Our goal should be to reduce animal use, not eliminate it
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
I’m not going to lie, I feel guilty eating meat sometimes. In this day and age, there is immense pressure to become vegan or vegetarian for environmental reasons. I’m well aware that animal agriculture is one of the biggest causes of pollution, and that millions of cows are being killed in slaughterhouses so that I can eat a burger, and I do feel horrible about it. However, I’m also not in a position to change my diet and many others aren’t either.
I don’t think that there should be a be-all, end-all mentality with eating animal products. It’s an unhealthy standard. In my opinion, the goal should be to reduce, not eliminate.
Some vegans and animal rights groups strive to eliminate all meat and animal use, but I think that is too huge a thing to expect. Some people need meat and animal products in their diets, or they just choose to eat it. Regardless, it’s unrealistic to expect every single person to stop eating meat.
I think elimination is just impossible. Meat eating and animal agriculture is too ingrained in our society and too convenient to cut it out completely. Meat is incredibly accessible and cheap. Who can resist a burger for $1.79 when you’re hungry in a pinch and there’s fast food everywhere you go? This all-or-nothing method also discourages people from taking small steps to benefit the planet. By making the goal reduction, instead of elimination, it makes it sound more attainable and reasonable. When you have a goal that is easily reachable, there is more of a chance of achieving it.
There is even a term for this type of diet: It’s called Reducetarian and it was coined by Brian Kateman. He formulated the idea when he realized there is a lot of pressure for meat-eaters to stop eating meat, but not to cut down on it. By being a reducetarian, the goal is to cut back on all the animal products they eat—a goal that is easily attainable for everyone.
This aim of reduction is also more realistic in a long-term diet. According to Psychology Today, 86 percent of vegetarians and 70 percent of vegans end up returning to eating meat. By this logic, we can say that abstaining from meat for the long haul is no easy task. By making the goal to reduce our meat intake, people might find a diet that is both beneficial to the environment and easy to keep up with.
It’s okay if you can’t or don’t want to completely give up meat—but consider minimizing the amount you consume. Make a vegetarian meal once in a while, refrain from buying meat products for your home, or stop yourself from getting meaty dishes in restaurants. Even just one plant-based meal instead of a meaty one can reduce your carbon footprint, so there’s really nothing to lose.