There could be a wide variety of reasons why people become vegetarians. Some go into it in order to alleviate animal suffering, some do it because for the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, while others adopt it because of their passion for sustainability and wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus to save the climate and our environment.
It actually doesn’t matter how much denial their carnivorous friends make about it, vegetarians always do have a point: cutting out meat consumption has multiple benefits to deliver to us. And the more we have people make this switch, the more those perks would come to manifestation on a global scale.
According to various researchers, by cutting out or eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables, the world would not only be able to avoid several millions of death annually as a result of different chronic diseases arising from red meat consumption by 2050 but would also be able to cut planet-warming emissions substantially, and thus save as much as billions of dollars being spent annually on health-care costs and climate damage.
#1: Reduced death rate and healthcare costs
The consumption of red meats and other dairy products have been linked to various serious medical problems and increased death rate over the years. Numerous chronic diseases ranging from diabetes, cataract, cardiovascular diseases, kidney stones, to stroke and obesity have found their root in consumption of meat. However, according to various studies, for instance, the study published by the Loma University School of Public Health showed that vegetarian diets are closely associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of diabetes and George Washington University School of Medicine has also proved that vegetarian diets provide us a great benefit for diabetes management and can as well reduce the chance of development to half.
Also, the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford has discovered that vegetarian diets could help reduce the risk of cataract development. As stated by JCU University Skin Cancer Research Clinic, vegetarian diets could also be an important way to reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases as these diets are rich in antioxidants which are molecules that reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress, including atherosclerosis.
Vegetarian diets have also been associated with reduced risk of developing kidney stones, stroke and obesity because vegetarians and vegans are known to be more careful and deliberate in their choice of foods which will thus help prevent emotional eating which often contributes to obesity. And as discovered by New York University Langone Medical Center, replacing animal protein in our diets with vegetables will lead to higher urine pH which will help prevent kidney stone formation as low urine pH has been found to be associated with stone formation.
Therefore, if we are thinking of what the world would look like if everyone turns vegetarian, the first thing we would see is a world free of many chronic diseases and reduced death cases – as much as 8.1 million deaths per year by 2050. This will also help us save lots of billions of dollars which are usually spent on health care on a yearly basis.
#2: New Land Availability
Another major feature we would see in global vegetarianism would be expanses of new land available. At the present, land used for grazing by ruminants, including cows and their kin, accounts for a staggering 26% of the world’s ice-free land surface. It was predicted by the Dutch scientists that about 2.7 billion hectares of the land being used for grazing would surely be freed up if the world went vegetarian together with the 100 million hectares of land being used currently for growing crops to feed livestock. So, even if not all of this land would eventually be suitable for humans, however, this sudden influx of new territory through global vegetarianism would definitely make land much cheaper on the whole.
#3: A Healthy and Secured Climate
It could be very devastating to know that our meat-eating habit puts a lot of stress on the ecological system. One-third of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission that happens worldwide is as a result of food production, and the bulk of responsibility for this large percentage falls to the livestock industry. Often times, the major role our dietary choices play in determining the health of the climate is underestimated. Take for instance, in the United States, an average family of four releases more greenhouse gases due to their meat consumption than what happens with driving two cars. The UN in 2006 calculated the combined climate change emissions of animals reared for their meats to be up to 18% of the global total; that is obviously more than the ones from cars, trains, and other forms of transportation put together. However, when this will come up in global warming reports, more attention will be placed on the cars than the steaks.
However, in global vegetarianism, the climate receives a more secured treat from us all. Fewer greenhouse emissions and less physical waste production from livestock, will all sum up together to make our planet a better place to live.
#4: Lowered Risk of Antibiotics Resistance
If the world goes veggie, there is surely going to be a significant reduction in the cases of antibiotic resistance both in pathogens and in humans. This is because the current routine use of antibiotics in animal farming – either to enhance weight gain or prevent illness is becoming a major factor contributing to antibiotic resistance in our world today. From the report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year showing that nothing less than 2 million Americans fall sick from antibiotic-resistant pathogens yearly, global vegetarianism will no doubt help reduce the risk of antibiotics resistance and help save tons of lives and money.
#5: Reduced Levels of Deforestation
For the last 30 years, global agribusiness has turned to tropical rainforest, and it’s obviously not for their timbers but for the land that can be used for grazing cattle or to grow palm oil and soya as soya has now become the major crop for chicken feed. A staggering number of trees – up to millions of hectares – have been felled to provide feed for farms for China, Europe, and Japan which is rapidly taking our forest away from us. But when the whole world turned for vegetarian, there will be a significant reduction in the levels of deforestation and we can again have the wild for ourselves and use it for its most important purpose – growing timbers.
#6: No More Spoilage of the Oceans
Actually, it is not only the oil pollution disaster that happens in the Gulf of Mexico that is the problem being faced by this region. In most summers, about 20,000 sq km of the sea at the bank of the Mississippi turns a “dead zone” as a result of the large amount of animal waste, sewage, factory farms, fertilizers, and Nitrogen compounds been washed down the mighty rivers. This results in algal blooms taking up dissolved oxygen in the waters and thus deprive little life their rights to survival. But have you ever think this will be no more when the world eventually turns to vegetables rather than the steaks. Of course, it will be a world where the ocean will be more secure and protected from unwanted wastes from animal production.
Even if it looks too realistic to have the entire world become vegetarians, we can still find a middle path where most of us can actually stop giving our money to factory farms and eat less meat than we are currently. This will help prevent lots of death, antibiotic resistance, many chronic diseases, unfavorable climate change, and as well help save our forest. The new world of vegetarians is really a world to desire as about 25% of the world’s land area could be won back from the cows.
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