The Choice We Make
By - Christine Kuang, Edited By - Ishraq Nihal, Featuring - Hardik Bhaskar
Our reality consists of an environment in a state of crisis. A solely plant-based diet is environmentally friendly as the number of natural resources pours into the making of animal products is substantial. Factory farming, the process of raising a large concentration of livestock relative to the free-range roaming space, is not a sustainable food supply practice (Shafer-Landau, 1994). Its industrial design is for maximizing production without taking into consideration the welfare of the animals. We can do without it. Take the widespread production of beef; for example, it pollutes the environment with its potent greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock production releases methane simply from the animals digesting the grass (Subak, 1999). Furthermore, if society incorporates a vegetarian diet, it reduces the amount of land necessary for food production.
What will it take for all humans to become vegetarian or vegan?
The fast-growing infrastructure of agriculture and a nutritious/morally conscious diet is on the rise. One of the first steps to take is educating the youth by providing the tools they need to make sound choices to combat the socioeconomic disparities and ethical and environmental concerns. To attract younger generations towards adopting a vegetarian/vegan diet, one must make an imprint in media such as Facebook and Instagram, or even make a meme. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “ We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
Hence, millennials are placing more emphasis on a greener world. I asked Hardik Bhaskar, a vegetarian and an accomplished senior at Hunter College who aspires to become a physician, for his input. He is the Undergraduate Student Government’s current president, a track and field student-athlete, and a researcher. Hardik believes strongly in the power of our choices, especially when it comes to our diet.
Photo of Hardik Bhaskar
Hardik grew up in a vegetarian household and had been eating a plant-based diet ever since he was an infant. This may surprise some people. After all, couldn’t such a diet be detrimental to an infant’s development and health? Hardik disagrees. He affirms that a vegetarian diet provides the perfect balance of proteins and vegetables necessary for infant development. As living proof, he has survived growing up on a vegetarian diet, in addition to being in tip-top shape as a track and field athlete. With the growing popularity of plant-based diets, it has become easier than ever to be a vegetarian. Hardik believes being conscious of what you put in your body encourages you to be attentive to nutritional value and thus find supplements to meats for yourself.
Nonetheless, Hardik acknowledges that a vegetarian diet may only be accessible to a privileged few. In India as an adolescent, he recalls befriending a young boy in his neighborhood. Throughout their interactions, he witnesses his friend oddly getting skinnier as time passes. It would seem he did not get enough to eat, regardless of dietary considerations.
Accustomed to a full plate of food, Hardik admits that vegetarianism is costly and not accessible to everyone. Statistically, there is a positive correlation between income and vegetarianism. Simply put, good organic veggies food is expensive. The high accumulating costs of veggies may be why not many abide by the vegetarian diet. A Gallup poll in 2018 reported that about 5% of the American population is vegetarian, and 3% is vegan (Reinhart, 2018). Hardik acclaims the nutritional value of organic bell pepper with hummus, his favorite dish, dramatically outweighs that of a hamburger by McDonald’s. Furthermore, it is a plus that the tasty dish does not require any animal slaughter.
Do we have the moral obligation to kill animals for food? An American legal scholar, Gary Francione, states, “The idea that we have the right to inflict suffering and death on other sentient beings for the trivial reasons of palate pleasure and fashion is, without doubt, one of the most arrogant and morally repugnant notions in the history of human thought.” Hadik adds that pain is not abstract, but a universal concept as animals is self-aware. Take, for example, lobsters, where animal cruelty serves to fulfill our satisfaction concerning gourmet meals. The recipe calls for the preparation of lobsters by placing them alive in a pot of boiling water. Struggling to survive, the live lobster clatters around, scraping at the pot (Wallace, 2005).
Moving forward, purchasing and eating meat is in support of harming animals. A casual monetary contribution is active involvement in harming animals, albeit non-directly. The choice we make on the food we place on our dish does impact both our body and conscience.
Inc, G. (2018, August 1). Snapshot: Few americans vegetarian or vegan. Gallup.Com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/238328/snapshot-few-americans-vegetarian-vegan.aspx Shafer-Landau, R. (1994). Vegetarianism, causation, and ethical theory. Public Affairs Quarterly, 8(1), 85–100. Subak, S. (1999). Global environmental costs of beef production. Ecological Economics, 30(1), 79–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(98)00100-1 Wallace, David Foster. (2005). Consider the lobster and other essays. New York :Little, Brown,