The Polarization of Veganism and Vegetarianism

It is common knowledge by now that meat production and consumption is in direct proportion to increased greenhouse gases, pollution, and waste. The well-known documentary Cowspiracy and the 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report shed light on the livestock industry and the fact that raising cattle produces more global emissions than that of vehicle transportation. The science behind climate change and the horror of meat production through factory farming is beyond evident.

Not only is meat consumption morally questionable, its ties to the degradation of our Earth are overwhelming. In a study by the World Bank in 2009, it was predicted that meat production is responsible for over 51% of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere: a direct contributor to the encroaching terror of global warming.

Vegans and vegetarians are not radical in the slightest — contradictory to common stereotype — they are simply aware of the harsh truth and choosing to benefit the planet and their personal health rather than remaining removed from actions of progress.

However, the social understanding of both veganism and vegetarianism is quite polarizing.

“You cannot be an environmentalist if you eat meat,” it was once said to me. But I beg to differ. There are ways to aid the Earth and be a considerate consumer without giving up thanksgiving turkey and the occasional celebratory steak. The extreme belief that one cannot possibly be contributing to progress and environmental health through meat consumption is an alternative fact.

There are numerous noble ways to lessen one’s consumption while still falling on the spectrum of vegetarian or vegan. My personal favored approach is through a 3% consumption rate in which 97% of my energy is plant-based and the remaining percent is occasional white meat and fish, or red meat that has already been purchased and would otherwise be thrown away.

While some may consider this method to be insulting to the essence of vegetarianism, I find it to be a practical approach in reducing the demand for industrialized farming and still falling on the spectrum.

The same method can be utilized for becoming vegan. One can limit dairy and animal-based products at a certain percent, rather than immediately cutting out these food groups. A transition into the extreme does not make you less of an environmentalist or an irresponsible consumer, in fact I would argue the opposite.