Plant-Based Solutions to the Meat Industry

It is nearly undeniable to claim that eating other animals has a long history in

human evolution. Almost every culture has developed alongside meat consumption, and

some cultures, like the Netsilik Inuit, in the extreme polar north relied almost exclusively

on hunting and fishing for sustenance before the introduction of modern diets (Balikci,

1970). However, over the last century, meat consumption has become a huge problem

for sustainability as current industrial practices use outrageous amounts of water, land

and fuel, not to mention the ethical concerns of the abysmal treatment of sentient

creatures in factory farms (Gonzalez et al., 2020). Indeed, if the agricultural industry

moved to more sustainable and ethical model for meat production, the cost would rise

and access to the nutrition meat provides would plummet. On the other hand, there are

many groups of people that already adhere to a completely vegetarian diet, like the

Jainist people of India (Randels, 2008). Hence, there must be a way to provide nutrition

to everyone while allowing for limited consumption of meat.

To address the issue of sustainability in the meat industry, people need to reduce

the amount of meat they are eating, while at the same time, the food industry needs to

increase the amount of plant-based meat alternatives that it produces. First, it is unlikely

that everyone can give up meat entirely, and many cultural celebrations include meat as

a central part of their rituals. It is very difficult for many people to separate themselves

from their cultural identities and practices. Therefore, we should be encouraging people

to become “Flexitarians” — someone who is flexible with their diet, but still mostly eats

plant-based food day-to-day. If people move to mostly plant-based diets, it will stop

encouraging large scale factory farming. The situation could be even better if people

choose to consume ethically raised meat. If society is eating less meat, they will be able

to spend more money on quality meat raised in a way that respects both the animals’

lives and the environment. Secondly, the food industry should provide more options for

food that imitates the taste and sensation of meat for everyday foods. For example,

common North American foods like hamburger and sausages that are eaten as a

protein source on a near daily basis can be very easily imitated using plant-based

alternatives. Companies like ‘Beyond Meat’, which produces high quality plant-based

meat alternatives, are seeing huge profits because so the social push for more ethical

diets, especially since several fast-food chains are now offering plant-based

alternatives. However, only 1% of the current grocery store offerings are plant-based

meat alternatives (Good Food Institute, 2021); there is still a very long way to go for us

to solve this issue. We should not give up hope though as there are many examples of

humans adapting when their habits were endangering the environment, but this one will

be particularly difficult because it is related to something extremely close to our hearts –

our stomachs.


Balikci, A. (1970). The Netsilik Eskimo. Waveland Press.

Gonzalez, N., Marques, M., Nadal, M., & Domingo, J. L. (2020). Meat consumption:

Which are the current global risks? A review of recent (2010-2020) evidences.

Food Research International, 137. https://doi-

Good Food Institute. (2021). Industry. Retrieved from

Randels, G. D. (2008). Jainist Ethics. Sage Publications, Inc.

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