Vegetarianism has been adopted by different people and cultures since the beginning of human history. However, up until recently, vegetarianism has primarily been a lifestyle resulting from religion or distaste towards meat. With the rise of interest in a vegetarian lifestyle, what are the pros and cons of vegetarianism?
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Vegetarianism promotes both personal wellbeing and environmental conservation.
Carbon footprint is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide) that are released into the atmosphere as a result of a particular human activity. Carbon emissions from agriculture stem from soil management, energy use, manure, and more. Currently, emissions from food "contribute 19%-29% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions." Meanwhile, total emissions from global livestock contribute around 14.5% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This means that more than half of all food emissions result from animal products. Livestock not only take more energy to produce, which contributes to the high amount of carbon emissions, but animals such as cattle also release methane. Emissions from animal products can effectively be cut down by reducing or altogether eliminating animal products from diet.
Plants and vegetables have a much smaller carbon footprint. The average vegetarian diet produces "the equivalent of about 8.4 pounds of carbon dioxide per day," which is half as much as that of "high-meat" diets (15.8 pounds of carbon dioxide per day). By reducing or eliminating animal-based diets, carbon emissions can be drastically reduced, which would serve to better our environment in slowing down global warming and climate change.
[P1] Meat products produce more greenhouse gases than plants or vegetables.
[P2] Greenhouse gases are negatively impacting the environment and need to be reduced.
[P3] Not consuming meat products helps the environment.