Depending on who you ask, meat could be either a necessary element of every balanced meal or a threat to human health and the planet. My personal view of meat is in-between these two extremes and even varies based on the context. I love meat—at least when it’s healthy and flavorful. Back home, animals are raised in family farms and take several months (if not years) to mature, but here in the U.S., farming is done differently. Animals are overly fed with growth hormones in industrial settings, and the meat industry is associated with diseases, cruelty and excessive greenhouse gas emissions.
By hearing more about the meat industry and weighing the ratio of its threats to nutritive benefits, I’ve been more inclined to reduce my meat intake. I wouldn’t push anyone (not even myself) to become vegan; but if you are concerned about food quality, I’d say that a fresh plate of fruits is way healthier than a fatty, salt-saturated bacon sandwich.
If you’re planning on decreasing your meat consumption, the wide variety of food at the dining halls will definitely facilitate the transition. Danforth has a dedicated vegetarian station, while Douglass has been multiplying its meatless options recently. If you feel too addicted to meat, you can start by cutting your serving size of meat dishes by half and gradually reduce it. Try to stay away from processed and red meat, as they are, for obvious reasons, potential contributors to health risks.
I would also stress not to blindly assume that all non-meat dishes are healthy. For instance, you should think twice before considering vegan meat substitutes, as they might contain high levels of sodium that can damage your organism; but instead, prioritize fresh and natural food.
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2021