Three reasons why we eat meat?
- Habit / Enjoyment
Three reasons why we should avoid meat?
Now before you read any further just re-read the above a few times and let those ideas sink in, think about them and just contemplate them for a couple of minutes, understanding the importance of each reason either good or bad.
Now I’m NOT writing this article to come across all sanctimonious and preach the virtues of eating a plant based diet and sound like some religious nut, I’m writing this article to discuss the issues, conundrums and confusion that has surrounded my decision and now ongoing journey into living a plant based diet from being an avid meat eater.
Now about 2 months ago, I was quite happily living on a diet of natural whole foods which included all animal products from ethical sources as and when I could afford it, I would devour an amazingly tasty organic ribeye steak when I could but would also buy cheaper cuts of bacon and mince when money was tight.
As this year has gone on I have felt myself evolving and wanting to become much more mindful of my meat consumption and actually that mindfulness was filtering through all the food I ate and it’s origins.
Protein Protein Protein
I was also beginning to realise that as an avid fitness and follower of a bodybuilding lifestyle over the past 16 years how obsessive I had become at ensuring animal protein was present at every meal to make it feel complete and almost felt enslaved by this need for meat and the anxiety of having to make sure I had a fridge full of it.
Of course because if I didn’t have animal protein my body would miss out on essential amino acids for growth and repair and god forbid if I should lose some muscle or slow down my metabolism!
Then there was the obvious deficiencies and potential health issues that could arise should I miss out on my daily consumption of flesh and anyway aren’t we all hunter gatherers and built to consume flesh just as our ancestors did?
Science v Compassion
Now as far as I’m concerned the decision whether to start eating a plant based diet and removing animal products has consisted of the two following arguments.
What actually is the nutritional science of animal or plant base diets? Which one is truly better for our health? As with all nutritional science or science in general, you have biased and unbiased research and points of view from both camps, so who is telling the truth and who do you believe?
All the above worries about eating a purely plant based diet are true but only if you do not understand and plan your new eating regime properly, making sure potential nutrient deficiencies are avoided by including a wide range of plant based food groups, after all just removing meat does not make you healthy, doughnuts, fizzy drinks and sugar still exist whether you eat animals or not.
There is an equal amount of information to say eating meat, especially poorly reared, unethically produced animal products could cause all kinds of diseases.
So taking on board the above facts and understanding that a well planned plant based diet can meet all your nutrient requirements, what scientific arguments are we left with?
In my mind we can argue until we are blue in the face about science in general, the pros and cons, science is continually proven wrong as the human race evolves anyway,the one fact that is 100% undeniable is that another living and breathing being, that has every right to inhabit this earth as much as we do, needs to be intentionally bred, fed and raised with one goal in mind, to be either killed or kept alive against its will to supply us with food.
You can go on about humane or inhumane killing all you like, let’s face it, if they could answer you, I’m sure they’d prefer to be allowed to live, who gave us that right to make that decision anyway?
But We Are Hunter Gatherers!
The Paleolithic Era was about 2-2.5 million years ago, when there were more animals on this planet than human beings, land and resources was plentiful, the need to survive by any means possible was probably a daily chore and modern human intelligence, language and consciousness didn’t even exist, so yes we had every right to hunt and kill animals to live from and survive, it was kill or be killed I am sure, but it is not that way now.
We not only have the knowledge, resources and freedom to make other conscious choices about the way we choose to live now, we are also approaching a time when we may not actually have a choice, the future of our own existence may be determined by the demands we are placing on the resources of our planet, we don’t have anywhere else to go to, this is it!
We currently produce enough food (plant based food) to feed 12 billion people on this planet and our current population sits at around 7 billion…let that fact sink in.
Where does the other 5 billion peoples food go, yes that’s right, to feed the animals that we are intensively farming to keep up with the demand of people’s meat eating habits.
Let me spell it out in simple terms:
- There’s millions of people starving.
- There’s millions of animals being slaughtered and tortured.
- The biggest pollutant, degradation and risk to the Eco-systems on our planet is the animal agriculture industry.
Does that all make sense to you? if the light bulb still hasn’t gone off for you let me give you some more information.
Here’s a basic overview of the increase in population over the last few centuries:
- 8000 B.C – 5 Million
- 1800 – 1 Billion
- 1930 – 2 Billion – 130 years
- 1959 – 3 Billion – 29 years
- 1974 – 4 Billion – 15 years
- 1987 – 5 Billion – 13 years
- 1999 – 6 Billion – 12 years
- 2012 – 7 Billion – 13 years
- 2024 – 8 Billion – United Nations Estimate
- 2050 – 10 Billion
Imagine a world with an additional 3 billion mouths to feed, all with an intense appetite to consume meat and animal products, taking into account the current environmental strain that our planet is under largely due to the pollution from animal agriculture, then imagine the space needed from to which to farm these animals and the conditions they’d need to be farmed in.
Say goodbye to rain forests, jungles, all natural habitat and to life in the oceans and say hello to a world full of pollution, death and torture of animals on a scale even worse than we currently have.
Open Your Eyes
Before we even go into the cruelty that exists in the way we farm, manufacture and kill animals just look at the facts, the nutritional science, the environmental problems and the undeniable population increase, those alone are good enough reasons for you to think less selfishly about eating meat and the effect that demand is placing on our planet.
But if you’re still not convinced by these arguments I encourage you to watch these 3 films and documentaries below, at the very least we all owe it to the animals we happily farm, kill, cook and eat to honestly educate ourselves on what really goes on, you can only make an informed choice once you have all the information.
– http://cowspiracy.com/ – Environmental and Ethical Viewpoint, will open your eyes.
2. The Best Speech Ever
– watch speech… – Gary Yourofsky a vegan and animal activists gives an incredibly factual and hard hitting speech to re-connect you with animals. This will really open your eyes, your mind and may even make you cry, it did to me.
– watch documentary… – This documentary will shock you, break you and leave you in shear disbelief at the suffering and torture your habits are part of, this will make you cry and you may make you never eat an animal again.
It’s not good enough anymore to just say ‘I don’t want to watch these films because I don’t want to have to give up meat’ or ‘how will I recover and put muscle mass onto my body without eating meat’, sound like you? sound selfish to you? Don’t you owe it to the animals you eat to at least say thanks?
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
We can all make a difference to the world and we can all live a healthy if not healthier life by adopting new nutritional habits that don’t contain animal products.
I have been a Pescatarian for the last 6 weeks eating fish and dairy 3 times a week and have now transitioned to a Vegetarian diet eating a Vegan diet whenever I possibly can, in essence I’m shooting for Vegan but at the moment won’t beat myself up if I happen to eat some kind of product with dairy or eggs in although I am consciously trying to eat without.
It’s really important that you realise that you don’t have to go from avid steak eater to vegan all in one go, that’s just crazy and unsustainable just like any new nutritional goal or habit, you must ‘lean’ into it, as many of your lifelong habits and belief systems relate to food and it can be a trying and testing time making the transition, so make it simple and seamless as possible.
Progress Not Perfection
The journey for me has only just begun and I am having to relearn my own beliefs on food, ethics and nutritional science, that I have long held and offered many people advice on, but I am willing to evolve and change if the reason for doing so makes sense and if my old habits no longer fit in with the new insights and knowledge that I have and the harrowing images I’ve seen.
Before making any decision I always ask myself…
‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’
…there is no longer an argument in my mind.
In Part 2 – Planning a Plant Based Diet
I will discuss the potential deficiencies of a badly planned plant based diet and the relevant plant based food groups needed to avoid them for optimal health.