[dropcap size=small bg_color=”#5e9cd4″]A[/dropcap]s a proffered meat lover, I, like many, have failed the bid to go vegetarian. Whether it’s the supposed expense of meat-free alternatives, or a lack of imagination when it comes to restaurant menus (goat’s cheese tart again?), there are plenty of reasons why it seems more appealing to stay meat eaters. Why else would we have those carnivorous canines?
But, when it comes down to it, a vegetarian diet has a huge number of advantages over one high in meat. From preventing heart disease to lowering our carbon footprint, reducing your daily meat intake by a small margin could have great impact on your mind, body, and the planet.
Take something as simple as peace of mind. Considering the number of problems that have come to light in the past few years, it is clear the meat industry has a number of management problems. Be it horsemeat in supermarkets, or more serious issues such as BSE, going vegetarian will help to ease your troubled mind from the worries of wondering just where (or what) your meat comes from.
Not only will your mind feel more at ease knowing what you’re eating, you’ll be helping to reduce meats impact on a wider scale. We all know that current meat production is unsustainable, contributing to global warming and deforestation. But, according to studies by the University of Oxford, halving a diet of 100 grams of meat a day could save almost a tonne of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent to a flight between London and New York (though sadly that isn’t an excuse to spend that carbon footprint on a trip to the Empire State Building).
Meat production, surprisingly, also uses a substantial amount of water in comparison to vegetable production. With a burgeoning world population and sustainable water supplies being touted as a major issue of the future, it hardly seems rational to continue producing as much meat as we are.
Finally, there are the health benefits. Reducing the amount of meat in your diet can drastically cut the risk of a number of health problems. While a diet high in red meat has shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer, a healthier lifestyle with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables may help to prevent up to a third of other cancers. Furthermore, a plant-based diet has been shown to lower obesity, which can lead to heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes: illnesses that all have a high contribution to NHS expenses. Therefore, vegetarianism is not only incredibly good for us, but it could allow us to drastically reduce the strain put on our stretched healthcare services, thus benefitting others as well.
Overall, the evidence seems clear that reducing our meat intake is essential both for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our planet. Whether you give up meat completely, or choose to reduce your intake through initiatives such as Meat Free Monday, your body, your NHS and your planet will thank you for it. Now where’s that tart…