Did you know that you have to feed a cow 24.1lbs of food for each lb of meat you get to eat from that cow? On the other hand, you only have to feed a chicken 4.1lbs of food/lb of eggs produced.
1/3 of agriculture land in the United States is used for livestock! What an incredibly wasteful use of resources. Why are we importing spinach from Mexico when we could be growing it in our own backyard? Why are cows taking up so much space and have so much value when:
1) the planet is in peril (cow manure is rarely used as fertilizer and ends up as methane in our waterways; we are importing foods from other countries that could be grown here, thus reducing carbon emissions from transportation)
2) people in North America go hungry (more crops would lead to increased supply and lowered prices for healthy foods).
I’m not suggesting that everyone becomes a strict vegan or anything – just that we are more thoughtful about our nutritional choices.
Remember grade school science?
We learned that plants turn sunshine into energy via photosynthesis. Nature’s pretty smart! So then the energy and nutrients from the plants are eaten by animals and turned into muscles, organs, blood cells, brains, and all kinds of other neat stuff. Hmmm…our body can make all this stuff using plants? That’s pretty sweet.
How do we get protein if we don’t eat animals? Well for starters, think about some of the common animals we eat: fish, chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs – what do they eat? They are naturally herbivores (vegetarians) and their bodies make muscles just fine (that steak you had last week was once a field of grass~!) While humans aren’t able to eat grass, we can make proteins out of plant foods. Beans & legumes combined with brown rice, or natural peanut butter on whole grain toast are examples of properly combined plant-based proteins.
Plant-based proteins are great but the egg is still considered “nature’s prefect protein” because the amino acid profile of an egg is ideal for the human body. That means that there is the right proportion of each amino acid for our body to use it all up (no wasted protein). Some foods fall short in some amino acids while providing a surplus of others. Vegetarians must ensure that they provide their body with the right amount of all the essential amino acids at the same time to optimize protein use.