Attending a well-known agricultural school in the South famous for its dairy, the following may seem controversial. However, we should take a critical look at what we consume and how it, and other products, are produced.
I believe all life has value and is important based on my religious and ethical views. Due to this, I have always had problems with the meat industry. Within the last year, I have realized the dairy, egg and any animal product industry are equally to blame for cruelty and death as well.
Not only are these industries horrible to animals, but they also play a major role in many environmental problems we are facing. Since Mississippi State University is one of the top schools when it comes to agriculture, it would only make sense that we should strive to be a leader when it comes to food sustainability.
This would allow students to have foods that are not genetically modified and are less processed. This could even eventually allow the university to spend less money on food. It would also be better for the environment by having less distance to travel. In doing this, we should be encouraging students to eat less animal products and have more plant-based foods.
Students' health should be one of the top priorities of the school. Meat and dairy are often seen as healthy things to eat, however, it is not all it is advertised to be. We all know hotdogs are bad for you; however, bacon, red meat and other processed meats also raise your risks of getting cancer.
According to Allison Aubrey from NPR, "A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer and concluded eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer ... The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos."
Obviously, Aubrey refers to the long-term effect, or else it would not be seen as safe to eat meat. Dairy has its own health risks and is super easy to avoid and replace, although, there is not much selection for these alternatives here. Many people are lactose intolerant, which is an extremely common problem to have involving dairy.
Many people have lactose intolerance because we simply are not made to drink cow milk. It is meant for baby cows, not humans.
According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, dairy is also linked to heart disease. "Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. Milk products also contain cholesterol. Diets high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, which remains America’s top killer," Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explained.
This is important because we should care about our short-term health as well as our long-term health. Another reason we should care about this research is because health is not guaranteed, and we should do everything in our power to stay as healthy as possible.
A current global focus in helping the environment is reducing and potentially eliminating single-use plastics. However, the meat industry also causes many problems for the environment. One major effect on the environment is deforestation. With the number of trees getting cut down, we are not putting anything in its place which comes with many other consequences.
According to Damian Carrington of The Guardian, "The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75 (percent) - an area equivalent to the U.S., China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife."
As a school, we tend to focus on recycling and plastics. However, we should also do what we can to deal with issues like deforestation and animal extinction. This school has done many things in an effort to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. This is great, however, at the rate we are destroying the planet, our university and others should do as much as possible to face these problems head on.
Due to all this, MSU should advertise its plant-based options instead of putting them in hard-to-find locations. Another way the school could encourage students to try plant-based options is giving more variety than curry, salads and some foods from the allergy-free section. Even though I really like curry, I tend to avoid the vegan section due to the monotony of it.
The vegan selection at The Perry Cafeteria is limited, and people with this diet are essentially restricted to eating the same thing every day in the cafeterias. We could also try encouraging students to try meatless Mondays. Reducing your meat and dairy intake will help not only help your health and the environment, but you would also save an animal’s life.
So, save an animal, eat some plants.