The middle ground on meat consumption

Troy Wilkenson
Troy Wilkenson

The meat-obsessed American society needs to be balanced. When over 10 billion animals are killed mostly for consumption, something needs to change. I have been asked many times why I am a vegetarian, usually replying that I do not want to contribute to the environmental and inhumane aspects of meat production. Often the reply that I will receive back will be a quick and dismissive reply of, “Oh, well I could never give up meat, I just like it too much.”

Two aspects of that response grinds my gears. First of all, let’s remember what the great Justin Bieber said: “Never say Never.” Saying “I could never” is such a tremendous statement to make. When people say things like that, they are truly underestimating their capabilities as a human being. Secondly, people don’t need to give up meat entirely if they can’t perceive a world without it: just eat less of it and the environment will be better off.

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I implore all those who oppose the idea of taking a meatless life to try and find a middle ground. Meat does not need to be consumed daily, contrary to what many people think. There are substitutes for what meat provides and far too often people do not realize that,  choosing to ignore alternatives and fight changes to their diet.

The necessity isn’t that we need to cut out meat entirely. If we can find a way to do that happily and healthily we should, but for now society needs to just consume less meat. People do not really question how much meat they eat, but imagine instead the only option is no meat at all. The raising of cattle, lamb and pork have impacting environmental effects and at this point, we need to tackle every facet of human-caused environmental determinants as possible.

The reason that animal agriculture is a harm to the environment is due to fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, feed, water and other resources used to raise these animals. Per pound, a study done by the Environmental Working Group showed that lamb and beef production emits much more carbon dioxide than other foods, especially non-meat items. The production of a pound of meat emits more carbon dioxide than the production of one pound of nuts, rice, yogurt, broccoli, tofu combined … much, much more.

I’m a large advocate of “voting with your wallet”; if a consumer buys more meat, more meat will be produced. Refraining from eating meat constantly contributes to the decline of meat demand and thus less meat will be produced.

Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill wrote a piece on action against animal cruelty, which demonstrates how eating less meat will not only help the environment, but will also help prevent animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is another result of the meat industry needing to supply large amounts of meat to consumers. It is not only worse for the animals, but it is worse for the consumers because less attention is paid towards a quality product and is instead put towards producing as much meat as possible.

The amount of people on this planet demands that we will always need some form of meat as food, but as of right now we’re eating far too much. Meat is not a necessity, it is a luxury. Eating less meat will lower the amount of carbon emissions that come from agriculture, one of the world’s highest carbon emitting industries.

I again implore all those who say they cannot give up eating meat to consider reducing the amount they eat; it is not as difficult as one would think and it has more benefits than you might believe.

Collegian Columnist Troy Wilkinson is an evil mastermind plotting to destroy the world and can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @blumitts.