On the 24th of February, I made the decision to go vegetarian.
It was something that planted in my heart ever since I watched the documentary ‘Earthlings’ years ago, and while I was put off meat for some time after watching it, it wasn’t a lifestyle change. However, the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’ really made me think about my the impacts of my diet and it became clear to me that the only way to live a life that was compassionate and sustainable to the earth and it’s animals was to live meat-free.
Here are the reasons why I have adopted the plant-based lifestyle:
1. Livestock farming is the #1 contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. No one says it. No one wants to believe it. But the truth is, farming cows contributes to greenhouse gas emissions more than all forms of transport combined. Methane, which is produced by cows, is even more lethal than greenhouse gas. The amount of water it takes to feed a cow is staggeringly higher than a human’s water usage. The feed which is grown (like corn) that is then fed to the cows takes up colossal amounts of land, and even then, it takes a lot of feed to even produce one pound of beef. We are cutting down precious, literally life-giving trees in order to make room for feed and livestock, which is booming because of it’s high demand. 91% of the fields that people cut down the Amazon rainforest for is used to farm cows.
The fact that we are mowing down all of our trees to mass produce cows, which then needs a lot of food and water to maintain, is incredibly unsustainable and harmful to our environment. To reduce my carbon footprint on this earth, I’ve been cutting down my water usage, switching off lights unless necessary, recycling, walking everywhere and carpooling when I can. But no one told me that it was my diet that really needed to change. It’s a very hush-hush secret that no one wants you to know, but the day I found out about it (initially in a National Geographic article), I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Raising livestock is deadly to our planet, and even though I can’t change the world through refusing to eat meat, I know my choice will reduce my impact on this earth and will raise awareness of this issue to the people around me.
2. I believe animals also have the right to life. We use animals to our means and ends. We use them for meat, for fashion and for entertainment. Something never sat right with me when I ate meat, brought real leather or visited a zoo and it was only until recently that I understood the restlessness inside of me. In a way, using them for our personal satisfaction was to me like saying,”You’ll live when I want you to live and you’ll die when I want you to die.” Even if the animal that was being raised for meat frolicked in a field happily its whole life, it’s still going to die when we want it to die. The animal has no say over it. Call me a sentimental hippie, but that does not sit well with me anymore. I believe God gave humans leadership over animals, but I also believe God intended for us to live peacefully with them. We were not made equal, but that does not mean we have the right to dominate them in a way that harms them. For me, being vegetarian lives in harmony with that belief.
3. Animal ethics. We’d rather not think about where our meat came from or how it was killed. But when I was exposed to many graphic scenes of the process of killing an animal for meat, I couldn’t not be ruined. Chickens are confined in battery cages where there is no moving space, stacked on top of each other like sardines, and often times it is pitch black. Pigs have been known to become so crazy from their imprisonment that they start eating each others tails. And of course, cows were often separated from their calves or tasered into the chopping block. When you hear their screams or see the fear in their eyes just before they are killed, you can’t help but wonder if they also feel pain and fear just like humans do. I can’t see why not. The living conditions of these animals is quite heart-breaking, and I think I came to a point where I wasn’t okay anymore with eating an animal that was imprisoned inhumanely for my benefit.
4. Living a plant-based lifestyle is so much more healthier for you. The past few months, I have been doing 4-6 workouts a week in addition to clean eating in hopes to create a healthier, fitter body. I wanted to fall in love with my body along with my soul, but also make this lifestyle sustainable. Becoming vegetarian in the middle of it couldn’t have been more perfect to get to my health goals faster. It has forced me to focus on eating raw, clean foods derived from the earth. Contrary to popular belief, you can get all your nutrients, protein and energy from plants and vegetables alone. There is a lot of research out there reconfirming this, and from my experience, I already feel so much more lighter and healthier from cutting out meat. While lean protein like chicken, turkey and fish are good for you, red meat can be damaging to your health and has been known to increase risk of heart disease and contribute to high cholesterol. Living a plant-based lifestyle reduces those diseases all together.
5. It is a more compassionate way of living. First of all, it’s pretty compassionate on my wallet. But most of all, I find that it’s the most thoughtful way I can live my life. The past while, I have been reflecting on my life and asking myself the question, “How can I make my life as beautiful and life-giving as possible?” And being vegetarian was one way for me to do that. In Cowspiracy, the documentary maker says something along the lines of this: “The earth has given us so much, and I want to give back and let her thrive again.” It was something that was so profound to hear and I realized that I wanted to adapt that belief, too. I wanted to see the earth blossom again, and I know that taking from her in an unsustainable way was not going to do that. Excuse the following cheesy statement, but it has become so important for me to live in harmony and at peace with the earth and her animals, to help her bloom again and to reduce the damaging effects of my once thoughtless living. Allowing myself to be aware of the consequences of my decisions was the starting point of this journey, and I encourage you to become more aware, too.