The one remark I get as a pescetarian more than any other goes along the lines of, "one person not eating meat will not make a difference in the world!" Allow me to say, if everyone in the world really thought that way, nothing would ever be accomplished. One person can cause a chain reaction. It all starts with a conscious attempt and knowledge that yes, everyone does in fact make a difference.
I have been a pescetarian, or a person who chooses to not eat primary consumers except fish and seafood for just over a year and a half. I decided on my 18th birthday to make this lifestyle change because I wanted to start making independent decisions and actively participating in a cause larger than myself instead of simply saying "yeah, I should do that." It is easier said than done.
I took a college level environmental science course in high school, and it really opened my eyes to just how harmful eating animals is to our environment. For every trophic level up on the food web you go, only 10% of that energy is received. That means that if you are eating an animal who eats another animal who eats plants, you are receiving a measly.1% of the energy originally created by the plant. This is an incredibly inefficient method of harvesting energy.
One of our society's greatest problems right now is world hunger. Although the allocation of resources is a great inhibitor in this struggle to resolve this dilemma, not eating meat could potentially help. If everyone in the world went vegan, meaning that everyone ate only plant products, there would be enough food to sustain everyone very easily. However, much of our plant resources go towards sustaining our livestock instead. If we associated those plant products to their respective locations where they are needed instead of feeding them to animals, the human population could be cheaply and easily maintained.
In addition to this point, our livestock greatly contributes to a process known as eutrophication. This means that runoff from farms, particularly excretion, leeches excess nutrients into nearby watersheds. This process actually ends up increasing algal blooms, therefore decreasing oxygen levels. This makes the watersheds unsuitable for many species of fish to live in, therefore decreasing biodiversity. In other terms, a large amount of livestock put in one area is extremely bad for nearby hydrospheres.
By cutting some or all of meat out of our diets, we will decrease the demand for livestock and therefore decrease the human impact on nearby watersheds.
Among these pressing issues, the number one killer in the United States is currently heart disease according to the CDC. It is known that high blood pressure and high cholesterol are essentially what cause heart disease. Red meat contains a large amount of bad cholesterol and saturated fat which is a contributing factor to a poor diet.
The second largest killer in the United States is cancer. 30% of all cancers in the United States have been linked to poor diet (pcrm.org). Poor diet also includes the over consumption of animal products because it has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease as previously described. As a side note, the seventh biggest killer in the US is diabetes, one of which kind is also due to a poor diet.
Eating less meat can help reduce the risk of these horrible diseases that kill millions of people every year.
In addition to saving lives, the health care expenditures due to these diseases in the United States alone is unfathomable. Literally hundreds of billions of dollars of lost productivity is usually due to heart disease ALONE in the United States (millionhearts.hhs.gov). Again, heart disease among other horrific and tragic death sentences can be prevented by having a balanced and healthy diet, ie. reducing red meat consumption.
Now that I have covered the more obvious reasons to go veg, allow me to explain why more personally I am doing what I do.
As a young child, we do not understand why we cage, fatten, abuse, and extremely eat pigs but treat dogs like our best friends. We are just told that that the right thing to do and we go with it. I went with it for a very long time, until I really stopped and thought, "wow, I would never eat my dog in a million years." Perhaps it is because humans see dogs as cuter, or livestock as tastier. Who does not love bacon, right?
Unfortunately, regardless of who is cuter and who is tastier, pigs have a higher intellectual and empathetic capacity than dogs (peta.org). The pig we are eating for breakfast that has been locked up in a cage all of its life and injected with hormones and genetically modified – empathizes more and understands more than the love of our life – our dogs.
Another question I get a lot is that "if you care about all animals equally, why do you still eat fish?"
Yes, aquaculture is not by any means perfect or humane. However, I still do struggle to get all of the protein that my body requires because I am very active. Because a fish's bone structure is much smaller than that of a land mammal, it is more environmentally friendly to eat fish. Therefore, fish / shellfish are my animals of choice to leave in my diet. However, I do try to eat one to two vegan meals every day and only eat fish sparingly. Plus, who does not love sushi?
I would be lying if I said that veganism is the way that everyone should go, because it is extremely difficult in our society and sometimes not proven to be the healthiest choice.
However, I would recommend considering cutting some meat out of your diet. #meatlessmondays are a thing! Every little bit helps, even if Joe Shmoe the carnivore says you are wrong with no statistical evidence.
One of my long time idols and vegan, Tim McIlrath, lead singer of Rise Against, states it more perfectly than I ever could. "When it all comes down, will you say you did everything you could?" In a world that is rapidly being depleted of resources and undergoing climate change, it is exceptionally important to keep this in mind.
And to the guy who shirt says "vegetarians are stupid, my food poops on your food" – I do not eat food that poops on food, so do not poop on my lifestyle.
My point: if you want to contribute to ending world hunger, sustain the growing human population, lower your environmental footprint, reduce the risk of precalent diseases, stimulate the economy, and go to sleep knowing that an animal that has the mental capacity greater than Fido who would have been aborted and slaughtered is not existing because you reduced the demand for it, eat less meat!