Just because I care and I believe in a better and sustainable world I decided myself to become vegetarian. For about five months I haven’t eaten any kind of meat and I have tried to reduce the amount of egg, milk and dairy products since then. When I tell my friends about my decision, not everybody gets it. And immediately they come with: “so, Daniela, why are you vegetarian? Don’t you eat chicken? Don’t you eat fish? Don’t you drink milk? What about eggs?”

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(Photo: Daniela Fortin)

I come from Chile, a country of great meat eaters where every weekend there is at least one social happening around a grill full of meat (yes, the weather allows it!). So imagine how unconceivable being vegetarian is for them. As they don’t consider chicken as meat, whenever visiting friends or family back home, I nicely get a piece of chicken breast or leg on my plate…. nice of them, but OMG!

 

(Photo: Daniela Fortin)

(Photo: Daniela Fortin)

Most people think we need proteins from meat to survive, to grow and get strong, to build nice muscles and get a six-pack. But the reality is that people believe in many myths and they are proven wrong. I understand people’s concerns, but relax. The fact is that we do not need meat and the planet needs us to stop eating it. The American Dietetic Association recognized in 2009 that “humans have no inherent biological or nutritional need for animal products”, and therefore, “vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”.

Since I am new in this new mysterious world of vegetarianism and I am still on my way to tell everybody about it, I keep surprising friends and colleagues when asking for a veggie dish at a restaurant or leaving half of the plate uneaten. You’d be surprised if you knew me; as a proper Chilean I used to eat a lot of meat and I loved it … still do love it. However, just because I care, I decided to be aware of what to eat and what not to eat. The reason goes beyond my health care, I am still very young to think about it, or at least that is what I believe, even if I am turning 31. Ups, should I be worried? Anyway, the primary motivation for becoming vegetarian is because I care; I care about reducing energy consumption, rain forest destruction, about the air I breathe, the global warming, water pollution and scarcity, desertification, misuse of energy resources, and I care about world hunger. Raising animals for meat has all these consequences. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says that livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

 

In Latin America, particularly in Argentina and Brazil, forests and rain forests have been cut down, burned and cleared to create pasture for beef cattle. This is because while grazing occupies 26 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, feed crop production requires about a third of all arable land. Consequently, more and more land is needed for an industry that is growing fast day by day. According to FAO some 70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon is now used as pasture.

The world’s top crop for animal feed has been, for the last 20 years, soy or soya (in Portuguese or Spanish). According to http://www.soyatech.com: “About 85 percent of the world’s soybean crop is processed into meal and vegetable oil, and virtually all of that meal is used in animal feed.”

 

(Photo: FAO)

(Photo: FAO)

 

I honestly believe that the most significant thing I, as an individual, can do for changing the actual scenario is to become vegetarian. Each one of us can do this. Even if it is difficult, I am sure it is not impossible. I did, and I am Chilean! Eating a vegetarian diet allows us to «tread more lightly on the planet.»

Spire’s next campaign: “Soya til besvær”, which aim to promote sustainable alternatives to soy, it is also a viable and significant way to care and help in changing the livestock impact on the environment. The campaign will highlight the problematic aspects of Norwegian soy imports and how production contributes to environmental degradation in Brazil. The campaign work starts now! So either stop eating meat or just bli med i Spire!

 

By Daniela Fortin, Spire