Position paper 2
November 19, 2016
It is easy to deduce that the world we live in is constantly improving and pressing forward. We live in a fast-paced society that continues to discover its flaws and from that, innovate further till solutions arise. While we as citizens have devoted time and efforts to improving and shaping the world we want to live in, there are still numerous areas in which we have yet to understand and innovate. With this, the meat industry remains a large part of how our world functions and responds, furthering why we should understand its roots and origins. Much of the meat industry becomes a relevant mystery that must be evaluated with closer attention in order to conclude where in the industry poses the moral and ethical question. The industry’s large social and physical impacts raise a question to what alternatives could help divert a traditional societal norm into something updated to the problems and uncertainties of our current society. When considering these alternatives, it is crucial to look at all facets of how the meat industry affects us. Where does the controversy originate from? Is it a question of morality or the fear of changing something that has remained a norm of our society for generations? Most importantly, we have to find the disconnect that exists between our actions and their roots. The meat industry remains one of many questions which has yet to attract enough attention to their actions. The opposing side of the meat industry that contains offsets to its’ unknowns is the idea of vegetarianism and how it remains relevant is to our shifting world. By delving deeper into what we don’t know about the meat industry, we will be able to recognize its transparency and what it means to have the ethical power over the way in which we choose to run it.
The meat industry encompasses varies areas of our everyday lives that remains a popular choice of debate as it has contributed to environmental footprints, disease and illnesses, and cruelty through our meat producing system. Currently, about 3.3 percent of today’s adult population would identify as a vegetarian with the idea growing and becoming more understood. In today’s progressing society we place a high focus on sustainability and health concerns which furthers the meatless lifestyle many are becoming accustomed to. The advantages of vegetarianism are dependent on what people want for themselves, the planet, or both. For some, the health conveniences are enough, whereas for others the benefits are reflected through environmental or moral aspects that come from this style of living. Vegetarianism has received a label that can be perceived as pretentious, fake, or unnecessary, however, it isn’t about agreeing with its label, but more so being able to recognize the benefits that arise from less meat consumption.
Most people can recognize the traditional health concerns that are associated with meat consumption, but what new information about health in relation to meat would press enough urgency to make one actually switch to a plant-based diet; longer life expectancy? A clearer mind? When looking at vegetarianism through a health lens, it is important to focus greater attention on the social benefits rather than the immediately thought of health concerns. When the obvious ‘heart disease and cancer linked to meat’ are put aside, the benefits presented can be demonstrated through both short and long term advantages. In terms of immediate effects, “restricting meat, fish, and poultry improved some domains of short-term mood state in modern omnivores” (Benedictine University). This provides a good understanding of how the benefits that come from a vegetarian diet aren’t always directly correlated to the health dangers. When looking at vegetarianism through this perspective, it is clear that health encompasses more that the negative aspects, as there are many positive benefits that better fit with our progressing lifestyles. With our rapidly adjusting society, a plant-based diet offers a physical detox along with mental clarity, something anyone can utilize with a world that needs answers followed by actions.
The question is, who is responsible for the environmental footprints evident throughout our earth? Whether you believe in the health benefits of vegetarianism or not, there are substantial environmental advantages to the decrease consumption of meat in relation to the numerous environmental footprints we contribute to the earth. One specifically being the focus on water conservation, as water is a necessity for all living creatures and is becoming less obtainable. It is our job to conserve the limited water our planet offers because if we don’t then who will? With this, there are many ways in which we can help sustain water when looking at a meatless lifestyle. The production of beef uses nearly “2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound, as it only takes about 220 gallons of water to produce tofu” (ProCon). To put it in perspective, the production of meat takes roughly 10 times more water than plants. Additionally, “grazing has damaged 80 percent of streams and riparian areas in the western united states”, furthering the destruction we are placing on our environment (ProCon). It is evident that the water footprint alone is largely affected by meat production — though it should be recognized that this is only the beginning of the damage meat production causes. Another rising issue we are facing is the greenhouse gasses being released. To put this problem into perspective, raising animals for meat production can equate to 18 percent of these greenhouse gasses. This poses huge problems as the meat industry has remained a staple in most American lives. continuing at this rate will substantially increase greenhouse gasses which only degrades the environment we are all supposed to be able to thrive in.
If the meat industry’s secrets were exposed, where would people see the flaws? People argue that there is a humane slaughter, yet is any slaughter humane? The meat industry does not want people to know how their system works as around “50 percent of meat produced in the united states comes from confined animal feeding operations where animals live in filthy, overcrowded spaces” (ProCon). We rely on the advertising that illustrates the meat industry as cows roaming freely in wide open pastures of soft green grass, when in reality the meat industry lives in dark, disease ridden spaces where the animals are locked behind bars for the short entirety of their life. Although many have yet to be conscious to the cruelty behind the meat industry, with the right exposer I believe this could change. People choose to disassociate the food they eat with the process of how their meat goes from cow to plate. However, understanding this disconnect can draw us to question why we can morally slaughter some animals and house the rest. And if we can drink cow’s milk why not drink dogs? Society has chosen to treat certain animals in destructive ways while others remain a man’s best friend. The topic of morality through the meat industry should be highlighted as much of it is hidden and unknown.
The world we live in is highly concentrated in egocentrism. As much as we don’t want to admit it, we enjoy thinking and priding ourselves for what we excel in. With this being said, why should we really care about the animals? By looking at this idea of egocentrism from an alternative perspective, however, one can feel that they are bettering the earth if they are the ones ‘saving the animals’. With a change in mindset, we can shift the traditional ways the meat industry has run, into a new appreciation for animals controlled by us. It is important for us to feel proactive and significant, thus why we need to direct this effort towards the ethics of animals.
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“Restriction of Meat, Fish, and Poultry in Omnivores Improves Mood: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.
2012, By The End of. “Vegetarian ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.