This has been a topic of debate for years now, especially as climate change has become more prevalent, and as a vegetarian/veganism diet has become more accessible and popular. I have been a vegetarian for 7 years, and I’m currently trying to make the switch all the way to vegan. As a nutrition major, you bet I’ve watched documentary after documentary and read article after article on this. I was so excited when I saw the title of this article, On the Limits of Food Autonomy, because I’ve been doing research on it lately and it pertains (somewhat) to my major.
I’ve heard many arguments on both sides of the vegan debate, and they tend to usually be the same ones. I thought this article was really interesting because it brought up something I’d never really thought of before – eating meat is what everyone grew up with, and most people don’t want to stray away from the societal norm. Lots of people claim it is harder to be vegetarian or vegan, and that can be true in some cases. It requires an extra step or two of thinking when you eat out at a restaurant, and you have to plan your diet to contain the nutrients that are harder in some cases to get with those dietary restrictions. However, if society considered veganism or vegetarianism more normal, options would soar for places to eat and items to get in the grocery store (and prices would go down for direct vegan substitutes; a general vegan diet tends to be cheaper than an omnivore one).
I could type for hours about the many reasons to transition humanity to a more plant-based diet, and I think the biggest barrier for most people is that the average human does not know how big of an industry livestock raising is, and how staggering some of these facts are. 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases come from the emissions used to raise livestock – that’s more than all of the transportation systems in the world combined. 70% of the water available to humans is used to give to farm animals; 20,000 pounds of water is used to create 1 pound of beef (whereas a pound of potatoes takes only 60 pounds of water). I am really hoping that if more information gets out to the general population, more people will consider reducing their meat intake. I really hope that we aren’t condemning our planet just because we like the taste and convenience of meat.