Amlan Shekhar Baruah
Although food is a basic necessity of life, but unfortunately, most of us are not conscious about what we eat. We keep on running after medicines and treatments whenever we fall ill, but we don’t care about the fact that it is what we eat that determines our health. We are what we eat. Nowadays, plant-based diets are of high priority not just for our health, but also for the benefit of the entire society as a whole. Let’s check the significance of plant-based diets from three perspectives – health, ethics, and environment.
Health: The biggest concern of the majority of humans regarding a plant-based diet is protein. It has long been believed that plant-based foods contain incomplete protein, i.e., plant proteins don’t have all the essential amino acids. But, this is a myth and was debunked long ago. Several studies have shown that almost all plant-based foods contain the essential amino acids in varying proportions. When it comes to the quantity of protein, a majority of humans consume about twice the amount of protein they actually need for the day! Protein-deficiency is actually very rare among humans who get enough food. Rather, excessive consumption of protein has been strongly claimed to cause cancer. Regarding other nutrients, we can get all of them from plants. Also, a plant-based diet puts you at a lower risk for health conditions like obesity and high blood pressure.
Ethical: Our actions determine our destiny. Animals are sentient beings like humans. They cannot be compared to plants. Cut any fruit or vegetable into pieces. Then try doing the same to a living animal. Which action is harder? Feeling a sense of mercy for the animal is a natural human reaction. And, comparing human lifestyle with that of carnivorous animals does not make sense because those animals must eat meat in order to survive. They have no other choice.
Environmental: Some people have the misconception that a plant-based lifestyle is more damaging to the environment than a meat-based one. They tend to think that killing animals is necessary to maintain the ecosystem. But, in reality, overpopulation will never be an issue if humans stop breeding animals. Contrary to popular belief, animal agriculture is actually far more devastating to the environment and ecosystem than plant agriculture. Large areas of grazing land are required to feed the livestock, which leads to mass destruction of forests and other regions of natural vegetation. Around half of the earth’s total habitable land is used for animal agriculture alone. Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors of deforestation, habitat destruction, species extinction, water depletion, and pollution. Also, about 50 per cent of the grains produced around the world are fed to livestock.
A plant-based lifestyle requires much less land and resources, causes less pollution, and is much more sustainable. If human beings adopt a plant-based diet, it might help heal the environment.