Being vegetarian-An initiative for a healthy environment

N Munal Meitei
During this ongoing COP-26, from 31st October to 12th November at Glasgow, which was awarded the Global Green City, in an Annual Report released this week by the World Metrological Organization, the global CO2 concentration has increased by 149 % upto 413.2 ppm above the pre-industrial level- despite the serious worldwide economic slowdown due to COVID-19, the most dreaded pandemic in the human history which is claimed to have come from an animal.
World Vegetarian Day is observed on 1st October and World Vegan Day on 1st November every year since 1978 and 1994 respectively. The difference between vegetarians and vegans is that vegetarians don’t eat any animal flesh (beef, chicken, fish, etc.), but vegans even don’t take anything that comes from an animal (egg, dairy, leather, fur, etc.).
This day emphasizes the environmental considerations, animal welfare and rights issues and personal health benefits to encourage people to ditch animal products. A vegetarian diet focuses on vegetables, seeds, legumes, fruits, nuts and grains and also includes animal products such as eggs, dairy and honey that are obtained without involving the death of an animal or the consumption of its meat.
Vegetarianism was frequently referred to as a Pythagorean Diet, as the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician was an early advocate for the diet. Notably, vegetarianism was present in India since the 5th Century BC, through the teachings of Buddhism.
The benefits vegetarian diets offer are; it lowers risk of diabetes which is sometimes genetic but now, lifestyle and diet are the biggest contributors. Plant-based diets help to keep the insulin and glucose levels in the body.
Vegetarianism helps to check the body weight and reduces the amount of toxins going in our body. It reduces infection risks, as it automatically eliminates the risk of bacteria like salmonella, bird flu, E.Coli and many other meat, poultry, or fish borne diseases. Unwashed, improperly cooked, or infected meats are the cause of 67 million illnesses each year, according to a CDC report.
Researchers from Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation in Taiwan revealed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of urinary tract infections as UTIs are usually caused by the gut bacteria, such as E. Coli, that enter the urinary tract and affect the kidneys and bladder. According to a latest research, turning into a vegetarian can increase strong immune system keeping us away from diseases more than those who are non-vegetarians.
Vegetarian diets are good for both people and the planet. Being vegetarian and vegan can create a better world because vegetarian diets have proven health benefits, save animal lives and help to preserve the earth. It reduces the risk of major killers such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer while cutting exposure to foodborne pathogens. It also provides to save the world’s hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops, save animals from suffering in factory-farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter, conserve vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources, preserve irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats, decrease greenhouse gases that are accelerating global warming and mitigate the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture.
As empathy, we are all a part of nature. Being vegetarian will make the world a better place not only for animals, but for our health and the environment too. It is a change from an unhealthy to a healthy habit and diet. To become vegetarian is the ethical, environmental, health and humanitarian benefits.
The world’s forests and other natural habitats are also important carbon sinks. Being vegetarian will surely help to combat climate change and reduce from further damages to the natural environment. The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the lives on this planet. It may be hard to define a diet that links health and environmental outcomes but being a vegetarian has something to reveal. Apart from global warming, loss of biodiversity is another major environmental problem. Such loss is closely linked to the conversion of natural habitats, such as tropical rainforest being cleared for agricultural and farm lands.
Greenhouse gases are driving the climate crisis-the biggest threat to the future of our planet. Meats have a high carbon footprint primarily due to the enteric fermentation in the gut, leading to methane emissions. The global meat and dairy industry is responsible for as much greenhouse gases as all the direct emissions from all global transportation combined. You can reduce your food-related carbon footprint by up to 50% if you go with vegetarian and vegan.
Animal farming is destroying our environment. It causes up to 91% of Amazon deforestation. Growing vegetarian food uses 50% less land than animal agriculture. And a meat and dairy diet is inherently wasteful. Remember that for every 100 calories fed to animals, we receive back only 12 calories by consuming their flesh and milk. Feeding crops to people rather than farmed animals could feed three billion more people. With this, I don’t mean, not to rear animals but not to eat animals.
The plant-based foods are required not only for climate change mitigation but for public health too. The net zero emission aiming for 1.5°C by 2100 will be possible via a shift towards plant-based diets because the production of meat, dairy and eggs consume much energy.
Some people think that becoming a vegetarian could be a challenge and have to spend much time and labour to the family while changing the lifestyle and also worried about finding the vegetarian food options. But,many vegetarians claim, the vegetarian’s lifestyle is always easier, happier and healthier.
Hence please, don’t eat anything that had a mom and don’t buy anything with fur, leather, wool, down, or silk and also cosmetics with animal products in them. Don’t attend events that use animals as entertainment such as the zoo, circus, rodeo, or animal rides where horses, donkeys, elephants, etc. are used.
Therefore to become vegetarian is the best option to save the environment and the planet. The Government also should encourage implementing plant based diets for public sector institutions like schools, hospitals and caring homes. Such acts will surely save from the climate change, the dreaded diseases and lead to a healthy and sustainable live for a better environment and the future generation.
The writer is an environmentalist, [email protected]