. Hormones, toxins, pathogens, (more on foodborne illness), chemicals, and medications are all regularly found in meats, dairy, and eggs. Worse, inspections by the government to regulate and protect us from these risks are flawed, failing, imperfect, and deceptive…
5. The consumption of animals costs us exorbitant amounts of money in healthcare by billions of dollars, since eating animals is associated with drastically increased risks of the most common chronic diseases and symptoms requiring long-term pharmaceutical and medical management. Further, livestock production is heavily subsidized by the government primarily by supporting feed crop operations, saving farmers billions of dollars and helping consumers eat more harmful animal products at lower prices, but suffering the adverse health effects, nonetheless.
- Bittman’s New York Time’s Rethinking the Meat Guzzler
- NPR’s A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up
- Eating Whole Food, Plant-Based
- 100 Scientific Reasons to Not Eat Meat
- Dr. Richard Oppenlander’s Food Choice and Sustainability
- John Robbins’ The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Save the World