Top Pro & Con Arguments


Vegetarian diets are not necessarily better for the environment.

Raising beef is often the most efficient way to produce food for humans. About 85% of US grazing land is not suitable for raising crops humans can eat. [27] 98% of the original American prairie lands, along with their native plants and animals, are gone. [60] Most of that land is now covered in corn and wheat fields. Natural prairie grasslands can coexist with sustainable herds of cattle or bison, but they cannot coexist with monocrop agriculture.

Almost 100 million acres of farmland in the Corn Belt (about a third of the total farmland in the area) has lost all topsoil due to erosion, reducing corn and soybean yields by 6%, which is an almost $6 billion loss for farmers. The erosion also pollutes nearby waterways. [154]

94% of US soybeans (a vegetarian staple protein) and 92% of corn were genetically modified (GMOs), immune to herbicides. [43] [155] This immunity allows soy farmers to douse their fields with large quantities of weed-killing herbicides which are toxic to other plants and fish. Some scientists worry that increased herbicide use could create “super weeds.” [44]

Processed vegetarian protein options such as tofu can cause more greenhouse gas pollution than farming meat. A 2010 report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that the production of soy-based proteins such as tofu could contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions than eating locally produced meat. [16] Giving up all animal products would only give a 7% reduction in green house gas emissions. [106]

Vegetarian diets can cause the death of animals too. According to a 2003 study by Steven Davis at Oregon State University, about six animals per acre, or 52-77% of the animals (such as birds, mice, and rabbits) that live in agricultural crop fields, are killed during harvest. [118]

Further, it is not necessary to become vegetarian to lower our environmental footprint. Some vegetarians eat an unhealthy diet, drive SUVs, and consume eggs and dairy products produced at factory farms (CAFOs). Some meat eaters use solar panels, ride bikes, grow their own vegetables, and eat free-range organic meat. All of a person’s actions make a difference—not just a single act such as eating meat.

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