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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Call for Consciousness

A friend recently emailed me a disturbing video she'd discovered from a factory farm, and I was reminded again of one reason behind my conscious effort to eat a vegetarian diet. Don’t worry; I’m not using the topic of vegetarianism to reprimand anyone who eats meat (something I’ve found some people are quick to assume). Rather, I'm hoping my basis for a personal lifestyle choice will help you consider and be conscious of your own choices.

Certain health benefits are linked to vegetarian diets. For example, those who rely on plant foods as sources of nutrition generally consume less saturated fats and cholesterol. Furthermore, studies have shown that those with balanced and nutritious vegetarian diets have lower incidence of certain types of cancer, have better heart health, and have lower rates of diabetes. These health-related studies are interesting to explore, though my initial decision to give up meat last year was mainly based on reasons related to the environment and animal welfare.

Because of the magnitude of the meat industry today, avoiding meat is healthier for the planet. A study done by the University of Chicago states, “The food that people eat is just as important as what kind of cars they drive when it comes to creating greenhouse-gas emissions.” In fact, the international meat industry generates about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and, according to University of Chicago research, a vegetarian diet can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Reports from the UN also state that the meat industry is one of the top contributors to land degradation, water shortage, and air and water pollution.

You know what they say… if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. After I sought out information last year about the treatment of animals in the meat industry, the conditions, and accounts from slaughterhouses, I couldn’t help feeling immediately repulsed. I won’t go into the details I’ve discovered; you can seek out that information if you choose to. But the neglect, torture, and unimaginable conditions that are a part of producing our meat became a driving reason behind my personal choice. As a consumer, I don’t want to support any such industry.

All this being said, I admit to slipping up from time to time; hey, no one’s perfect. I occasionally turn into a social omnivore when I am someone’s meal guest, indulging if they serve meat (and if it’s free-range and grass fed, all the better!). And of course, there are certain ways to eat meat that consciously avoid many of the issues I’ve mentioned- you just have to put in a bit more effort. But, though it may be hard to believe, I still find enjoyable alternatives to meat all the time; never underestimate a black bean burger or some lentil tacos!

When it comes down to it, it’s important to make our choices deliberately and independently, to recognize our weight as individuals, and to stand up for the issues we care about. No matter your own preferences, or eating habits, being an educated and conscious individual will help improve the world we live in.

Corinna Ace


Anonymous Ian Johnson said...

Great posting Corinna! I agree that being an educated consumer is incredibly important. It is truly amazing how little we know about what goes into our mouths every day. I have a feeling that if we knew, our dietary habits would radically change. If you haven’t already seen it, I would recommend watching Robert Kenner’s “Food, Inc.” It’s a film that sheds some serious light on why a Big Mac is $1 and a bag of spinach is $3. Hint: It may or may not have something to do with corporate interests.

March 5, 2010 at 11:41 AM  

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