We see it everywhere: in recent years there has been a considerable increase in the culture of healthy living and alternative diets such as veganism, vegetarianism and the plant-based diet, all of which call for the consumer to stop eating meat. More than just a fad, all these options have become legitimate and respectable lifestyles, and although their adopters have different reasons to do so, without a doubt one of the most common is to reduce animal abuse and improve the conditions of the planet.
Is meat consumption the problem?
However, is it accurate to say that if everyone in the world suddenly decided to stop eating meat all our problems would be fixed? The reality is that the problem is much more complex and goes beyond the consumption of meat. While it is true that cattle production requires 28 times more land and 11 times more water than chicken or pork, it can not be said that the fault lies in livestock itself but rather with how its production is carried out.
If we decided to stop eating meat would also have a negative impact on the economy of farms and ranches that depend on the demand for these products to survive, not to mention the damage to their immediate communities and the drop in employment that would result from this decision.
Reducing the problem to a simple consumer decision to not buy meat and change their lifestyle is irresponsible to say the least, and it’s not likely to bring any real change. The answer doesn’t lie in judging other people’s dietary habits and lifestyle, or trying to push our own habits as the only valid option either.
Moderation is key
Beyond asking everyone to stop eating meat, what should be done is to reflect on the origin of the food we consume and support businesses that have a sustainable model vs. those who are doing it wrong. We should keep in mind that beef is not the only product linked to climate change, the entire food production system contributes to this.
Being more critical about where our food comes from, pushing for legislation that helps build a better relationship between producers and purchasers and promotes a more humane way of doing things, and exercising moderation are all better alternatives than just deciding to stop eating meat overnight.