Minimize meat intake, consider where your food comes from

October 03, 2016

Jasmine Nelson

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     Vegans and vegetarians are the subjects of memes, jokes and insults that state why it’s wrong to give up treats like steak and hamburgers.

     And whenever someone expresses their interest in becoming vegetarian or vegan, you think, “but, bacon!”

     Yes, I know that meat tastes good, but that doesn’t mean someone’s choice to skip the burger makes them less of a person.

     Vegetarians and vegans are trying to make a difference in the well-being of our environment, their health and the treatment of livestock.

     People may never agree on whether or not humans should consume high levels of meat and dairy, but no matter your opinion, the rate of consumption is taking its toll.

     Perks of choosing the meatless life include avoiding foods that aren’t nutritious for you. While not all vegetarians and vegans are healthy, aiming to eat more fruits and vegetables improves your vitamin intake.

     According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three American adults are obese. Red meats increase your risk of death by cardiovascular disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.

     Vegetarians avoid high-fat foods and are leading a better, healthier lifestyle as opposed to lining their arteries with bacon grease. This is something we should all avoid doing more often.

     If you do decide to eat meat, lean meats are the healthier choice, but the animals that ultimately end up in your sandwich were probably treated horrendously.

     Movies like “Food Inc.” and animal rights activists have exposed companies like Tyson for poor animal conditions that allow for farms to breed in high numbers to meet the demands of the meat market.

     These conditions include spatial confinement, no exposure to sunlight and other practices that raise poultry so sick and deformed that they can’t walk.

     Red Bird Farms, a Colorado poultry farm known for their more progressive methods of raising chickens, are not a certified free-range farm, according to their website, though they still boast spacious living conditions for their poultry.

     Even the term “free range” isn’t as healthy as you may think. The USDA defines “free range” products as having any access to the outdoors, and does not define a space requirement for the poultry or necessitate that they have full-body access to the outdoors.

     “Cage free eggs” are also only broadly defined by the USDA as having been “produced by hens housed in a building, room, or enclosed area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and provides the freedom to roam within the area during the laying cycle.”

     That statement does not denote space-dimension requirements or access to sunlight. In other words, the meat industry is poorly regulated by very broad terms and guidelines, allowing for the poor treatment of the livestock.

     Considering these faulty conditions, those who have decided to boycott meat because of the inhumane treatment of animals deserve support, not ridicule.

     Whether or not you believe that vegetarianism or veganism should be a permanent diet change, an informed discussion needs to be opened and the consumption of meat should be examined critically and objectively.

     This discussion needs to happen between vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike. The meat industry is inhumane, unsustainable and needs to be talked about in more outlets than Facebook. Memes aren’t going to solve this one.