Benefits of Becoming a Semi-Vegetarian
Saying you are a semi-vegetarian is a bit ironic; since you are either a vegetarian or you are not. While the “formal” definition of a semi-vegetarian is someone who eats fish and/or chicken but not beef, there are different degrees of semi-vegetarianism. Semi-vegetarianism may provide you with a realistic way to improve your health, the planet and the lives of animals, while enjoying the occasional seasoned chicken breast.
Being a semi-vegetarian in many ways can be compared to driving a car. The best way to stop the emissions of CO2 is to not drive at all and get everywhere on foot, bike or public transport – aka vegan or vegetarianism. However, by reducing the amount you drive and walking/biking for short trips, and reducing the amount you drive, you can still significantly reduce the CO2 emissions you are contributing to the atmosphere – aka semi-vegetarianism. For many people, this may be a more realistic option.
How to Become a Semi-Vegetarian
The first step is to reduce your meat consumption. You can do this in several ways. Let’s use lasagne as an example:
- You could make vegetarian lasagne
- You could reduce the amount of meat you use in the lasagne and replace it with beans or lentils
- You could replace the beef with chicken (since chicken takes fewer resources to produce than beef)
- You could use the usual amount of meat and eat lasagne less often
- It's even possible in Germany, the land famous for their sausages. My favorite vegetarian dish in Germany is Kaese Spaetzle (German Mac and Cheese).
In your daily life, when you’re not eating lasagne, becoming a semi-vegetarian offers a multitude of options:
- Only include meat at one meal a day
- Use less meat in your cooking that you normally would
- Only meat one or two days a week
- Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth in cooking
- Avoid beef which is resource intensive to produce
The options are as endless as your imagination and commitment to becoming a semi-vegetarian
Health Benefits of Being a Vegetarian
Heath Benefits of Becoming a Semi-Vegetarian
The health benefits of people who consume a plant based diet and eat less meat are widely known and include: a lower risk of cancer by as much as 20 – 50% and heart disease by over 20%. People consuming primarily a plant-based diet may also: have lower cholesterol levels, improve their blood sugar control and have lower rates of obesity. Source: Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets. A vegetarian may see even further benefits than a semi-vegetarian, but there is no doubt that a plant based diet will lead to health benefits that can be experienced even if you are still consuming small quantities of meat.
Environmental Benefits of Becoming a Semi-Vegetarian
The environmental benefits of vegetarianism/semi-vegetarianism are lesser known but poignantly clear:
Farmed animals produce 18% more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s entire transportation system, which includes all trucks, boats, planes, etc. which is responsible for 13.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
If you’ve ever driven by a farm and held your nose because of the smell, you’re not imagining things. Methane from cows and sheep accounts for 37% of all methane produced by humans. In case this is not clear, cow and sheep gas not only smells bad, it’s bad for the environment.
64% of all human produced ammonia is produced by raising farmed animals and ammonia is responsible for acid rain. It appears that as individuals inadvertently may be larger contributors to acid rain than some large companies.
Raising farmed animals also requires more resources than growing crops does. Raising livestock accounts for 8% of our global water consumption, which is a lot when many regions are experiencing unprecedented droughts. A third of all suitable land for growing crops is used to grow crops to feed livestock, when that land could be used for crops to feed ourselves directly, which takes 50% less land, than it does to raise crops for livestock. Sadly, 70% of rain forest deforestation in Central and South America is due to raising cattle, which require a lot of room. Source: National Vegetarian Week.
Now that you are perhaps feeling a little depressed, the good news is that by becoming a semi-vegetarian, or even a vegetarian, you can help bring change and alleviate some of the causes that are destroying our planet.
Benefits to the Animals of Becoming a Semi-Vegetarian
By becoming a semi-vegetarian you will also be helping some animals, since you’ll be eating less of them, but of course some animals will still end up on your dinner plate. The average person will eat 880 chickens in their lifetime (Source: How Much Food Will You Eat in Your Lifetime? That’s a lot of chickens. So if you reduced your chicken consumption in half, you would be saving 440 chickens. Unfortunately, you would still be responsible for the demise of 440 chickens. If you are OK with this, then you can still help those animals have a better life before their eventual fate of ending up on your dinner plate. Many slaughter houses have inhumane conditions. I.e. 70% of pigs raised in the U.K. are raised in tight quarters and will never have the chance to go outside. Source: Vegetarian Society: Pigs Information Sheet. The same is true for many chickens of which 62% of all eggs bought in the U.K. come from caged hens (Source: Vegetarian Society: Laying Hens) By buying free range, ideally from a farmer’s market where you ask the farmer about how the animals are raised, you can ensure the animals you are eating were treated humanely. You can also buy organic to ensure that animals weren’t pumped with steroids or antibiotics which is better for both your health and the animal’s health.
Becoming a Semi-Vegetarian
Becoming a semi-vegetarian, and keeping in mind that you are not really a vegetarian – at least to true vegetarians, is surprisingly easy. There are so many tasty substitutes such as beans and lentils and vegetarian cookbooks abound so coming up with vegetarian recipes and saving 440 chickens is actually quite easy. Now go enjoy a bowl of savoury butternut squash soup (made with vegetable broth of course)!