The consumption of meat is an essential part of a healthy diet and a critical indicator of economic development in any society. However, increased consumption and production of meat-related products have triggered some concerns related to the environment, water requirements, land pollution, and emission of greenhouse gases let alone loss of biodiversity. These are some of the problems that have triggered calls across the globe over reducing meat consumption. The deniable evidence of various adverse effects associated with the consumption of meat and its products in terms of the health of the society and the environment has led to the urgent need of creating awareness on why the society need to embrace meat alternatives to a greater extent. Although meat is considered one of the best protein sources, its continuous consumption tends to bring more harm than good.
Impact of Meat Consumptions on the Environment
Recent studies on global warming have identified the meat industry as one of the primary industries emitting a considerable amount of greenhouse gas. The aspect relates to the fact that the use of meat in various diets tends to change the ecological and water footprint in a considerable manner. Additionally, the process used in producing meat products has accounted for more than 20% of the present-day greenhouse gas emission (González et al., 2019, p.109341). Studies have also linked direct and indirect loss of forests in various regions across the globe with meat consumption. For instance, soy and beef production and consumption account for the immense deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and other parts such as Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil (Chaves et al., 2019, p. 739). Vast land areas are being cleared daily to pave the way for cattle farming and soybean production, as the latter is one of the significant animal feed farmers depend on for maximum production.
In most cases, the clearing of land comes along with the use of fire accounts for a massive release of carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere, affecting the ozone layer and the CO2 sink. The establishment of the meat industry in various parts of the world has been increasing the loss of biodiversity where many habitats are being destroyed to pave the way for animal rearing and planting multiple sources of animal feeds (Bschaden et al., 2020, p. 12). Research studies have identified that meat consumption and production account for the highest release of gasses such as nitrous oxide, methane, and CO2. These gases have been contributing to climate changes such as global warming, creating a need to embrace other alternatives widely available globally.
Meat alternatives refer to products that are used in place of meat in diets. Meat has been identified as one of the significant sources of protein in any diet. Therefore, for a meat analogue to be embraced fully, researchers claim that it must have a higher content of proteins in it. These alternatives include soya bread and spirulina tablets (Anzani et al., 2020, p. 109575). However, any attempt to change meat intake calls for recognizing various factors linked to its consumption. For instance, society needs to understand the harmful effects of increased consumption of meat and compare them with the benefits of using its alternatives (van der Weele et al., 2019, p. 506). For instance, increased meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of developing issues related to increased body cholesterol, such as blood pressure.
On the other hand, replacing meat with plant-based proteins such as legumes and tofu has been identified as one of the significant nutritional benefits that come along with the reduction of cholesterol in ones blood and help in lowering the level of glucose in the blood. The aspect relates to the fact that most of these plant-based food proteins do not have cholesterol and have low levels of saturated fats. The other merit of consuming some of these products is that they have a higher level of fiber that helps in digestion hence preventing the development of any digestion-related issues that are mostly accompanied by increased consumption of meat and its products (Kołodziejczak et al., 2021, p. 105). This aspect means that if society can embrace meat alternatives, its health will be enhanced, and the environment will be protected and pave the way for more production. Lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and diabetes will reduce to a greater extent, and the environmental degradation associated with increased meat consumption and its products will also be reversed.
Other alternatives that are used in place of meat include canned black pea that contain a lot of proteins. The merit of embracing these canned beans is that one can drain the packaging liquid and incorporate it in other recipes to increase the protein intake (Mendoza, Kelly and Cichy, 2017, p. 84). Alternatively, one can blend the beans and incorporate them in homemade veggie burgers to creamy dips to maximize in protein intake.
Meat and its related products have been identified as the primary source of proteins in the diet. However, its consumption and production have been causing some negative impacts on the environment. Researchers have determined that the rearing of animals and the growth of animal-related feeds account for a considerable release of greenhouse gases and environmental degradation. For these reasons, there have been concerns over the environmental pollution associated with meat consumption and production hence the need to embrace other alternatives. Society has been advised to embrace meat alternatives as they aid in not only protecting the environment but also they help in enhancing societal health. The art of being a vegetarian comes with reducing cholesterol accumulation in the blood and reducing incidences of blood pressure and diabetes.
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Bschaden, A., Mandarano, E., & Stroebele-Benschop, N. 2020. Effects of a documentary on consumer perception of the environmental impact of meat consumption. British Food Journal, 123(1), 177–189.
Chaves, W.A., Monroe, M.C. and Sieving, K.E., 2019. Wild meat trade and consumption in the Central Amazon, Brazil. Human Ecology, 47(5), pp.733-746.
González, N., Marquès, M., Nadal, M., & Domingo, J. L. 2020. Meat consumption: Which are the current global risks? A review of recent (2010–2020) evidences. Food Research International, 137, 109341.
Kołodziejczak, K., Onopiuk, A., Szpicer, A. and Poltorak, A., 2021. Meat Analogues in the Perspective of Recent Scientific Research: A Review. Foods, 11(1), p.105.
Mendoza, F.A., Kelly, J.D. and Cichy, K.A., 2017. Automated prediction of sensory scores for color and appearance in canned black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) using machine vision. International Journal of Food Properties, 20(1), pp.83-99.
Van der Weele, C., Feindt, P., van der Goot, A.J., van Mierlo, B. and van Boekel, M., 2019. Meat alternatives: an integrative comparison. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 88, pp.505- 512.