The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Go Vegan!

Julia Jensen | Art Director
Fresh Veggies

The average person probably does not consider the harmful connections between the environment and a cheeseburger. As Americans, we live in a country that thrives on the meat industry. With every twist and turn, there is either a McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A waiting for us to snatch a to-go bag and enjoy some nuggets or a burger. 

However, what if I told you that the common factor between saving the environment and the decrease of global warming was in that delicious cheeseburger Happy Meal we enjoy so much? Veganism, vegetarianism and plant-based diets, in general, do not only have obvious physical health benefits but also environmental benefits. 

“Converting land to livestock production, which causes deforestation, and the agricultural practices of animal farms, are both ways that the meat industry directly worsens climate change,” said Hemi Kim, a writer for Sentiment Media. “When it comes to containing global warming, the greenhouse gases that are of greatest concern are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.” 

Grazing animals require a lot of land, which often leads to deforestation, like Kim said. Plant-based foods, like tofu, beans or nuts have a very low carbon footprint, which makes them more environmentally friendly choices when compared to meat.

I myself am not a full vegetarian, but I have developed a routine of eating vegetarian for one week, then the next week, I will go back to eating meat and have continued switching back and forth. My hope is to slowly work toward not needing meat. I want to learn more about the natural foods that can supplement my need for the proteins and things found in meat that I know my body needs. Then, I can work my way to being fully vegetarian in hopes of one day being completely vegan. 

I have already started by completely cutting out red meat and have not had any for about nine years. I began this journey because I had a lot of health issues as a kid and realized that the food we eat has a much bigger impact on our health than we often think. I watched this documentary on Netflix called “What the Health,” which talked a lot about the problems with the meat industry and our health and how being vegan is actually much better for us than people realize. It has physical health benefits but also major positive environmental effects. 

“The more meat we eat, the more grain is required to feed the animals that provide that meat—in addition to the extra water and land (often deforested) used to grow that grain, extra energy to harvest it and run the slaughterhouses, and extra chemicals to fertilize it and deter pests,” said Tracy Fernandez Rysavy, a writer for Green America magazine. “We save all of those resources and their related emissions by eating that grain directly.”

 The amount of grain needed to feed an animal is well over how much meat is produced from that animal. It is just not worth the trouble. We could be using all that grain to feed ourselves instead of worrying about making feed to produce meat and destroying the environment while doing it.

However, a thought I had before considering veganism was, is it not hard to be vegan? It seems so boring, just eating vegetables all the time, right? I might as well go outside, bend down and just start eating the grass because that is what it is going to be like as a vegan. However, this is all very untrue, and all silliness of grass-eating aside, being vegan or vegetarian is actually very satisfying and enjoyable. 

“It is not very difficult for me because I no longer crave meat, and it doesn’t have to be expensive,” said Dr. James Winchester, a philosophy professor at GC and vegetarian. “It actually opened up a whole new world of eating for me.”

Winchester has been a vegetarian for about 40 years. That is a lot of dedication, and if he can do it, I think I can definitely manage, and so can others. Whether a person is vegan, vegetarian or eats a plant-based diet, it does not have to mean their lifestyle of eating is boring or more expensive. There is an abundance of recipes and meals that can be made that are fun, delicious and inexpensive.

The benefits of going vegan or vegetarian outweigh any benefits of meat that there may be. It is not that everyone should be vegan right this second, but it should be taken into consideration how eating a plant-based diet has a lot of positive outcomes and may be something more people should consider implementing into their own diets.

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