A taste of a postsecondary level moral philosophy class can turn you off of tasting meat. It’s been debated for thousands of years if learning moral philosophy actually changes how people live. Does knowing about the complexities of ethics actually make you more ethical? Short answer: yes. In a recent study a team of researchers and philosophers tested out if moral education about meat consumption would change their diet.
And it worked! Not only were students in the meat ethics sections likelier to say they thought eating factory-farmed meat is unethical, analysis of their dining cards — basically debit cards issued as part of UC Riverside’s meal plan that students can use to buy meals on campus — suggested that they bought less meat too. Fifty-two percent of dining card purchases for both the control and treatment groups were of meat products before the class. After the class, the treatment group’s percentage fell to 45 percent.
This effect wasn’t driven by a few students becoming vegetarians, but by all students buying slightly less meat. It’s possible this effect was temporary; the authors only had a few weeks of data. But it at least lasted for several weeks.
The meat industry is one of the leading drivers of the recent spat of fires in Brazil, and globally the meat industry is a major factor in the climate crisis. If we’re going to avert catastrophe we’re going to need people to change their diets in one simple way: cutting out meat. If people don’t want to cut out meat entirely, that’s ok, as long as they reduce their meat consumption. As a society we can reduce everyone’s meat consumption very easily by just providing meatless meals in cafeterias.
Emma Garnett and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, collected data on more than 94,000 meals sold in 3 of the cafeterias at the university in 2017. When the proportion of meatless options doubled from one to two of four choices, overall sales remained about constant. But sales of meat-containing meals dropped, and sales of vegetarian meals, such as “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”, rose 40–80%.
Producing food takes a lot of energy regardless of where it comes from, but some foods require a lot more input than others. In general it takes way more energy to feed people meat than it does a plant based diet because the animals need to be fed before they are slaughtered. A meat diet impacts the environment in a negative way.
Fret not though as you can greatly lower your carbon emissions by just eating less meat. It’s easy to be vegetarian, and it’s even easier to slowly transition to a plant focussed diet. Furthermore, not only is switching to a primarily plant based diet good for the planet it is also good for your health. It’s a simple way to make the world and yourself better.
If the global population followed the health eating guidelines published by the World Cancer Research Fund International and World Health Organization, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would drop 29 per cent compared to the baseline scenario. The elimination of red meat and poultry entirely would lower emissions by 55 per cent, while a vegan diet would reduce them by 70 per cent. Rates of early mortality would also decline by 6 to 10 per cent, depending on the scenario.
Good news for vegetarians! If you’re a vegetarian then you’re probably smarter than the average person according to some research. It turns out that people who opt for a meat free diet tend to be better able to confront the reality of the modern diet (which is that we don’t need to kill animals to live a healthy human life). We have seen studies like this for years that say vegetarians are smart, that they are happier, and that they live longer.
There’s no better time than now to eat more veggies and less meat.
Another scientific theory, Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, supports the correlation between a vegetarian diet and higher intelligence. Satoshi Kanzawa, an evolutionary psychologist, suggests the ability to change personal habits in reply to challenges in the world is strongest in people with higher empathy and intelligence levels. There is a strict link between a person’s ability to easily adapt their habits to “evolutionary novels” and higher IQ.
Intelligent people cope more easily with situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment (such as modern dietary options). While our ancestors had to face constant food scarcity, we often face the opposite problem: abundance. Intelligent people are more likely to make wiser choices about what they eat, considering both their own health and animal welfare issues.
With every passing year more and more research points out that eating a diet with less meat (than the average amount consumed per person) is good for your health and really good for the planet. This is good news in itself, and what’s better is that the post-boomer population are forcing restaurants to change their menu.
People are ordering less meat at restaurants, eating more veggie meals, and less likely to go to meat-focused resturants. This will decrease the carbon footprint of most people since veggie food requires less energy to make.
Earlier this year, the Chicago-based food research firm Technomic surveyed 1,500 people online and concluded that in order to attract millennial customers, restaurants must offer vegetarian and vegan meals. The report showed 45 percent of younger consumers either regularly eat vegetarian and vegan food or follow a vegetarian diet. The number falls to 30 percent in older people.
With the number of vegetarian dishes on restaurant menus growing and the number of vegetarian products in stores on the rise, it seems logical to assume the number of vegetarians is also growing. But the numbers, which have remained relatively flat in recent years, don’t support that.