Oracle After Hours: Benefits of a plant-based diet outgrow consuming meat

Mia Rojas, columnist

Last May, I wrote a column on the notion “adopt don’t shop”. The piece passionately tells of the corruption of the dog breeding industry when there are 300 million stray dogs around the world, according to a National Geographic study in January 2020. 

I was so frustrated with the world for ignoring the gravity of this crisis. How could they support an industry that keeps stray dogs on the streets and not in warm homes? How could someone support a business that mistreats animals like that? 

The very night I wrote that column, I angrily chomped away at my hamburger while letting these arrogant thoughts flood my head. 

Did I mention I was eating a hamburger? 

Yes, well I was eating a hamburger while lecturing people about the wellbeing of animals.

Now if you know anything about ethics you would probably diagnose this morally flawed situation as “a hot mess”. 

This night always makes me laugh at how high I was on my own horse, I could not see the hypocrisy of my own actions.

Since last July I’ve been vegetarian and recently vegan. I finally recognized my flawed moral reasoning and pushed aside the chicken for some tofu. Let me tell you, in my extensive 16 years of life experience, that might have been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

Animal welfare isn’t the only reason I made the switch though. Issues such as heart disease, deforestation, food shortages and rising sea levels can all be traced back to animal agriculture. 

According to a Harvard study done in September 2012, scientists found that heart disease and diabetes are the two leading causes of death for Americans. The same study also states that red meat consumption can lead to a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death.

I have even noticed a difference within myself and my mood. I feel more energized, less irritable and full for longer when eating whole, plant-based foods. Even the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the United States’ largest organization of food and nutrition professionals) proclaim veganism to be suitable for all stages of life.

We would not only be more nutritionally adequate with a plant-based diet, but we could also feed more citizens according to a  study from Cornell University in August 2017. The study states that if all the food currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million. Essentially this means we could be feeding the whole United States population two-and-a-half times with only the food given to farm animals.

Animal agriculture not only drains our food supply but also causes deforestation to make room for animal feed and grazing. Greenpeace International revealed that a third of all biodiversity loss is attributed to animal agriculture. This causes a rise in fossil fuels in our atmosphere leading to the acidification of oceans, the killing of marine life and the melting of the arctic.

I used to think that vegan food was hard to come by, bland and flavorless but now I know I can still enjoy burgers, sausages and ice cream; just plant-based versions instead. There are so many options out there and so much time at home to try new recipes (or every flavor of dairy-free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream). 

So why not give it a try? You don’t have to be perfect, but every step towards a plant-based diet helps clear the way for a cleaner and kinder world for our future generations.