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< Back to question Should we stop eating meat for the environment? Show more Show less

Several forms of pollution - e.g. deforestation, eutrophication of water, leaching of nitrates, antibacterial resistance, release of ammonia, nitrous oxides and methane in the atmosphere - are associated to livestock production. Should we stop eating meat to prevent major environmental pollution?

No - It is hard to maintain a nutritious diet Show more Show less

Meat contains important nutrients such as Vitamin B6 and B12 that are more difficult to obtain when eating plant-based, especially for those who lack time and resources for getting supplements or specific groceries.
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Meat-free diets are not necessarily nutritious

Cutting out meat is only the first step in a vegetarian diet. What you choose to eat instead of meat is equally important, and avoiding meat may just lead to a less nutritious diet. Don't forget, Oreo's are vegan!
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The Argument

There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan foods that are unhealthy, and cutting out meat does not change this. Eliminating meat is therefore not automatically healthier than meat-based diets. Plenty of plant-based meat substitutes are heavily processed and can be as equally unhealthy as meat.[1] Dietician Elena Fricke explains that "Many meat substitutes are highly processed foods," and "a lot of meat substitutes, they'll say their food is vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based, but it's not necessarily healthy." [2] Meat is often the most filling part of a meal, and meat-free diets can struggle to satisfy a person's hunger. As a result, some vegetarians and vegans overfill on refined carbohydrates to compensate for the lack of meat and unintentionally create less healthy diets. Avoiding meat does come with health and environmental benefits, but these benefits only materialise if it is substituted with healthy and sustainable alternatives. To ask people to avoid meat for the sake of leading healthier lives and saving the planet neglects the fact that there are plenty of other sources of unhealthy and unsustainable foods out there causing damage to our bodies and planet. Simply avoiding meat is therefore not the ultimate solution.

Counter arguments

The nutritional value of any diet, be in meat-based, vegan, or vegetarian, depends on the food you do end up eating. With a little bit of planning, meat-free diets can be equally or more healthy than meat-based diets. With a little research, meat-free diets can provide all of the necessary nutrients for a healthy diet. And in the same way that some meat-free diets can be unhealthy, meat-based diets can also be unhealthy. For example, many processed types of meat like chicken nuggets are meat-based but are also full of chemicals and carry no nutritional value.[3] To dismiss vegetarian diets because there are some unhealthy alternatives ignores the fact that there are plenty of healthy meat-free foods too.

Premises

[P1] Vegetarian diets are perceived as healthier than omnivore diets. [P2] Vegetarian diets don't provide as much nutrients as meat. [P3] Vegetarian meat substitutes are often highly processed. [P4] Vegetarian diets can therefore be just as unhealthy as omnivore diets.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.vox.com/2019/5/28/18626859/meatless-meat-explained-vegan-impossible-burger
  2. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/is-vegetarian-or-vegan-diet-healthy.html#:~:text=However%2C%20vegan%20and%20vegetarian%20diets,but%20it's%20not%20necessarily%20healthy.%20%22
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/jan/27/the-trouble-with-fake-meat-beetroot-burgers-food-substitutes

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 12 Aug 2020 at 23:12 UTC

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