Should People Become Vegetarian?

Humans have always eaten meat. During the earliest days of mankind, our ancestors hunted wild animals to survive. Now, everyone has a choice in what they eat. Vegetarianism (choosing not to eat meat, poultry, or seafood) is a debated topic among people of all ages. Sometimes a person won’t eat meat because they don’t feel right killing animals for food. Some choose to become vegetarian for their health, and others just don’t like the taste of meat. Many vegetarians say that a diet of vegetables, fruit, beans, carbohydrates, and plant based proteins is better for you. Meat eaters say that we have been eating animals for 2.3 million years. To really get an understanding of this diet, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

It is cruel and unethical to kill animals for food

Some Vegetarians say that it isn’t ethical (or right) to kill animals for meals when we have vegetarian options available. Animals are living, breathing beings too, and like humans, they are capable of experiencing certain emotions and forming connections with other animals. Studies have shown that pigs and chickens can experience fear, stress, and pain.

A vegetarian diet delivers complete nutrition

A vegetarian diet can provide the body with all the health benefits it needs. A vegetarian diet can meet protein requirements. Lentils and beans provide protein. It can also provide all the necessary vitamins, fats, and minerals, and can improve one’s health. Vegetarian options such as tofu and tempeh help prevent bone loss and lower cholesterol. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, eating a plant based diet can even limit our chances of getting cancer.

Vegetarianism can help solve world hunger

We use millions of kilos of grains to produce just a few kilos of beef. If we used these grains to feed humans instead of animals, we could help end world hunger for the 925 million people suffering worldwide. Research from Cornell University found that the grain used to feed US livestock alone could feed 800 million people.

Raising animals for food contributes to air and water pollution. Manure produces toxic hydrogen sulfide and ammonia which pollute the air and leach poisonous nitrates into nearby waters. The USDA estimates that livestock produces 500 million tons of manure annually—three times what humans produce. [32] Runoff laden with manure is a major cause of “dead zones” in 173,000 miles of US waterways, [32] including the 7,700-square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. [115] People living near CAFOs often have respiratory problems from hydrogen sulfide and ammonia air pollution. A peer-reviewed 2006 study of Iowa students near a CAFO found 19.7% had asthma – nearly three times the state average of 6.7%. [166

The constantly fed animals are hurting our environment

Many countries now use grains that are treated to withstand droughts, heavy rains, or even ward off other hungry animals. By treating the grains, we’re spraying dangerous chemicals into the air. Animals have been over grazing on the land, which has put many animals and plants in danger of extinction. Not eating meat would allow the land to grow back naturally.

The animals are not killed in a humane manner

Most of the animals we eat do not grow up on green pastures. They are not able to roam around freely, and they are not fed a natural diet that allows them to grow the way they should. In many countries, animals are treated very poorly. They are raised in tiny cages and they do not have room to move around. 

Cons

Eating meat is an important part of life

For 2.3 million years, humans have been eating meat. We get a lot of nutrients and protein from meat that have allowed us to develop throughout 2.3 million years of human evolution. Meat gives us essential amino acids that the body needs for growing and maintaining strong muscles. One of the biggest sources for amino acid is red meat.  

Meat is the most efficient protein source available. 

In one serving, meat provides all the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), as well as essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. [61] Most plant foods do not provide adequate levels of all the essential amino acids in a single serving.

Beef is a good way to feed humans

Raising beef is a fast way to feed a lot of people. Around the world, a lot of the land isn’t good for growing crops. Humans need both crops and meat to be able to survive, especially when a percentage of the world’s 

Eating meat provides healthy saturated fats, which enhance the function of the immune and nervous systems. 

Saturated fats contain the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, [49] and the cholesterol from saturated animal fat is needed for the proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain. According to a Feb. 7, 2014 study by researchers at the Institute of Social Medicine and Epidemiology, vegetarians “suffer significantly more often from anxiety disorder and/or depression.” [133] Low cholesterol levels have been linked to depression. Saturated fats are also essential for building and maintaining cell health, and help the body absorb calcium. [101

Modern slaughter techniques minimize the suffering of animals. US slaughterhouses must conform to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) which mandates that livestock be stunned unconscious before slaughter. [65] Many of the largest US meat producers also adhere to the handling standards developed by Dr. Temple Grandin [87] [89] which factor in animal psychology to design transportation devices, stockyards, loading ramps, and restraining systems that minimize stress and calm animals as they are led to slaughter. [88