Healthier living

A vegetarian lifestyle is better for humans and the environment


Stepping out of my bedroom in fifth grade, the blissful aroma of beef stew began to draw me to the kitchen. It was heavenly at the time. I took life-sized scoops of the stew and devoured it in a matter of seconds.

Although the feeling was comforting and sweet, I have since learned that the process of getting that beef to my table was harmful to the animals and environment around me.

I believe that everyone should reduce their meat consumption to help prevent further environmental pollution and to end the slaughtering of farm animals.

Passing by local food chains with smiling cows and happy chickens, younger me found no harm in eating these animals.

But in eighth grade, I remember I chose to do a project on animal cruelty and the meat industry. As I was searching the web, I came across videos where animals were force fed, and slaughterhouses were filled with gallons of blood.

My young middle school mindset was in shock. I was always taught that farms were happy places for animals where they could frolic and graze. I’m sure that was naive to think, but also a part of me was simply trying to avoid the hard truth.

Even after that, I continued to consume meat mainly because my Asian culture incorporates a lot of meat. However, I wasn’t as eager to eat it as I was before. Those videos haunted me, and I often wondered if my tastebuds were worth the sacrifice of an innocent animal.

Today, I can proudly say that I’m transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, which means I’m excluding all meat from my diet.

I’ve learned that meat production requires enormous amounts of water to simply grow crops for animals to eat, provide drinking water for animals and maintain clean factory farms. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more than 2,400 gallons of water are used to produce just one pound of beef.

As meat continues to be in high demand, more livestock are held in holding areas where they are left to bathe in their feces. Manure is carried through pipes to large bodies of water nearby. Their manure is filled with toxins and pathogens that can pollute the air and water.

This environmental impact is not realistic for the future of our planet. The factory emissions also produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, and global warming is at an all-time high.

Growing up eating meat and then cutting it out of my diet has been pretty difficult. It’s been a slow adjustment. I started with cutting out meat a couple days a week and avoiding fast food. Now, I’ve found healthier and more sustainable alternatives such as tofu and plant-based burgers.

If more people continue to do this, ecological footprints can be greatly reduced for the better. Investing in fresh, green foods and not spending as much money on meat can benefit individuals and the environment around them.

These may be baby steps, but they can become huge ones if everyone decides to reduce their meat intake.