One ongoing trend among health-conscious and animal-loving individuals is cutting out meats from their diets. But is vegetarianism really healthier, and really making a difference in animal treatment?
It is true for some people a vegetarian diet is healthier than the way they were eating before. This does not mean proteins and other nutrients from meats are bad for you – this just means they are eating a variety of fruits and vegetables with several vitamins in them.
In fact, a lot of people who stick to a purely vegetarian diet might not be getting enough protein, with vegans at even more of a risk. Vegans don’t eat anything made from animals, including eggs or gelatin, which is made with animal bones.
However, people are not always selective with the meats they eat, either. Eating lean meats
is a better way to maintain protein levels without taking in too many calories or fats.
Others become vegetarians because they want to protest the treatment of animals in meat
factories. While I don’t think it’s wrong to eat meat, I do think it’s wrong how meat factories treat cattle and poultry inhumanely.
It doesn’t seem like becoming vegetarian makes much of an impact on those selling meat, however – supermarkets don’t stop offering meat products, but just offer more plant-based foods according to demand. Simply boycotting the consumption of meat does little to help animals.
Rather than not eating meat in protest of animal cruelty, including overcrowding and overworking animals, letting animals get trampled to death or allowing animals to go untreated and die from illness, talk to someone who can make a difference.
There are several options available, including writing letters to government officials to increase regulation and enforcement of treating animals kindly within factories, instead of letting poultry have their beaks cut off while alive or never letting cows get exercise.
When enough people are passionate about a certain topic, they can work together to make people take notice. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seem to focus more on asking people to become vegetarian, rather than protesting the rights of animals in factories.
It would be more effective and helpful to actually have the rules changed in markets that deal with animals. Due to mass production, small-scale farming is not as prevalent in modern times, but it is a great alternative to buying the meat from corporations.
If you love to eat meat but you also want to scrap the animal cruelty, shop for foods identified as “grass-fed” or “pasture-raised,” terms meaning the animals lived and ate naturally. This means you don’t have to worry about food pumped with hormones and steroids, and the animals were treated humanely before being slaughtered.
Naturally-raised animals have more nutritional benefits for consumers, as well. According to Kate Clancy, former senior scientist at Union of Concerned Scientists, grass-fed beef is lower in fat than cattle fed with hormones.
“The other thing is that meat and milk from grass-fed cattle will probably have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen people’s immune systems,” said Clancy in an article for foodandwine.com.
Buying meat labeled as grass-fed, organic or free-range also means you are supporting small businesses rather than large corporations that care little about how animals are treated. Small-scale farmers and ranchers who raise livestock humanely are often rewarded when people buy their products.
Whether you are vegetarian because you think it’s wrong to eat meat, or because you don’t like the way animals are treated in the meat market, you can make a difference. Protest the treatment of animals and help spread awareness on this important issue.