The Vegetarian Hypothesis

By: Francesca S

Our diets, which ever they may be, have a large impact on our planet. They control markets and are a crucial part of our survival. Still, there are a wide range of reasons for one to make the choice of controlling their diet, like becoming vegetarian, or at times even vegan. The reasons range from ethical opinions on animals, to health reasons, and some to reduce the increasingly worrying problem of the emission of greenhouse gases. The reasons also seem very beneficial, they would in fact bring many positive changes: the 5 billion hectares now used to grow potential meat, would be converted into cultivations that would drastically reduce the CO2 in the air. An American family, in fact, is responsible for the greater amount of greenhouse gases emitted just for choosing a meat-based diet rather than the cars they own. The absence of meat in our diets would also result in preventing diseases like that of diabetes or heart strokes. Yet, if we all were to decide to become vegetarian by tomorrow there would be many drawbacks.

Wait. Given all these advantages, why wouldn’t it be great that all seven billion of us become vegetarians?

Well, first and foremost, the economic downfall would be significant. Many people have jobs that deal with the production of meat – from the employees of the butcher shop down the street, or veterinarians that are responsible for healthy cattle. It goes further than that, some poor communities make their money by growing livestock, and it wouldn’t be possible (due to the geography of the region) to make the same living out of crops. Next, meat is part of many cultures all over the world – one eats turkey at Thanksgiving, Italians eat lamb at Easter and Jamòn is emblematic to the Spanish cuisine.

So, what is the ideal solution to this?

The ideal solution from companies would be to decrease the price of vegetables and fruits, so consumers are encouraged to chose them. Meanwhile, on our own, we should eat meat only one time a week – especially red meat. A diet that embodies these ideas is the Mediterranean diet, which encourages a diet based on vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, herbs, fish and seafood, and extra virgin olive oil. Then recommends to eat in moderation poultry, eggs and cheeses, and to rarely eat red meat.

So, most recommended is the Mediterranean diet, where the consumption of meat is limited – we maximize the benefits for Earth and “carnivorous” workers, we take in the proteins we need, all while minimizing the drawbacks for our planet.

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