Vegetarian or Omnivore?


"Vegetarian or Omnivore: The Environmental Implications of Diet." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.


     This was a news article that discussed the pros and cons of being vegetarian based on how the lifestyle impacts the environment. The article had many valid points like "If we feed plants to animals, and then eat the animals, we use more resources and produce more greenhouse gases than if we simply eat the plants". However, it is not that simple. Although beef is always climatically costly, pork or chicken can be a better choice than broccoli, calorie for calorie.

     Cattle is not the most environmentally friendly choice when it comes to eat meat, because is produces methane gas when eating: in one year a cow produces 100 kilograms of methane which is equivalent to 235 gallons of burnt gasoline emissions. Cattle also produces one calf per year, making it more environmentally costly to raise and to feed. Though raising meat is degrading the environment, if someone were to stop eating meat, they would need to replenish the calories with vegetarian options and therefore would need more vegetables to get the same amount of calories. For example, you would have to replace a kilogram of beef with 6.7 kilograms of broccoli, which would do more harm than good. By looking at the chart, you can see how different food sources add up in terms of calories as well as damage to the environment. In the end, the vegetables that give the most calories are better for the environment because there is no need to overproduce them, which takes up the most resources.

     The article summarizes that there is no real way to tell what food has a larger impact on the environment. For example, you do not know if the strawberries you buy from you local farmer have a bigger environmental footprint than the strawberries you buy at the grocery store because one might grow more efficiently reprint on where it is grown. For livestock, it is more efficient to keep the animals in confined spaces rather than roaming around. In the end, "our obligation isn’t to minimize our carbon footprint at the expense of all other considerations; it’s to try to be prudent, taking those considerations into account".

Ethical Issues:

     This article shows that the best way to help the environment may not be the easiest. For example, the rights of animals are at stake when it comes to their living conditions. The horrible commercials that we see on the television showing confined animals going up for slaughter is actually a lot more efficient than letting them roam freely. By cutting back on meat, we may just be harming the environment just the same because it would take up more resources to grow crops to allow us to eat the same amount of calories.

Personal Opinion:

     I think that humans should at least reduce their consumption of meat, our at least the meat that is very harmful to the environment to produce. However, I do not think that meat consumption should be eradicated because then people would use more resources and energy to produce the same amount of calories needed for sustaining life. I am at war with myself over the second issue in that I want animals to be justly treated but yet their treatment causes a lot more environmental damage than keeping them confined. However, I am leaning towards keeping animals cage free because if we curb our consumption, then there will not be a need to keep animals confined because there will not be as many animals to raise. What would you do if you had the option to control the world's diet? Would you eradicate the consumption meat or would you allow meat production to continue? Would you yourself go vegetarian?