Table of contents
- Why follow plant based diet?
- Meat based diet
- Problems of meat based diets
- Meat based diet has its own pros
A plant-based diet is composed of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. It is highly encouraged by the government and health organizations because it can have a positive impact on animal welfare as well as climate change. Plant-based diets are also known to have numerous nutrients and minerals which are known to do wonders physically and mentally for the human body. The population is growing rapidly thus the consumption of food and resources has been increasing at an alarming rate. This increase puts immense pressure on our limited croplands, freshwater and energy resources. This is a huge concern and a driving force for many to shift to a more plant-based diet.
Why follow plant based diet?
A healthy plant-based diet consists of nutrient-dense plant foods and limited processed foods, oils and animal foods. Numerous studies prove that a plant-based diet is highly effective for weight loss. People following plant-based diets are more likely to have lower rates of heart diseases, high blood pressure as well as type 2 diabetes. A study shows that the non-vegetarian diet required 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizers and 1.4 times more preservatives than the vegetarian diet. The non-vegetarian diet exacts a higher cost on the environment relative to a vegetarian’s diet.
Meat based diet
A meat-based diet is mainly composed of beef, lamb, chicken etc. it is very popular due to various reasons. It is considered tastier by many and is cheaper than a plant-based diet. As it is cheaper, it has a wide reach of consumers from all income levels. Meat-based diets are a good source of protein. Protein is important for growth and cell repair thus the intake of protein is hugely important.
Problems of meat based diets
Red meat can be a possible source of colorectal cancer. Consuming red meat increases colorectal cancer by more than 20 to 30%. More than half of colorectal cancer occur in developed countries where meat is a major part of the diet. Additionally, it also increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, breast cancer as well as prostate cancer. A meat-based diet is also linked with early death, type 2 diabetes as well as an increased probability of heart diseases and strokes. Meat-based diets require cattle farming, poultry farming etc. Animal farming for consumption results in the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide as well as methane. The emission per unit of energy of animal-based diets is higher compared to a plant-based diet. Within types of meat, ruminant production releases more emissions than non-ruminant thus poultry farming has fewer emissions then mammals.
Our modern agriculture practices are very water-intensive. Livestock alone consumes a third of the total water consumption which is used in agriculture. Our freshwater reserves are depleting very fast thus modern agriculture results in wastage of this precious resource. We are already seeing water shortages in countries like India, Pakistan as well as South Africa and many more Asian and African countries. Utilization of water is extremely important thus modern agriculture especially livestock should be much less water-intensive for being sustainable in the near future. Livestock farming is known to destroy many habitats and ecosystems. Forests are cut down for making green fields for grazing. Trees are the lungs of our planet thus cutting down trees makes as much more vulnerable to climate change and global warming. Destruction of ecosystems is also resulting in an increased rate of extinction in the animal kingdom. Animals being extinct effects the food chain inversely. This is mainly due to the fact that the chain is broken thus there will be an increased population of certain species as there are fewer and fewer predators of that species. This will be extremely harmful to us in the near future especially in the field of agriculture and fisheries.
Meat based diet has its own pros
I believe a plant-based diet is not the future. Yes, it does have numerous environmental and health benefits, we cannot disregard the benefits the meat-based diets bring to the table. A meat-based diet is a great source of protein and iron. Consumption of protein is essential for growth and cell repair thus people who consume less protein have their own health risks. Plant-based diets are known to be lacking in protein thus it is not as perfect as it was assumed before. Iron is essential for humans as it maintains energy levels in the body. A diet lack of iron will reduce hemoglobin in the body which will result in a lack of energy, shortness of breath and headache. Meat-based diets boost metabolism as well as enhance brain health. Meat-based diet tends to be much cheaper thus disregarding it is not a wise option completely is not a wise option in the first place.
I believe anything in moderation is not bad. People should eat a diet which contains both meat and plants. Meat should not be over consumed nor under-consumed, a balance between the overconsumption and under consumption hugely important. Plant-based meat are becoming popular these days! Incorporating plant-based meat in our diets should be encouraged and widely adopted in all regions of the world. Shifting our focus to eating more chicken then red meat is important for both the environment as well as the body. Chicken provides protein and unlike red meat, it has very low-fat content. Chicken also produces much much fewer emissions compared to red meat. I think both plant and meat-based diets are important for a person to be healthy and happy. The environmental impacts of a meat-based diet can greatly be reduced with new technology and much more efficiencies in the production process. The plant is certainly not the future, our future includes the consumption of both plants, meat, and knowledge about our carbon footprint as well as climate change in order to make the most appropriate choices in our diet!