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December 6, 2019

We Don’t have a Good Excuse to Eat Meat.

I became a vegan because I didn’t want to harm animals anymore.

I finally put two and two together, finally saw the link between supply and demand: if I eat meat, more animals will need to be killed.

I am still concerned about animals, but my conscience and mind have widened. The main reason I am still a vegan is because of the environmental problems it solves.

It is well-known that in the current world of seven billion people, a vegan diet would feed many more of the world’s people, use much less water in the process, and cause none of the havoc on the environment that the meat industry does.

The environmental crisis we are facing is not just that; it is a humanitarian crisis as well as a severe threat to biodiversity. There will be immense human suffering in the future due to land scarcity and natural disasters, as well as an even further reduction in the variety of other species that live on this planet. The good news: the planet will survive, though in a metamorphosized form. Who knows, cockroaches might be the new masters!

What this points to is the immense responsibility that we have right now, the responsibility to reduce our impact on the Earth so that life can continue to flourish here. And one of the most important things we can do is to eat a plant-based diet.

Now, let’s not get hung up on names and labels here. Forget about the word “vegan,” because there’s too much image, subculture, and stereotypical connotations associated with that word. And anyway, it’s not an all-or-nothing thing. It’s not important that we stop eating meat altogether; it’s about significantly reducing our consumption of meat, and to do that, we need to replace it with vegetable matter. As a vegan, I think it would be great for people to reduce their meat intake to once or twice a week.

One of the things that gets in the way of people adopting a plant-based diet is the health concern. They think that by missing out on meat, they are missing out on essential nutrients, especially the all-important protein needed to build muscle. But you only need to watch the documentary, “The Game Changers,” to see that’s not true. The strongest man in the world, Patrik Baboumian, only eats plants, and he’s as strong as an ox, which, as he points out, only eats plants too!

Anyone on the paleo diet will disagree and say that animal protein should constitute much of our diet, that the human body was designed to eat meat.

I’m not a dietitian, so I’m not here to settle this long-standing debate. But what I’d like to point out is that perhaps this health debate is missing an important point: what’s more important, having the perfect diet or having a habitable planet? I think the second one is much more important. Let’s imagine that food scientists did conclusively prove that a meat-based diet is ideal for humans. Does this make it ethical to live on such a diet in our current situation? No.

It’s all a matter of context. When the Earth’s human population was less than one billion and we didn’t rely on fossil fuels, the ethical imperative to eat a plant-based diet was much less. (I say “much less,” because to me it was still immoral to intentionally harm animals.) But now, considering the number of people on the planet, the scarcity of farmland, the depletion of soils, and the array of harmful gasses in the air, the ethical imperative has risen significantly.

We should stop trying to compare ourselves to our ancestors. They inhabited a different world, a world where their footsteps carried less weight and their footprints quickly withered. Ours are heavy and will burden future generations if we don’t begin to walk with conscience and consideration for those in the future.

It’s time to forget about labels. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, who’s better or worse, who’s righteous or reprehensible. It’s not about us. It’s about them: those who will inherit the Earth.

The palate and belly are not our trusted guides—our intelligence and conscience are.

Let’s take the taste buds from our tongues and implant them in our hearts. That’s when plant-based food tastes best!

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