Response to local magazine's article criticizing meat production
This article is in response to Go Vegetarian by Brittney Hansen; published as an article in January on 605magazine.com. The below was published on 605magazine.com on March 1st.
I am all about eating healthy and being active. In fact, I have been a person who has made these New Year's resolutions and failed. On 605magazine.com in January, Brittney Hansen talked about making a vegetarian diet your New Year's resolution. We live in America where we have the right to make our own decisions from what to eat to what we are going to wear, where we are going to live and what we are going to drive.
I will not criticize anyone who chooses to lead a vegetarian lifestyle, after all you have that right to chose the way you eat, though it is not a path I would have chosen for myself. You surely must have a great deal of discipline in order to accomplish such a task. I, however, like my steak way too much to give it up. I only hope that person is choosing to go vegetarian for the right reasons.
Brittney mentioned in her article a few times about reducing your carbon footprint by not eating meat. However, she does not mention that a 2007 EPA report states that animal ag and meat production only produce 2.8 percent of the U.S. GHG emissions.
Animal agricultures contribution to the GHG emissions has remained nearly constant since 1990. I would consider this impressive since the U.S. has increased meat production almost 50 percent since then. Technology has allowed for the way meat and poultry are produced today to be more efficient and have a smaller environmental impact.
While I agree that America does have an obesity problem, I do not agree it has anything to do with eating meat. It is simply a problem in society. Today's kids are entertained by video games and computers rather than going outside and playing and being active. People eat out more. I like McDonalds as much as the next person, but eating french fries four times a week will not help you stay healthy. It is all about balance and self control - and most importantly - personal responsibility.
Vegetables are great and should be included in a balanced diet, but a vegetarian diet can be incredibly difficult to maintain, because most individual plant proteins do not have the full package of amino acids you need to stimulate muscle growth and maintain good health. Meat and poultry contain all nine of the essential amino acids needed by humans.
The food pyramid was established to guide Americans into making balanced diets for themselves. There is a reason why all those food groups are on the pyramid. A person will get the calcium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin D from the dairy group; natural sugars, fiber and vitamins from the fruit group; many different vitamins and minerals, from vegetables; carbohydrates and energy from grain products; and protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12from eating meat. Each of these groups has a recommended amount of portions.
I hope anyone considering a vegetarian diet gets the facts first and from a reliable source. The PETA Web site GoVeg.org is not a reliable source. Their main agenda is to end animal agriculture and create a vegan society. Consult your physician.
If you have questions about farming and the environment, talk to a farmer or contact any state farm organization, or your state's department of agriculture and get the facts. There are over 30,000 farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, and they are all dedicated to producing a safe and nutritious product for you as well as their own families.
Farmers are the number one stewards of the land; they live on the land where they produce food. Of course they are going to protect the land and the environment, so the farm can continue on with future generations.