Why You Should Consider Consuming Less Meat in 2024: 5 Compelling Reasons

Derek Ma Feb 26, 2024
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cows
Table of Contents
  1. Humans Are Natural Omnivores
  2. Why Eating Less Meat is Better for the Environment
    1. 1. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
    2. 2. Preservation of Natural Resources:
    3. 3. Protection of Biodiversity:
    4. 4. Improved Water Quality:
    5. 5. Health Benefits:
  3. Sustainable Alternatives for a More Environmentally Friendly Diet
    1. Vegetarian or Vegan Diet:
    2. Flexitarian Diet:
    3. Alternative Protein Sources:
  4. My Final Thoughts on Eating Less Meat

Meat has long been considered a staple in many cultures worldwide, providing essential nutrients and satisfying our taste buds.  


Most of my favorite meals include meat.  I enjoy savoring a nice grilled hamburger, splurging on a big juicy steak, or socializing with my friends over Korean BBQ.


However, in recent years, the ethical implications of consuming meat have gained significant attention due to various factors, including animal welfare, environmental impact, and personal health.


Many individuals have chosen alternative diets, such as vegetarianism or veganism, as a means to align their eating habits with their ethical beliefs.


In an ideal world, we would all be vegetarians or vegans.


However, this is not an ideal world, and not everyone can or wants to be vegetarian or vegan. 



eating food

Humans Are Natural Omnivores


It is already hard for me to envision myself eating no more meat, let alone the entire world.  


I don’t believe that it is a practical solution right now, which is why I argue for eating less meat rather than no meat.


From a biological standpoint, humans are natural omnivores and naturally inclined to crave the taste of meat due to its nutritional value. 


This innate preference for meat has been ingrained in our DNA over thousands of years, making it difficult to resist its appeal.


Meat is a concentrated source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for our growth, development, and overall health. 


Our ancestors relied on meat as a primary source of sustenance, and our taste preferences have evolved to reflect this dependence.


So, why should we consume less meat?



Factory Farm

Why Eating Less Meat is Better for the Environment


1. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions:


Livestock farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane and nitrous oxide. 


Cows and other farm animals are estimated to produce around 14 percent of human-induced climate emissions.  


Individuals can help reduce these emissions and mitigate climate change by consuming less meat.



(Source - OurWorldinData.org by Hannah Ritchie)



2. Preservation of Natural Resources: 


Livestock production requires vast amounts of land, water, and feed. 


Even though livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land (77%), it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein.


The meat industry is also notorious for its excessive water usage, contributing significantly to the global water crisis. 


The production of meat requires significant amounts of water for animal hydration, irrigation of crops fed to livestock, and processing and cleaning facilities.


According to studies, it takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef.  


For comparison, it takes 108 gallons of water for one pound of corn. This stark contrast highlights the inefficiency of meat production regarding water usage.


Reducing meat consumption can conserve these valuable resources and ensure their sustainable use for future generations.


3. Protection of Biodiversity: 


The expansion of livestock farming often leads to deforestation.


To meet the high demand for meat, vast areas of forests are cleared to create grazing land or grow animal feed crops such as soybeans. 


This deforestation not only destroys valuable ecosystems but also threatens biodiversity and reduces the planet's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.


Eating less meat can help to protect and preserve ecosystems and the countless species that depend on them.


4. Improved Water Quality: 


Animal agriculture is a major contributor to water pollution due to the discharge of animal waste and using fertilizers in feed production. 


By consuming less meat, we can alleviate the strain on water resources and improve overall water quality.


5. Health Benefits: 


Consuming excessive amounts of meat has been linked to various health issues, including heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer. 


Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in plant-based foods and low in meat can help lower the risk of chronic diseases and promote overall well-being. 


One of the key health benefits of eating less meat is a reduced risk of heart disease. 


High intake of red and processed meats has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes. 


By consuming plant-based alternatives, individuals can lower their intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, which are commonly found in meat products. 


Additionally, consuming less meat can also contribute to weight management. 


Plant-based diets tend to be lower in calories and higher in fiber, which can aid in weight loss and maintenance.


Individuals can improve their overall health and well-being by reducing meat intake and adopting a more plant-based diet.



Vegan meal

Sustainable Alternatives for a More Environmentally Friendly Diet


Whether through adopting a plant-based or flexitarian diet or incorporating alternative protein sources, individuals can make significant contributions towards a more environmentally friendly future.


Vegetarian or Vegan Diet:


One of the most effective sustainable alternatives is adopting a plant-based diet. 


A plant-based diet focuses on consuming plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains while minimizing or eliminating (Vegan Diet) animal products. 


This dietary choice significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with meat production. 


Flexitarian Diet:


Another sustainable alternative is embracing a flexitarian diet


This approach involves predominantly consuming plant-based foods while occasionally incorporating small amounts of meat or fish. 


The flexitarian diet allows individuals to enjoy the nutritional benefits of animal products while still minimizing their environmental impact. 


Alternative Protein Sources:


Tofu, tempeh, seitan, and legumes, offer a sustainable solution to the meat consumption dilemma. 


These protein-rich alternatives not only provide essential nutrients but also require fewer resources to produce compared to traditional meat sources. 


Incorporating these alternatives into meals can provide a satisfying and delicious experience while reducing the carbon footprint associated with animal agriculture.


There are also popular brands that provide plant-based meat alternatives such as “Beyond” and “Impossible.”


I recommend reading this article, “20 Plant-Based Meat Brands Every Vegetarian Should Know” to find other great plant-based meat brands.



My Final Thoughts on Eating Less Meat


I still love to cook and eat meat.  However, I have made a conscious effort to eat less meat.  


In the past, I would have consumed at least some form of meat for almost every meal.  


One of the ways I have replaced meat in my diet is through Heul’s hot and savory meals.


Today, I now consume meat around 2 or 3 times a week.


By eating less meat, we can actively reduce the environmental issues associated with meat production.


Shifting towards a more plant-based diet not only benefits the environment but can also enhance personal health. 


While the idea of completely giving up meat might seem daunting, even small changes can make a significant difference. 


Embracing meatless Mondays or opting for vegetarian alternatives a few times a week are simple steps toward reducing our ecological footprint. 


Additionally, exploring plant-based recipes and experimenting with diverse flavors can make the transition enjoyable and exciting. 


It is important to remember that every effort, no matter how small, contributes to a more sustainable future.


Table of Contents
  1. Humans Are Natural Omnivores
  2. Why Eating Less Meat is Better for the Environment
    1. 1. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
    2. 2. Preservation of Natural Resources:
    3. 3. Protection of Biodiversity:
    4. 4. Improved Water Quality:
    5. 5. Health Benefits:
  3. Sustainable Alternatives for a More Environmentally Friendly Diet
    1. Vegetarian or Vegan Diet:
    2. Flexitarian Diet:
    3. Alternative Protein Sources:
  4. My Final Thoughts on Eating Less Meat