Seaspiracy pushed me over the edge.
I want to get ahead of any backlash before I continue, as I have read many articles talking about the things the movie gets wrong. You should absolutely read these articles after watching the film to get a better sense of the situation.
Here’s the simple fact, humans don’t need to eat animals to live.
You can argue with some of the film’s points and questionable data. But that doesn’t invalidate the main point. Over-fishing, net pollution, and the killing of non-target animals could all be avoided by not eating seafood. Which then raises the question of why are we eating any animals at all?
I talked with a friend of mine who did a month of eating only whole plants. He had not seen the Seasiracy documentary yet but pointed me in the direction of the film’s predecessor, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives.
I now see three very strong reasons to avoid eating animal products.
- Unnecessary killing and poor treatment of living creatures
- Consumption of animal products being linked to reduced health and diseases
- Raising livestock is not efficient or sustainable
Please also understand that I am writing this article for the wealthy. Unfortunately, the American government subsidizes meat, making it the only realistic choice for many people based purely upon price.
No Need to Kill
I’ve always struggled with the idea of killing animals for food. I can understand its historical value and why it may be ingrained in some lifestyles, but let’s take a fresh look at society today. We have a much better understanding of nutrition, and that meat is not necessary to live.
Harvard Health recommends that you “Get your protein from plants when possible.”
You do not need animal protein to live. Therefore if you have the means, any meat you eat is excess to the amount necessary to survive.
We treat human beings equally. Shouldn’t all living creatures should be treated with the same respect? Why would you kill another living creature when you don’t have to?
Here’s a rabbit hole, though… Plants are alive too. It would be fair to consider a diet like fruitarianism, where you only eat the seeds and fruits of living plants. I think you have to draw a line somewhere to ensure you get all the nutrition you need. I can’t justify killing an animal because they’re alive like the plants I’m willing to eat. Having a nervous system and caring for and raising young should yield an empathy similar to those we give our human companions.
Thinking About Health
Cedar-Sinai says people on vegetarian or vegan diets (which often rely on plant protein) are at a lower risk of certain diseases, including cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and ischemic heart disease.
The main argument for eating animal protein is because it contains all amino acids. But these amino acids are still found in plant proteins. It would help if you were diverse in your food choices. Another issue is an inability to get B-12 which produces red blood cells. You may struggle to find Omega-3 fatty acid, but this can be obtained from other sources besides the highly publicized oily fish. Supplements may help with both of these areas.
This is something that I never truly considered. About 40% of our habitable land is used for meat and dairy. If everyone were to adopt the average diet of the United States, we would need to convert all of our habitable lands to agriculture, and we’d still be 38 percent short. We continue destroying forests to have more land to raise animals to eat.
About 15% of our greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock. 24% is from transportation—we are more willing to switch our cars to electric than our protein from living creatures. Yet reducing the amount of land used for livestock could dramatically help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
How It Went
My wife has always been on the lookout for improving our nutrition. She and my daughter recently stopped eating chicken after we raised some ladies to lay eggs. I have always just ignored my meat consumption. I do not eat a lot of red meat as I’ve always preferred the taste of seafood. However, in 2016 I started becoming more aware as processed meat was identified as a carcinogen. I tried my best to reduce my bacon consumption, but sausages were still finding their way on our meal plans.
A friend of mine said that his family would go the month of April without eating meat, and we decided to join him. When we told the kids, they were a little unsure but willing to go along. We had some leftover sausage that I cooked in my son’s omelet for the first week as I don’t see the need to waste food. After the sausage was gone, the biggest meal eater was willing to eat his meals. His opinion, “They’re fine. I wouldn’t ask for them again. But they’re fine.”
Our daughter would probably survive on just bread, tortillas, plain pasta, and berries if we let her. She would be complaining about most meals we would serve her anyways. She’s not interested in tofu and did not enjoy the Impossible burger I made one night because she knew it wasn’t a real burger. She occasionally had some leftover tuna salad I made as well.
My wife tries to avoid dairy besides desserts, and most dinners we had were vegan. I added some cheese to the bean burritos I made and to my son’s Impossible burger, but otherwise, it has been mostly vegetables, beans, tofu, and rice. She will grill vegetables and mushrooms and have that with eggs and avocado.
I honestly enjoy beans and rice. Whenever we would go to a Mexican restaurant, I would be as excited for the sides as much as the entree. I also really enjoy curries. We found a green curry recipe that tasted pretty similar to what I used to eat for lunches in Boulder. Since we are still eating cheese, I did have a surprisingly good deep dish veggie pizza from Little Caesars and a stuffed pizza from Giordano’s on my birthday.
I’m still eating some protein bars with dairy protein in them, but I switched my daily protein powder to a vegan-friendly pea protein, Orgain. We also switched out the cow’s milk for oat milk and have been pleasantly surprised by how similar it is. I even ate some cereal and went back for a second bowl. I also switched my vitamins to vegan versions and have not seen any adverse performance in my running as my streak continues.
What the Future Holds
I still don’t know if I’m going to go back to eating meat. It’s frustrating when you see the rest of America not seem to care. Eating meat doesn’t have the same social stigmas as something like smoking does. I would think you’re more likely to have a hard time being a vegan in America than you are to be someone who refuses to drink.
Like most of life, it’s mental. I don’t expect to be given a hard time by my family and friends if I chose to become vegan or vegetarian, but I will wonder if my choices will impact anyone else or society. Investing my money in companies like Beyond Meat probably has more impact than me just not eating animal proteins.
I will keep looking for animal protein alternatives and putting my health first. I need to continue challenging my own beliefs and encourage my children to do the same.