I’ve touched on this topic a bit in my bio, but I thought I would elaborate a little more. I’ve been asked why I don’t eat meat countless times, whether it was directly or indirectly, so I thought I would address it in a blog post; that way I can refer anyone to it next time they ask haha 😉
I totally understand where people are coming from when they ask me why I don’t eat meat. I would have asked myself the same thing 5 years ago. I would have thought I was crazy! (sometimes I still do…)
One thing I want to get across before I get into this post is this:
I don’t, by any means, expect or want you to become vegetarian or vegan. That is not the aim of this post.
This is a personal choice I made and it is one that makes me feel good. Everybody is different and what works for one, may not work for all.
I do however, want you to think differently about meat and your consumption of it.
If you can make a few small habit changes around meat, you will make an ENORMOUS impact on your health, the environment and animal welfare.
Please make sure to read right to the end as I have a small favour to ask of you. This small favour could make a significant change in animal welfare right here in Ontario and across Canada.
Why I Switched to a Plant-based Diet
1. Animal Welfare
Let’s just say I watched too many Netflix documentaries, and now there is no turning back. Once you see what goes on behind the scenes, there is no way you can un-see it.
I could go into presenting you with evidence to support the excessive abuse and neglect of animals, but it is really sad and I honestly don’t even want to imagine it.
We wouldn’t turn a blind eye if someone locked their dog in the car on a hot sunny day, so why would we pretend that it’s ok to abuse, neglect and slaughter massive amounts of helpless animals everyday?
Ok that was kind of harsh, but animals are animals. How can you eat one and cuddle another? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Animals are completely helpless and have no way of communicating with us. Why would we take advantage of that?
I think humanity has come a long way and we now have the resources available to no longer eat animal products at the scale we do to maintain our health. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean we need to consume it.
If everyone switched to eating meat only once or twice a week, the results would be tremendous. We wouldn’t have to breed so many animals and therefore the ones we did would have a better quality of life. Not to mention the huge implications this would have on the environment, which I will get into next.
So if you think changing your diet isn’t going to make a difference, you’re wrong. A vegetarian saves on average 1 animal a day and around 400 animals/year by some estimates. [Source]
If there is one thing you can take away from this post I hope it is this last point: The next time you decide to purchase meat from your grocery store, please think about how it got there and what had to happen for it to get to your table.
Remember, you are voting for what you want to see more of with every dollar you spend.
2. Environmental Impact
They describe the environmental effects of raising massive amounts of livestock for consumption. I was shocked to find out that we are depleting our planet of its resources not for human consumption, but for livestock consumption! And, I suppose by default, this is ultimately for human consumption, but I digress. We eat 56 billion animals annually – that is a lot of animals to feed!
The results on the environment from farming animals at this scale include, but are not limited to: increases in deforestation to house animals, increased grain and crop farming to feed the animals, increased water consumption for irrigation and animal consumption, increased green house gas emissions from animal waste, people from poorer countries starving because most of the grains and plants are used to feed livestock that is then sold to richer countries, and the list goes on.
Another great documentary that talks about meat consumption as well as other factors that affect climate change is called Before the Flood by Leonardo Dicaprio. This one is a must watch!
Now you may be thinking that I am being pretty biased in what I am presenting and you have a point. However, so far I haven’t found any evidence against any of these points (to be fair, I haven’t looked :|).
But just think about it for a minute – when was the last time you heard a report stating: “large-scale farming doesn’t have implications on the environment”… one that wasn’t written or funded by the dairy or farming industry? If you find any, please share!
Now onto my last point…
3. Health Reasons
This one is where I will likely get the most backlash. You probably have questions like “but don’t we need high quality protein in our diets to be healthy?” And “isn’t the best place to get that from meat, dairy or fish?” “I thought your body couldn’t use plant protein as efficiently?”
I had these questions too, and I still sometimes ask them. There is new research coming out everyday around protein and it is one hot nutrition topic lately!
So here is what I have found from my research that makes sense to me. You don’t need to agree with it!
We definitely need protein in our diets to survive as humans. Proteins are made up of amino acids, some essential, some not. The essential amino acids are the ones that our bodies can’t make and therefore we need to get them from a food source.
Yes, animal products are the best source of protein and they contain all the essential amino acids. However, plants also contain all of the amino acids in combination with each other.
If you consider high quality protein = most efficient consumption of all amino acids then yes, animal protein is going to be high quality protein. However, efficiency doesn’t necessarily translate to being the healthiest thing for our bodies. Our bodies have very complex processes that are really good at pulling out proteins from all sources and putting them together to get what it needs.
So my point here is that we don’t need to be consuming tons of protein, and we don’t necessarily need to be getting it from animal protein. Our bodies can do just fine with plant-based protein, and almost all plants have protein. So don’t stress so much about the quality and the amount of protein you’re getting, the average person consumes more than enough!
So why might eating a lot of animal products not be the best thing for your health?
You are what you eat.
Do you know where you food came from? Do you know what was fed to that animal? How it was treated? What antibiotics or hormones were used? What it’s life was like?
If you answered no to at least one of those questions, you might want to take a deeper look into where your food is coming from. With more and more chronic diseases popping up and a lot of them going back to what we eat, it’s important to make the connection that our food may well be the thing that’s going to kill us.
Check out these two Netflix documentaries to get a better understanding of what animal products are really doing to our health: Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Another great resource is the book “The China Study”. I am reading it right now 🙂
Like I said before, I am not against eating meat, but what I do want you to take away from this is to start thinking about where your meat is coming from. If you are eating unhappy, unhealthy animals, guess what? That is going to get passed on to you.
So my final point is:
Buy from local, organic farmers that you know and trust. Eat mostly plant-based and use meat more as a condiment rather than the focal point of your dish.
Wait don’t go yet!
I Have One Small Favour From You…
Please join me in writing a letter to your MPP to change the laws around animal abuse and neglect in Ontario.
With the provincial election coming up in June 2018, it is the perfect time to tell the candidates that animal laws are important to you in this election.
The following is a list of the current MPPs. A quick internet search will bring up the other candidates in your area who are running in the election.
The following is an example of an email to send the MPP you so choose. Feel free to use the one below or create your own.
Subject: I Am Ready
Animals are abandoned, abused, neglected, experimented on and exploited in so many ways, but our existing laws are powerless to help. Our MPPs really need to take a stand and put a stop to treating animals like property. Animals need to be classified as living beings, not property. Laws change when society is ready for the change. I am ready. Please help end the exploitation of all animals by using your influence to change the laws. #IAMREADY
What will you do to change the laws for animals if you are elected?