by Matilde Ruo, (4BS)
Meat has become an issue since we have realized its impact on our planet, in terms of carbon emissions and animals’ treatments in intensive farming. The question is how humans can be effective on this problem. What can and should we do concretely in order to prevent any further negative consequences on the environment?
Last week, I watched a documentary about Global Warming named Before the Flood with Leonardo DiCaprio. I was shocked when I learnt that the greatest percentage of methane released into the atmosphere was by cattle. Moreover, methane has a more negative effect on the environment than carbon dioxide. The documentary suggests decreasing the amount of beef eaten and shifting to chickens which do not release as much methane as cows do. This seems to be a very convenient solution. Indeed, it would allow us to eat meat, but also be more respectful of our Planet. However, this is not enough.
According to another short documentary we watched last week in class (‘Explained’, Season 2, Episode 8), humans can significantly reduce the amount of meat – of all kinds – eaten. Due to this change in our behavior, intensive farming might not be needed anymore. Moreover, the carbon emissions may decrease steadily. Nevertheless, people may be concerned about their diet. For instance, they might wonder how to obtain the proteins they require. Personally, I would suggest eating other sources of protein such as legumes. However, the documentary points out how the iron heme present in meat is essential. Other sources of iron exist, though they are not the same since iron heme comes directly from haemoglobin. So, how can we prevent having a lack of this iron? This question remains unanswered.
Another side of this whole issue is the cultural one. I would not be reluctant to say that Western Countries can afford this shift economically, but not culturally. It is crystal clear that our diet is based on meat, therefore it is extremely difficult to quit eating it. A possible solution might be reducing the amount of meat eaten per week. If everyone makes this effort, it might be effective. If I think about the Italian culture, I am a bit worried due to our mindset. Nevertheless, I strongly believe we can adjust. On the other hand, if I think about other countries, especially developing ones, the situation is more difficult to be changed because of the socio-economic context. All in all, the cultural point is challenging, but not impossible to tackle if we work hard.
In addition, I think educating people about this issue may make a huge difference. As far as I am concerned, being aware of the problem is the first step forward in order to be effective. Personally speaking, I have been becoming more conscious about this topic since watching these and other documentaries. This has helped me collect data and opinions. As a result, I have started to think deeply about this issue and to sum up, I strongly believe that education might represent a great opportunity for mankind to be aware and share ideas.
Considering this, I would suggest informing ourselves in order to be as purposeful as possible. Every aspect of this issue is essential given its complexity. The cultural, economic, political and ethical points of view are all important. Lastly, sharing opinions is as fundamental as breathing since it is possible to figure this issue out thanks to all of us. After all, we are all in this together!