Eating meat raises many ethical and moral issues, which hits heart to many individuals whether they are hard core vegans, vegetarians, or even omnivorous meat eaters with a conscience. I practiced vegetarianism for about 3-4 years, and I have to admit, I never felt better. My body felt very clean and well functioning, I felt lighter and never experienced any bloating feelings in my gut.
There are pros and cons on both sides of the spectrum. Some say that meat is essential to our diet in order to receive adequate protein and proper nutrients. In the end it boils down to your individual body. Everyone’s body requires it own very unique needs for nutrients. Depending on your body type, lifestyle, and beliefs and values, the need for meat in your diet may vary. My best recommendation I can give is to experiment with different dietary regulations and see how your body responds. Try a cleans for a month of no meat, or a vegan diet, or a gluten-free detox, or a dairy-free detox, and see how your body reacts. Some people require certain nutrients for their vitality that others are better off without. It is silly to try and put all people into a general box since everyone is different.
As I mentioned, my body responded very well to obtaining from meat. When I first made the transition to practicing vegetarianism, I made my decision based on important ethical reasons.
Majority of meat out there is raised in very unsustainable manners. The animals are generally treated with no respect for the dignity of life, and are fed artificial diets of corn and cereal grains to fatten them up. Unfortunately a lot of the animal feed comes from genetically modified crops, which can have serious longterm health implications for the animals, the land used to grow the crops, and for us the consumers who eat the animals. Many times hormones are used to create a more efficient business out of raising animals for consumption, and antibiotics are used plentifully to avoid diseases caused by the poor living conditions.
There is also the ecological impact from the mass production of animals for consumption. Since consumers want to purchase and eat meat at the lowest cost (dollar-wise) possible, they choose to ignore the impact their decisions have on the planet. The amount of fresh water that goes in to raising the animals and to produce the genetically modified crops to feed the animals is depleting the world’s supply of fresh, healthy water at an alarming rate.
The meat we find in our grocery stores and at most restaurants has travelled great distances to reach our plate. The carbon footprint due to transporting the meat around the globe is a serious cause of the increase of pollution and harmful substances in the atmosphere.
Although the ethical concerns for eating meat are vastly nerve-wracking, there are alternatives available that still allow the consumer to eat their meat without such a cost to our global holistic health. Such an example can be found in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Here at the top of Kensington Street, you can find the butcher shop Sanagan’s Meat Locker. Sanagan’s offers a wide range of animal cuts; beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc., and even products such as fresh made chicken stock and breads, which are all products of local Ontario farmers. This independent small business supports the local economy and local farmers by providing only their products to the public. Here you can find meat which has been raised in ethical ways, with the ability to reduce your own carbon footprint with its purchase. Making the switch from the big chain supermarket to the local independent butcher may seem like it will cost you more money, however I find the prices to be around par.
When given the option, I would definitely choose to support my local small businesses, especially when the ripple effect makes such a huge difference. Since I have started eating meat again due to my education and training in culinary school, I have found that shopping here makes such a difference in the quality of my cooking.
Even if you are not living in Toronto, there are always alternative options available, you just may need to do a little research. Especially come the spring time, which is just around the corner, farmers markets will be opening up in plenty, to provide the public with the local sustainable produce, and at such a more affordable cost – both in dollars and to the planet.