When you go to the supermarket, you most likely always have some sort of dairy or meat product, whether it’s chicken, steak, bacon, or hot dog meat. The packaging might say something like, “all-natural” or have an image of a happy chicken roaming a green field. Well, it is very easy to put this information on packaging, even if it isn’t true at all. A lot of people in our country consume a lot of meat without really knowing what or how the meat is made, or how it could be affecting global warming and climate change. If you didn’t know, meat consumption and its packaging make up 18% of greenhouse gas, a harmful gas that contributes to warming our planet. There are a lot of bad parts to consuming meat, and there are ways around it. I’m not saying what we have to do is stop eating meat altogether, since that is unreasonable. What we need to do is first analyze what we are consuming, and what is on our plates.
I interviewed 8th-grade teacher, Mr. Spohngellert, who is a vegetarian. Mr. Spohngellert explained that pretty much since he was a young child, he’s always been eating from the vegetarian diet.
“My mother raised me as a vegetarian. When my mother was around 13 or 14, she decided she didn’t want to eat animals anymore, because she really believed killing animals was cruel, and she felt all life was precious, and we shouldn’t kill animals if we don’t have to.”
He explained that he chose to continue with this diet even after he left his mother’s home years later.
“The reason I have maintained the diet since I’ve left my mother’s home is I believe being a vegetarian is good for my body. I also believe and have seen the meat industry is very cruel to animals.”
Mr. S further explained how he thought that the factory farms in which the cows and animals are raised were being treated very badly.
“I’ve watched a few movies about factory farming and the way they treat our animals is really horrifying,” he explained. “It’s really sad to see how these animals are being treated in these factory farms. The chickens are all packed together where they can barely move. It’s a really horrifying experience for animals.”
When I asked him in which ways eating meat could be hurting our environment and contributing to climate change, he had a few ideas including harmful gasses like methane and fossil fuels that are being released into the atmosphere when we produce meat.
“Cows release gasses called methane that contribute to climate change, so the more cows we have, the more methane gas release we are going to experience,” he explained. “When we use different factories and different farming tools to produce meat, we’re burning fossil fuels a lot of the time, which really affects the environment.”
I spoke to 6th-grade science teacher Ms. Jimenez to hear her thoughts about the situation. She first explained how she did eat meat, but she had ideas of doing otherwise at some points.
“I’ve definitely considered becoming a vegetarian or a pescatarian, particularly because of the mistreatment of animals, and the way in which they are being taken care of in these agricultural farming factories,” she said.
Ms. Jimenez talked about how antibiotics and certain hormones were being used in these factory farms to produce larger and fuller animals that consumers would enjoy more.
“The size of chickens today is definitely not the size they were years ago. They’re growing artificially, and we’re eating all this antibiotic-filled meat,” she said. “99% of the market is factory farming, so you could assume most of them are using antibiotics in their products, meaning their animals would be sick. You’re ingesting sick animals.”
When I asked her about the connection between how meat consumption would be affecting the environment, she explained: “Our meat consumption is polluting our waterways, depleting our soil, it’s contributing towards global warming, and of course climate change.”
Overall, we have seen that our meat consumption is affecting our environment and animals, and even contributes to climate change. After all of these obstacles with meat consumption, we can conclude that we have to do something about this situation!
When I talked about this to Ms. Jimenez, she explained, “The whole world becoming vegetarian is not something I foresee, but I think that just knowing about the situation and knowing what’s on your plate and how it contributed to pollution, climate change, and becoming aware can be a step forward…I feel hopeful, though. You see Burger King and McDonald’s are already introducing the beyond meat burgers soon. I feel like we are moving towards a better direction.”
Mr. S also had strong feelings about acting towards changing this situation.
“We need to start emphasizing the health benefits of adopting the vegetarian or plant-based diet towards adults. There are many sports players and athletes such as Chris Paul, a basketball player who uses a plant-based diet because it helps to increase their performance on the court,” he said. “We don’t want becoming a vegetarian to be a punishment. We want to emphasize all the great things that you can help happen around you and to yourself if you adopt this diet. Nobody wants to be told what to do or told that they’re a bad person because of their eating habit.”
In conclusion, our heavy meat consumption has definitely had a large effect on our environment and animals, and it’s important we do something to change it. Not everyone in the world will become a vegetarian or vegan and eliminate all animal products from their life, but the small steps we take to reduce our meat consumption are the ones that count. We need to take small steps to help this situation of cruelty towards animals and climate change and make a change for the better. Thank you for reading my article, and I hope you learned a new thing about what you’re consuming and what’s on our plates!