Ditch meat now

Lydia Ellis, Guest Writer

Let’s all take a moment to remember why schools are closed, families and friends are separated, and people are dying daily: COVID-19. 

This disease likely stemmed from the meat industry. 

COVID-19 has been traced back to a live market in China, and it’s not the first disease that has originated this way. Tuberculosis, tapeworms, E. coli, salmonella, avian flu, swine flu, and many others have originated from livestock. 

The facts don’t lie. The meat industry is destroying our planet and us, but the power is in our hands, as we are the ones that can reject the meat industry. We get to establish our own beliefs and habits that don’t have to be the same as our parents. This generation can save our planet by embracing a plant-based diet which has the potential to repair our environment and eliminate the torture and exploitation of innocent animals. 

The meat industry is harming our planet by largely impacting climate change, water, and land usage. The meat industry is responsible for almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to a plant-based diet would directly help reduce the production of these gases and slow global warming. 

Not eating meat would also reduce the usage of land and water. Producing a single pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water, and by some estimates, if we all replaced the meat in our diets with plant foods, humans would need 42 percent less land for farming.

The meat industry also contributes to natural disasters. For example, the 2019 fires in the Amazon rainforest which burned 310,000 acres, were caused in part by deforestation to make way for soybean farms that produce the material for animal feed. Your chicken nuggets may be complicit in this disaster.

Can this generation finally question centuries of exploitation of innocent animals, which is unethical, uncivilized, and unnecessary? 

Animals are killed en masse, crammed together and confined in metal cages standing in their own waste. You are just one person, in one family, eating one burger, but think about how much meat is demanded by Americans. “Nine billion cows, calves, pigs, lambs, turkeys, and chickens that are slaughtered a year in the United States” says Jane Velez-Mitchell. Imagine how many more are slaughtered worldwide with a global population of 7.8 billion people. 

Here’s another thing your family may not have told you about the burger that you bit into last week. These animals that are kept in slaughterhouses only know concrete floors and metal bars and conditions that are repulsive and uncivilized. Horrifying practices are performed on the animals in the meat industry such as removing their horns, beaks, and tails. 

As the generation most impacted by Covid-19, we also have to worry about other diseases like E. coli or Salmonella that also originated from livestock. If you don’t want to go through this again, a plant-based diet is the safest solution. 

Some argue that eating healthier, more sustainably-raised meat is better than current factory farm practices. Many people convince themselves that consuming meat from animals that are grass-fed or living in better conditions is just as beneficial for the planet as switching to a plant-based diet. This is just not true. While their treatment may be more humane and their impact on the ecosphere less detrimental, animals are still being used and disposed of at astronomic rates for human consumption, not to mention continuing to devastate the environment. 

I just became a vegetarian myself two years ago, but I wish I had known all of this sooner. I regret not realizing how my eating habits were impacting the planet and I am sad that I didn’t connect the dots sooner between what was on my plate and who had to suffer and die for it to get there. Having someone to tell me about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle when I was younger would have made a big difference. Our generation has the power to ditch meat for good.