BY MELODI GAUS
Team Vegetarian, Team Vegan or Team Carnivore.
About five percent of the United States population considers themselves to be vegetarian or vegan and markets cater increasingly more to a vegan marketplace as compared to years past.
While this does not represent a large percent of the population, the numbers of vegetarians and vegans in America are increasing.
People who are vegetarian or vegan have mentioned two main reasons for why they choose their lifestyle: health and ethics. I decided to do some research as to how both a meat-eating and a non-meat eating lifestyle compared on four different factors: health, environment, animal rights and welfare and slaughterhouse workers’ welfare.
In the health department, information seems to point out that both a vegetarian and carnivore’s diet can be healthy. Meat contains B vitamins and iron, which helps improve metabolism.
Iron can also be found in tofu and many minerals can be found in eggs, nuts and seeds.
Looking at it from an environmental perspective, beef has a high cost on the environment. When cows digest plants methane, a greenhouse gas, is produced so with a high-demand, comes a high-supply thus damaging the environment.
Plants, in general, produce less greenhouse gas emissions than animals do, even though some plants, such as strawberries can produce a large number of greenhouse gases.
However, not every piece of meat has an equal impact on the environment but depends on how the animal was raised.
Focusing on animal rights and welfare in modern agriculture, factory farming is a problem. Animals are confined inside of a slaughterhouse from harvesting when they are a few weeks old until slaughter.
Animals do not see sunlight or get to breathe fresh air and because the animals are crowded together so closely to mass-produce meat, they grow aggressive.
Farmers de-beak chicks and perform tail docks on cows, so animals will not fight with each other.
Pigs spend the entirety of their four-year lifespan on a concrete floor in crates so small they cannot move.
Therefore, vegetarianism and veganism both seem to be the friendlier of the choices in this aspect.
Regarding the actual people doing the job of producing the food, workers are paid very little and a lot of times slaughterhouses utilize undocumented immigrants from South America. The meat industry preys on these immigrants in their home countries, where they place advertisements.
On top of this workers get sick at their jobs because of the many health risks and are advised by their physicians to leave work. Due to the low pay, many workers cannot afford to leave work or to pay for the medicine that could become necessary with these illnesses.
The bottom line is people are omnivores, which means we can choose to eat meat or plants, or both. However, a person should try to eat less meat, or only eat meat from places one trusts because of the irrational scale of cruelty.
To attempt this you can do meatless Monday where you elect not to eat meat only one day a week or you might even try cutting out one kind of meat at a time.
If you must eat meat, get it from the farmer’s market or Chipotle, which has higher standards from its suppliers than a lot of other places.
There is a right team when choosing to be on Team Vegetarian, Team Vegan or Team Carnivore. Each have their own respective qualities, but just be careful when deciding where and how you get your food.