Americans Should Protect Earth, Health by Eating Less Meat

Penelope Waterbury, Cav Culture Editor

The vast majority of Americans eat meat during every meal: bacon or sausage at breakfast, deli meat at lunch, and a steak or burger at dinner. However, this amount of meat consumption isn’t necessary. Not only has the main method of livestock raising in America, factory farming, been proven to be harmful to both animals and the environment, but there are now many more healthy, meatless alternatives available. Taking all of this into account, Americans should begin making an effort to eat less meat.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) website, factory farming is how 99 percent of our livestock in America is raised. Factory farming is often used by corporations in an effort to reduce costs and increase profit. How is this done? By raising animals unethically. Cows, pigs, and other farm animals are crammed into tight wire cages until they are slaughtered. These unhealthy conditions breed disease and often result in many accidental animal deaths. 

The effects of factory farming. Image by Naomi Scully-Bristol.

In addition to this, many of the animals are fed antibiotics and are genetically modified in order to grow them to an abnormally large size. Pumping animals full of these unnatural substances actually puts the human population at risk by increasing the risk of obesity and chronic disease, as well as the larger threat of zoonotic disease outbreaks according to farmsanctuary.org.

If the negative effects on both animal and human health weren’t enough reason to eat less meat, the environment also suffers as a result of overwhelming meat consumption in America. Water pollution from animal waste and air pollution are only two of the many ways the environment is damaged by factory farming. Methane, a greenhouse gas worse than carbon dioxide, has over 37 percent of its emissions coming from factory farms (onegreenplanet.org). Carbon dioxide and methane emissions, as well as the large-scale deforestation performed in order to make space for these massive industrial farms, contributes largely to global warming.

Meat doesn’t need to be a part of every meal, every day. As a start, there should be an attempt to have one meatless meal each day. Fortunately, we are living in 2021, which means there are hundreds of meatless options to choose from. Beans and tofu are two very simple meatless options which still provide plenty of protein. Brands like Morning Star, Gardien, and Lightlife offer vegetarian options for foods such as sausage, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and burgers. They are easy to find in the grocery store and are easy to prepare.

The Beyond Burger, a plant based burger made to taste like meat. Images courtesy of beyondmeat.com.

However, in recent years, plant-based meat has been taken to a new level by two brands in particular: Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, who have released plant-based burgers made specifically to taste like and have the same texture as regular beef burgers.

The Beyond Meat website says the process behind the creation of their products involves the “heating, cooling, pressure and mixing” of the ingredients: peas, mung beans, faba beans, brown rice, and cocoa butter among other vitamins and minerals (beyondmeat.com). Beet juice has even been used to recreate the blood in actual beef.

The Impossible Burger, however, is made in a lab. Scientists have developed a special type of yeast in which they insert the DNA of soy plants. This creates the base of the “meat,” and with the addition of a few other vitamins and minerals, the Impossible Burger is complete, according to the Washington Post.

These burgers have as much protein as a traditional burger would, but with less cholesterol and saturated fat. Ultimately, they are not as healthy as a true veggie burger would be, but they are still a better choice for both human health and the environment. 

Before eating more meat than necessary as part of your daily diet, consider the harm to both the environment and your personal health. The amount of meat consumed in America is not sustainable, and eventually, a shift will have to be made.