Small Changes Make a Big Difference
How 400 Million Animal Were Lives Saved … and Not by Vegetarians!
The Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth. But you don’t have to give up meat altogether to follow a plant-based diet for your own health and for the health of the planet. The vast majority of Americans still include meat in their diets—a whopping 93%! But overall meat consumption in the United States has declined by 10% over the last 9 years, and the number of animals raised and killed for food in the United States has decreased by nearly half a million over the last decade.
In an interview Latest Vegan News, Paul Shapiro, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), stated that 9.5 billion animals were raised and killed for food in 2007. By 2014, that number had dropped by 400 million!
The Power of Meatless Mondays
While meat consumption has declined over the last decade, the number of vegetarians over that same time span has remained steady at only 5 – 8% of the population. Shapiro attributes the drop in animas killed for meat to the actions of people who have cut back on meat but not entirely eliminated it from their diets. Kristie Middleton, who also works for the HSUS Farm Animal Protection division, started a team in 2011 focused solely on partnering with institutions to reduce meat consumption. The team convinced the Los Angeles school district to embrace Meatless Mondays in 2012. That initiative alone stopped more than 700,000 meat-based meals from being served each week.
Saving the lives of millions of farm animals—and preventing the environmental damage that comes with raising those animals for meat—matters far more than increasing the number of people who identify as vegetarian or vegan. “The term ‘vegan’ is exclusive,” said celebrity nutritionist (and vegan) Julieanna Hever, who calls herself the Plant-Based Dietician, in an interview with Well + Good. Terms like plant-based are inclusive, and focus on what a person’s diet includes, rather than what it doesn’t.
Adaptable and Life-Saving Choice
For some, eating a plant-based diet will mean eating an entirely vegetarian or vegan diet. For others, it won’t. Part of the beauty of a plant-based diet is that it’s adaptable. For many, plant-based describes not just their diet, but also their lifestyle. Living a plant-based lifestyle means being mindful of where our food comes from, how it nourishes our bodies and minds, and its impact on the wider world. By choosing to eat less meat, omnivores can still contribute to large-scale, life-saving changes to our food system.
A Little Change Makes a Big Difference
Often, discussions about farming animals for food and animal welfare devolve into arguments about whether or not we’re morally obligated to care about the wellbeing of animals, or whether the deliciousness of bacon justifies its consumption. What can no longer be debated is that, according to current scientific knowledge, animals have the capacity to suffer and do experience feelings. By reducing meat consumption, we can reduce the number of animals living in painful and stressful conditions and at the same time, we will be protecting the environment for ourselves and for future generations, as well. When it comes to cutting back on meat consumption, a little change makes a big difference.