If you don’t like meat, it’s so easy to become a vegetarian. The view of colorful fruits and vegetables is pure joy for you and you cannot wait to turn them into delicious, healthy, and colorful dishes. Every single bit is a sensation.
But when you love meat, it is different. Not eating meat becomes challenging as it is hard to give up something that you love. I often hear things like „I’m not getting full without meat“, „Vegetables are rabbit food“ or simply „Meat, hmmmmmmmmm!“. On the other hand, a lot of people complain about health issues like diabetes and overweight and want to change nourishment to improve their life quality.
But how to do it? How to start? If you are thinking of changing your nourishment you should start with little steps. It is great to set big goals, but when reaching them cost you too much effort, you will finally give up. Start with only 1 vegetarian meal a week. Make it a habit, it should be always the same day in the week. In the next step, try to eat vegetarian dishes one whole day per week. Then you can slowly increase the number of meals and days until you reach your final goal.
Check out vegetarian food blogs and youtube videos for getting new inspiration for your veggie days. Discover the vegetables in the supermarkets and markets, and don’t hesitate to try new things! You will see, your culinary horizon will widen, you will get to know new ingredients and flavors and you will experience new taste sensations that have been unknown to you so far.
Still skeptical? The next good massage is you don’t need to give up meat completely. Even if you only reduce meat intake, you will benefit.
Moreover, I will give you 10 good reasons that will convince you to eat more vegetarian food.
1. Reason: It’s Cheaper
Depending on where you live, you might think I’m wrong when I claim that vegetarian food is cheaper than a meat-based diet. In Morocco it is pretty obvious 1 kg of beef costs about 90 Dhs, 1 kg of potatoes and other vegetables about 5 Dhs, 1 kg dried chickpeas about 20 Dhs. In Germany on the other side, you can buy a whole chicken for about 3,50 €, fresh tomatoes are available from about 2,00€ per kg. But when you buy organic quality meat, the price will attach abruptly to about 12,00 € per kg whole chicken.
What you can see in this example is, that good quality meat is much more expensive than vegetables of high quality. Moreover, vegetable prices are not constant around the year. When you get used to buying seasonal products, you can save money. Combine your veggies with legumes and grains and avoid fancy products from the other end of the world. I’m sure you will realize how affordable a healthy plant-based diet can be!
2. Reason: Saving Water
There are countries which are blessed with water and on the other hand, there are countries that are struggling with the water supply. Meat belongs to the foods for which production a lot of water is required. Especially for dry regions, meat production is a problem. If there is not enough rainwater for the production, groundwater has to be used instead. This means less drinking water for the people and also less water for plant-based agriculture. In the following table you can see the global average water footprint of selectet products.
|Product||Global Average Water Footprint|
|bread (wheat bread)||1608 litre/kg|
|chicken meat||4325 litre/kg|
|coffee||132 litre/125 ml|
|eggs||196 litre for a 60-gram egg|
|goat meet||5521 litre/kg|
|milk||255 litre/250 ml|
|pasta dry||1849 litre/kg|
|sheep meat||10412 litre/kg|
|sugar (from sugar beet)||920 litre/kg|
3. Reason: Health Benefits
A plant-based diet, which consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes, is rich in fiber and other nutrients. Vegetarians generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do. Research shows that people who eat red meat regularly are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke or diabetes. If your diet is meat-based and moreover low in nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables you increase the risk of health issues even more as you will have a lack of important nourishments that are contained in these products.
4. Reason: Reducing Environmental Pollution
The huge number of animals produce an incredible amount of manure every single day. Manure is an excellent fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients that are important for the growth of plants. It also adds organic matter to the soil which may improve soil structure, aeration, soil moisture-holding capacity, and water infiltration. The problem is that large industrial farms bring in massive quantities of nutrients in the form of concentrate feed. Far more waste is produced than can be recycled as a fertilizer and absorbed on nearby land.
When intensive livestock operations are crowded together, pollution can threaten the quality of the soil, water, air, biodiversity and ultimately public health. Pollution damage is especially harmful when large numbers of animals are concentrated in sensitive areas around cities or close to water resources. Effluents are commonly discharged into the environment or stored in vast “lagoons”, from which waste may spill or leak into nearby streams and groundwater supplies. Noxious gases escape into the atmosphere, subjecting downwind neighbors to sickening odors and contributing to atmospheric aerosol formation, the build-up of greenhouse gases and acid rain.
5.Reason: More Food for Everyone
According to the UN, about 800 million people in the world are starving. The reasons for hunger are, of course, diverse. Wars, environmental disasters. bad distribution of food, and poverty are only a few examples. But one of the reasons is also the massive consumption of meat worldwide. Agricultural land is used to plant animal-feed instead of food for humans. Moreover, all the areas on which stables and pastures are located cannot be used for plant-based food production.
6. Reason: Reducing Deforestation
Forests are important for the ecological balance of our planet. They provide habitat to different plants and animals. The trees prevent soil erosion and decay of plants or its parts replenish the soil with nutrients. Forests maintain a proper balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the environment and have an important ecological function in fixing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Industrial agriculture, along with subsistence agriculture, is the most significant driver of deforestation in tropical and subtropical countries, accounting for 80% of deforestation from 2000-2010. The current contribution of agriculture to deforestation varies by region, with industrial agriculture being responsible for 30% of deforestation in Africa and Asia, but close to 70% in Latin America.
The most significant agricultural drivers of deforestation include soy, palm oil, and cattle ranching. Now some of you might say soy and palm oil are vegetarian products. That‘s true. Palm oil is a product that is contained in almost all types of industrial products including beverages, snacks, cleaning products, makeup products, etc. If you want to live (more) ecologically you should avoid these products, even if they are vegetarian. But when you say that eating tofu destroys the forests of our world you are only partly true. Soy is not only used for tofu production but also, if not predominantly, for animal feed production.
7. Reason: Industrial Meat – a Source of Antibiotic Resistances
In industrial meat production, a lot of animals live in a small space. These conditions are perfect for germs to multiply. To avoid epidemics among the animals, antibiotics are used preventively. The problem is, that germs through constant use of antibiotics, develop resistance. That means that the antibiotics will become ineffective with time and we will have to deal with a growing number of invincible pathogens. With the manure, antibiotics residues can even get into the groundwater.
8. Reason: Reducing Animal Cruelty
Intensive animal farming and animal cruelty are closely linked. Factory farms are pro-profit institutions. They are aiming for maximizing production while minimizing costs. Therefore, animals are forced to live in conditions that are contrary to their natural way of life. As the list of the abusement of animals in this economic system is quite extensive, I will give you only a few examples to explain the problem to you.
Many animals lead a life without daylight and fresh air and without having space to move. The animals cannot live in their natural social structures and develop behavioral abnormalities like self-injuries. Therefore, cows are getting sometimes dehorned and chickens debeaked.
Cows on dairy farms are repeatedly artificially impregnated (to keep their milk flowing) and then traumatically separated from their newborn calves until finally their bodies wear out and they are sent to be slaughtered.
The so-called „chicken culling“ is a cruel method to get rid of „useless“ newly hatched chicks.
The shift in consumer habit from eating whole chickens to chicken parts has encouraged the industry to raise birds with thicker breasts, fatter wings, and chubbier drumsticks. Skeletal problems, especially in the legs, are common among these birds, and many die from ascites, a disease thought to be caused by the inability of birds’ hearts and lungs to keep up with their rapid skeletal growth.
This is only a very superficial view of the sufferings of the animals caused by intensive animal farming. How can intensive animal farming be stopped? It’s quite easy. Don’t buy the products that are produced by intensive animal farming! Buy local products from trustworthy farmers instead. It’s the customer’s money that keeps this cruel industry alive!
9. Reason: Saving Fish Stocks
Often I hear people proudly announcing „I will reduce eating meat and will eat more fish instead“. From the health point of view, it is a praiseworthy resolution. Fish has more health benefits than meat and contains a lot of important nutrients. It is also a source of high-quality proteins. The problem is, that fish stock is a limited, precious resource, that has to be treated with wisdom and sense. What is happening nowadays is that fish are caught faster than stocks can replenish. Huge industrial vessels are fishing the oceans empty.
The number of overfished stocks globally has tripled in half a century. Overfishing is closely tied to bycatch, the capture of unwanted sea life while fishing for a different species. This, too, is a serious marine threat that causes the needless loss of billions of fish, along with hundreds of thousands of sea turtles and cetaceans.
But overfishing causes not only damage to the environment. Billions of people rely on fish for protein, and fishing is the principal livelihood for millions of people around the world.
Overfishing deprives them of their basis of existence.
10. Reason: Better Quality Food
Let’s be honest. Affordable meat is affordable because we accept the horrible circumstances under which it is produced. If you buy organic meat, you will most probably realize, that its price is much higher. Then why not produce all the meat organic? Basically, it is a nice idea. Happy cows grazing on meadows, happy chicken picking in the ground. But organic farming produces less meat. There are fewer animals on more ground and also it takes more time until the animals are ready to be turned into meat. Currently, the world’s population is more than 7 billion (7000000000) people. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 335 million tons of meat have been produced in 2018. These masses of meat cannot be produced ecologically. And the world’s population is still growing. So is the demand for meat.
What can be done? A lot of people ask themselves this question. One of the answers is Lab-Grown Meat, which is meat grown in a laboratory from cultured cells without killing and harming animals. On one side it sounds seductive, right? Eating as much meat as you like without animal cruelty and less environmental pollution. But be honest with yourself. Do you want to eat a steak that has been grown from any cells by scientists in laboratory-like farms?
Have you ever heard of food scandals? BSE beef, horse meat declared as beef, dioxin in eggs, smuggled meat from 1970, listeria in sausage, listeria in cheese and many more. What you can see is that those scandals not always but often concern animal products. Vegetables can be contaminated with pesticides, which is bad, but at least you can wash them and peel them.
Isn’t it better to reduce the consumption of meat and to eat a really good piece instead?
Eating animal products is part of most human cultures. Basically, there is no issue in consuming them. The problem is, that the agricultural food production has turned into an industrial mass production that simply works for maximizing profit. The respect for the creatures as well as for the environment and the consumer has completely disappeared. The catching of sea food causes also a lot of demage to the environment and is therefore no alternative for meat. To break the vicious circle of destruction and waste of resources, we all must question our eating habits critically.
Eating vegetarian food is a possibility to initiate a change. Production of meat claims a lot of resources and has a lot of disadvantages. Animal products are precious and special food which should be eaten only from time to time. Cheap meat destroys our environment and our health. If you cannot live without meat, invest the money you save with vegetarian nutrition in a good quality piece of meat. This is healthier for the planet, the animals and especially for YOU!