Top Pro & Con Arguments


A vegetarian diet is better for the environment.

Overgrazing livestock hurts the environment through soil compaction, erosion, and harm to native plants and animals. Grazing has also damaged streams and riparian areas in the western United States. And, grazing has been a factor in the listing of at least 171 species of animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act because the large tracts of flat land interrupt natural habitats. Abstaining from eating meat would help restore land more naturally suited to provide habitat for native plants and animals. [29] [92] [93]

A vegetarian diet also conserves water. Producing one pound of beef takes about 1,800 gallons of water, on pound of pork uses about 576 gallons, one pound of turkey needs about 486 gallons, and each pound of chicken requires about 468 gallons. Meanwhile, a pound of tofu only takes about 302 gallons. [151] [152] [153]

Additionally, raising animals for food contributes to air and water pollution. Manure produces toxic hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, which pollute the air and leach poisonous nitrates into nearby waters. Runoff laden with manure is a major cause of “dead zones” in 173,000 miles of U.S. waterways, including the 7,700-square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. [32] [115] [166]

All told, a vegetarian diet leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are created by enteric fermentation (aka animal farts and burps), manure decomposition, and deforestation to make room for grazing animals and growing feed. Diets including meat cause the creation of up to 54% more greenhouse gas emissions than vegetarian diets. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, a “worldwide diet change away from animal products” is necessary to stop the worst effects of global climate change. [104] [134]

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