The environment is a major concern on everybody’s minds and for good reason. One popular way to reduce your ecological footprint is by going vegan because factory farming is a huge problem. Not only does it contribute to deforestation and pollution but animals are treated horribly. But aside from going vegan, there are many ways to help that don’t involve giving up meat entirely.
1. Buy Locally
Support small farms near you. They’re more likely to treat their animals well and use more sustainable practices. Unlike large corporations, farmers live off the land so they have a vested interest in keeping it healthy. Their livestock is their livelihood, so they need to keep their animals happy and healthy. Get to know your local farmers and see how they treat their livestock.
Even among larger farms, some are better than others. Do some research on the places where you get your meat and see if there are any controversies associated with them. “Free range” and “organic” labels are too loosely regulated to mean anything, so take them with several grains of salt.
Meat isn’t the only animal product that you should do your research on. The seafood industry has many issues with overfishing and inhumane fishing practices. If you’re concerned about where you get your seafood, Oceana has a great resource for finding sustainable sources.
One day, your seafood or meat might not even come from an animal. There are scientists who are attempting to develop lab-grown meat, and they’ve made great strides in recent years. Supporting their efforts monetarily or by spreading the word could help make sure the next generation has more ethical choices.
3. Cut Down On Some Meat
You don’t have to give up meat completely, but eating less of it, especially red meat, can help reduce the demand for it overall.
Many people eat too much meat. According to some doctors, eating less meat could have a positive impact on your health. If you still need protein, try nuts, oats, and broccoli. How much you cut down depends on your dietary needs and other factors, but even a little bit can add up to a large impact.
There are also movements like Meatless Mondays that aim to cut down on meat consumption for one day out of the week.
4. Hunt Your Own Food
Nowadays the average consumer is distanced from the actual process of food production. It can be easy to forget that you’re eating an animal. By doing the hunting yourself, you’re taking charge of what you eat and making more informed decisions.
Many areas have problems with populations of animals such as rabbits and deer as well as invasive species. Those animals happen to be great sources of food. It’s a win-win situation: hunters bring down the population of problem species, and they’re able to eat.
There’s no shame in not being emotionally or physically able to hunt; this is just one possibility. Even in ancient times, there were people in the group who didn’t hunt but still ate meat. But you should still keep in mind that an animal had to die to provide the meat on your plate.
Wherever you choose to get your meat from, respect the life of the animal by not wasting food. Avoid factory farming when possible and support local farmers. Do your research to make sure the companies you’re supporting treat their animals humanely. By doing this, you not only help the planet, but you also make healthier choices for yourself.