Take the pledge go veg

If you're like most people, including myself, you enjoy eating meat. I mean, it's just plain delicious. But that platter of juicy, tender meat succulence doesn't find its way to your dinner table without great sacrifice. Animal agriculture takes a huge toll on our environment, and more harm is done than good to make sure you get your meat fix.

Meat Eats Up Natural Resources
Air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, water contamination, the release of methane gas, the list goes on. Raising animals for food has many negative impacts on the environment. Florine Morrison, owner of vegan restaurant Veg Out on Richmond Street, said that the meat industry demands a lot from our environment. “When you grow livestock as oppos ed to vegetables, you're using far more water, electricity and land space,” she stated. “Because when you grow animals, you need to grow food for them. So you're not just growing the animals, you''re growing the corn, you're using water, you're using pesticides, you're using hormones, you're using many times the amount of energy as opposed to just growing a field of corn.”

And indeed, according to David Alexander, executive director of the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA), “In order to generate about a kilogram of usable meat, you have to invest three kilograms of feed just to sustain that animal.”

Large-Scale Farms, Large-Scale Problem
Alexander revealed that the detriments of animal agriculture even extend to climate change. “The United Nations released a study about five years ago that estimated that livestock accounts for 18 per cent of global climate change,” he said. “There are specific environmental risks associated, that affect for example, nearby waterways and the land around a large-scale farming operation, and, of course, emissions. In terms of climate change, one of the big emitters is methane gas.”

“Large-scale cattle farms are another issue. Because of the size of these farms, they're more likely to create what's called a ‘manure lagoon,' which is exactly what you're thinking. This pile of waste can sometimes contaminate waterways and cause a nitrate toxicity in food.”

Positive Plant Production
“When you grow plant-based foods for people, you don't have to grow as many,” said Alexander. “In Canada, for example, about three quarters of all the cereal grains produced are actually fed to the animals that we eat. So immediately, you're reducing the amount of farming that has to happen, which means your reducing things like transportation, and processing and refrigeration, all that kind of stuff, too.”

Start Simple
“In terms of the impact of everyone taking one day out of the week and doing something like Meatless Mondays, I think it would have a really large impact. You'd see global climate emissions go down,”Alexander suggested. “It's a great first step for anyone to take to cut out meat one day a week.”

Now's the Time to Get Your Greens
If you're a meat enthusiast like myself, it may be hard to make the switch to a greener diet at first, but over time, Morrison said that vtaking on a more vegetarian lifestyle is completely doable, and there's no better time to do it than now. “Ten years ago, when I went vegan, it was very difficult,” she said. “You couldn't find soy milk at every store, you couldn't find imitation cheeses at every store; I'd say now's the time and it's pretty easy. All you have to do is check out the health food section. Eat lots of vegetables, don't worry so much about trying fake meat products; there's enough beans, rice and vegetables to satisfy you.”
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