by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha
We are proud vegetarians. To us, it is beyond imagination how people are non-vegetarian after knowing the devastating impacts it has. However, we understand that it is a challenge to wean off the food that makes people’s taste buds rejoice. We write this article with the best intentions, just to help others understand the impact that they are having so that they can then make an educated decision on whether they would want to switch or remain. We encourage those who are non-vegetarian to make the switch for all the below mentioned reasons. Trust us, vegetarian food is as good and by the simple task of not eating meat, you are making an immensely positive difference to the planet. It is important to understand that the meal is coming at the cost of something and it’s for YOU to decide whether you want to pay that price.
Why are you killing plants? This is a question that we as vegetarians are always asked. It’s like the bullet for the non-vegetarians, every time an argument about the matter strikes. It is assumed that this is an intellectual question, however, there are several reasons why this argument is completely invalid. The reasons are plenty, some of them being that animal and plant life are starkly different and have different purposes. Animals have the right to mortality, and therefore are equipped with defense mechanisms and mobility to keep them alive. Plants on the other hand, do not have these powers, but instead are allowed to bloom, bear fruit and grow. Therefore, even when we take a leaf or fruit, it’s called plucking, not beheading, since a new fruit will take the place of the old. These differences in nature, just show their purpose. Some animals are food for others, who aren’t able to digest plants and require meat, but humans are not part of this category, we survive perfectly well on simple plants and their gifts. Additionally, by eating and consuming plants, you’re supporting life and biodiversity. The way the food chain works is that plants are eaten by animals which are food to other animals, them being the seed to all living things. Humans are not meant to be on top of that food chain, we have throned ourselves and forced every other creature into submission. One of the biggest misconceptions is that by eating meat, non-vegetarians are keeping the balance. The meat consumed by most is a product of “industrial meat”, which is produced in factories, where animals are being specifically bred to be slaughtered. So, there goes “creating” balance. Moreover, the matter of pain and the nervous system. While it is well known that animals, including humans are aware of pain and have a central nervous system, plant’s do not. When killing animals, pain is caused to them, whereas, when eating plants, there is not pain felt by them. Lastly, the meaning of “killing” must be identified, killing means putting an absolute end to something. When eating animals, they are being killed, since it’s the end of their life. However, when it comes to plants, we end up consuming small parts of each plant, either the leaf or the fruit and rarely the root. Therefore, the root continues to support new life and will bear new fruit, therefore, this is not classified as killing. Lastly, non-vegetarians if they stop eating meat, they have other means of survival in terms of food. What will vegetarians turn to, without plants? These are the reasons that the argument of comparing plants and animals is just a desperate attempt for non-vegetarians to make their eating habits more comparable to that of vegetarians.
Then we come to the basic arguments of why eating non-vegetarian needs to be changed. Before their death, to be put on someone else’s plate, these animals are treated with cruelty that is hard for anyone to imagine. Crammed into cages with thousands of other animals, they are often not given food, and proper hygiene since these cages are not cleaned at all. Rarely will a meat-eater look down at the piece of beef on their plate and think, how did this animal come here? What did it have to go through? And this is where the problem stems from. There is a lack of empathy, most non-vegetarians forget that they are eating another living creature that has now been killed just for them to enjoy. Another indirect benefit is dampening world hunger to some extent. The kilos of crops that go towards fattening animals so that humans can eat them, this food can save so many malnourished human beings who die of starvation each day. If everyone was vegetarian, we would need 75% less land for farming than we do today, and feed everybody. Being vegetarian has effects that go beyond one’s imagination. In terms of personal benefit, unlike public understanding, being vegetarian and vegan is great for the cardiovascular system and health, with red meat especially, being a risk for cholesterol related diseases. One of the biggest misconceptions is that by eating meat, non-vegetarians are keeping the balance. The meat consumed by most is a product of “industrial meat”, which is produced in factories, where animals are being specifically bred to be slaughtered. So, there goes “creating” balance.
Believe it or not, non-vegetarianism also causes deforestation, in which large masses of forests are razed just to accommodate these animals which are being bred to be killed, and to grow crops to feed these large amounts of animals, it is the biggest cause of forest fires. In order to produce industrial meats and for crops and space, people are deliberately starting forest fires and killing so many animals in the process. So, when you’re eating a piece of meat, you are not only responsible for the death of that soul, but so many others. It is destroying wildlife. With the gatherment of so many animals which are kept in filthy conditions to be killed, the risk of infections and diseases such as Corona virus also increases by large numbers. Additionally, it uses up immense amounts of water, almost 50% of the water used in the U.S. goes towards this. With there already being preditcation for water shortage, is it worth it, just for the “good” taste of meat? It releases carbon dioxide emissions and utilises a ton of fossil fuels. Making one hamburger, uses the same amount of fossil fuels as driving a car 20 miles. Pig factories generate the same amount of raw waste as a 12,000 person city. Is a non-vegetarian’s luxury more important than the environment? The answer is simply no. So, everytime there is meat on your plate, not only are you destroying forest, killing more than 1 animal, promoting torture but also causing the destruction of our environemnt.
The demand for fish increases everyday. With this increases the inhumane ways in which fish are killed and served to us in fancy restaurants. Overfishing is a problem that impacts not only the sea but the balance of the entire ecosystem. When too many fish are taken out of their habitats, there is an imbalance in the food cycle which leads to a loss of many vulnerable species. To get the desired fish killed there are many species who also are on the receiving end of the fish poles. This is called bycatch. The UN estimated that between 20-25% of all sea creatures that are caught in the massive nets are the victims of bycatch. Many fish companies have the tag of dolphin-safe which means that no dolphins were harmed when these fishes were killed. However, according to the World Wildlife Fund upto 300,000 small whales, and dolphins get entangled and are killed during by-catch. As we can see the process we receive these fish to eat is not safe and neither is eating these fish. The most common industrial toxin in the sea is mercury which is deposited through many runoffs and emissions. These lead to toxicity in the oceans and affect marine life. Another impact of the toxins in the sea is plastic poisoning which fish ingest as food. With bioaccumulation, substances such as mercury are absorbed into the larger organism much faster than the smaller ones. In the case of fish, humans are the larger organisms. Mercury poisoning can lead to harmful effects on a human body’s nervous, digestive and immune systems. After all these negatives, we haven’t even tackled the biggest impact of fishing on our world. After watching the documentary, “Seaspiracy” on Netflix we found out that the majority of all the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch were fishing gear such as nets and poles. As we can see, fishing and eating fish has been harmful to the humans eating them, to the sea, to animals such as dolphins who aren’t eating, and even the environment. Is the taste of fish really worth all the negatives that come along with it? There are plant based seafood products on the market that look and taste like seafood. Why can’t we eat these instead?
This article is written by two vegetarians but we do understand how hard it may be for people to leave some of their favourite foods. However, after seeing the implications and impacts that the killing and the consumption have on us as well as our Earth, everyone should try to limit if not stop their consumption of these products. The advantages of being vegetarian go beyond just not killing animals but it extends to limiting the impact we leave on our ecosystem. Animals are bred to be killed and eaten. No amount of taste and deliciousness is worth another life. Fishes and even other animals living in the sea are killed in bycatch for only consumption. Just imagine if you were in an animal’s place, who was being eaten to satisfy the tastes of a “superior power” in the food chain. This just proves that humans have an impact on each and every problem of this world. There might not be one day where everyone stops eating meat and fish. However, with a few small realizations and changes, there can be change. There are alternatives and there are substitutes only if one is looking for it. So, look out for it, and make a difference.