Vegetarianism is the future of our planet

VII Международный конкурс научно-исследовательских и творческих работ учащихся
Старт в науке

Vegetarianism is the future of our planet

Грищук Е.Д. 1
1МАОУ "Гимназия №2"
Королева Л.Д. 1
1МАОУ "Гимназия №2"
Автор работы награжден дипломом победителя III степени
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People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions or concerns about animal. Some people follow a largely vegetarian diet because they can't afford to eat meat. Becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce, more vegetarian dining options, and the growing culinary influence of cultures with largely plant-based diets.

Approximately six to eight million adults in the United States eat no meat, fish, or poultry, according to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit organization that disseminates information about vegetarianism. Several million more have eliminated red meat but still eat chicken or fish. About two million have become vegans, forgoing not only animal flesh but also animal-based products such as milk, cheese and eggs.

Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally enough but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses. According to the American Dietetic Association, "appropriately planned 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." [7]

I have chosen this topic because I’m a vegetarian and I would like to know everything about my diet.

The object of my research is: Vegetarianism

The subject of my research is: The impact of vegetarianism on the environment


1.Elicit how meat production affects the environment

2.Prove that vegetarianism is completely safe for your health

Hypothesis: Vegetarianism is the future of our planet. It can improve people's lives and ecology

Analytic methods: Searching, inquiry were used to carry out the research

Aim of the research: Find out how vegetarianism affects the ecology of the planet

History of vegetarianism

The Ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras is best known today for his mathematical theorem, but for centuries he was also celebrated as the father of vegetarianism. A meatless diet was referred to as a “Pythagorean diet” for years, up until the modern vegetarian movement began in the mid-1800s.

While Pythagoras was an early proponent of a meatless diet, humans have been vegetarians since well before recorded history. Most anthropologists agree that early humans would have eaten a predominantly plant-based diet; after all, plants can’t run away. Additionally, our digestive systems resemble those of herbivores closer than carnivorous animals. Prehistoric person ate meat, of course, but plants formed the basis of his diet.

Pythagoras and his many followers practiced vegetarianism for several reasons, mainly due to religious and ethical objections. Pythagoras believed all living beings had souls. Animals were no exception, so meat and fish were banished from his table. Strangely enough, he also banished a vegetable that has a place of honor on most vegetarian menus today, the humble bean. His followers were forbidden to eat or even touch beans, because he thought beans and humans were created from the same material. Fava beans were especially bad, as they have hollow stems that could allow the souls of the dead to travel up from the soil into the growing beans.

While the edict against beans was lifted not long after Pythagoras’ death, his followers continued to eat a meatless diet. His principles influenced generations of academics and religious thinkers, and it was a group of these like-minded individuals who founded the Vegetarian Society in England in the mid-1800s. The virtues of temperance, abstinence and self-control were all tied to vegetarian ideals, while lust, drunkenness and general hooliganism all resulted from a diet too rich in meat products. Notable early vegetarians included Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi and American Bronson Alcott, a Transcendentalist teacher, reformer and the father of “Little Women” author Louisa May Alcott.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that vegetarianism moved into mainstream American life and the movement’s growth picked up speed in the 1970s when a young graduate student named Francis Moore Lappe wrote a book called Diet for a Small Planet. In it, she advocated a meatless diet not for ethical or moral reasons, but because plant-based foods have much less impact on the environment than meat does. Today, many vegetarians refuse meat because of animal rights issues, or concerns over animal treatment, a principle first espoused in Peter Singer’s 1975 work “Animal Liberation.” [6]

Varieties of vegetarians

Strictly speaking, vegetarians are people who don't eat meat, poultry, or seafood. But people with many different dietary patterns call themselves vegetarians, including the following:

Vegans (total vegetarians): Do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin.

Lacto-ovovegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.

Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do consume dairy products.

Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs.

Partial vegetarians: Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian). [5]


If we really want to reduce the human impact on the environment, the simplest and cheapest thing anyone can do is to eat less meat. Behind most of the joints of beef or chicken on our plates is a phenomenally wasteful, land- and energy-hungry system of farming that devastates forests, pollutes oceans, rivers, seas and air, depends on oil and coal, and is significantly responsible for climate change. The way we breed animals is now recognized by the UN, scientists, economists and politicians as giving rise to many interlinked human and ecological problems, but with 1 billion people already not having enough to eat and 3 billion more mouths to feed within 50 years, the urgency to rethink our relationship with animals is extreme.

Overheating the planet

We humans eat about 230m tonnes of animals a year, twice as much as we did 30 years ago. We mostly breed four species – chickens, cows, sheep and pigs – all of which need vast amounts of food and water, emit methane and other greenhouse gases and produce mountains of physical waste.

But how much stress does our meat-eating put on ecological systems? The answer is a lot, but the figures are imprecise and disputed. In 2006, the UN calculated that the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18% of the global total – more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together. [3]

Drinking too much water

Eat a steak or a chicken and you are effectively consuming the water that the animal has needed to live and grow. Vegetarian author John Robbins calculates it takes 60, 108, 168, and 229 pounds of water to produce one pound of potatoes, wheat, maize and rice respectively. But a pound of beef needs around 9,000 liters – or more than 20,000lbs of water. Equally, it takes nearly 1,000 liters of water to produce one liter of milk. A broiler chicken, by contrast, is far more efficient, producing the same amount of meat as a cow on just 1,500 liters.

Pigs are some of the thirstiest animals. An average-sized north American pig farm with 80,000 pigs needs nearly 75m gallons of fresh water a year. A large one, which might have one million or more pigs, may need as much as a city.

Farming, which uses 70% of water available to humans, is already in direct competition for water with cities. But as demand for meat increases, so there will be less available for both crops and drinking. Rich but water-stressed countries such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, the Gulf states and South Africa say it makes sense to grow food in poorer countries to conserve their water resources and are now buying or leasing millions of hectares of Ethiopia and elsewhere to provide their food. Every cow fattened in Gambella state in southern Ethiopia and exported to Abu Dhabi or Britain is taking the pressure off water supplies back home but increasing it elsewhere. [3]


Commercial fishing methods such as bottom trawling and long-lining often clear the ocean floor of all life and destroy coral reefs. They also kill thousands of dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other “bycatch” animals. Coastal fish farms release feces, antibiotics, parasites, and non-native fish into sensitive marine ecosystems. In addition, since most farmed fish are carnivorous, they are fed massive quantities of wild-caught fish. For example, it takes up to 3 pounds of fish meal to produce every pound of farmed salmon. [4]

Ruining the air

Aside from greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, cows and pigs produce many other polluting gases. Global figures are unavailable but in the US, livestock and animal feed crops are responsible for 37% of pesticide use, more than half of all the antibiotics manufactured and a third of the nitrogen and phosphorous in fresh water. Nearly two thirds of the manmade ammonia – a major contributor to acid rain – is also generated by livestock. In addition, concentrated factory farming of animals contributes to ozone pollution. [4]

Myths of Vegetarianism

Milk is necessary for strong bones

Fact: McDougall: "Where does a cow or an elephant get the calcium needed to grow its huge bones? From plants, of course. Only plants. A consistent conclusion published in the scientific literature is clear: Calcium deficiency of dietary origin is unknown in humans. Dairy products contain large amounts of animal proteins. This excess protein removes calcium from the body by way of the kidneys. Knowing the physiological effects on calcium metabolism of eating excess protein explains why societies with the highest intakes of meat and dairy products the United States, England, Israel, Finland, and Sweden also show the highest rates of osteoporosis, the disease of bone-thinning." [2]

Humans were designed to eat meat

Fact: Human anatomy suggests otherwise. We're designed to be able to eat meat occasionally, as a survival mechanism, but our digestive systems are very similar to those of the other plant-eaters and totally unlike those of carnivores. Also, the less meat someone eats, the less their risk of just about every major disease. Finally, people who don't eat meat have better physical performance, whether they're athletes or not. The argument that humans are carnivores because we possess "canine" teeth ignores the facts that other plant-eaters have these same so-called canine teeth, and that only plant-eaters have molar teeth. [2]

Vegetarians don’t get enough protein

Fact: Vegetarians and vegans get protein from plant-based products. A half-cup of beans even has about the same amount of protein as one ounce of meat.

Practical Part

I conducted a survey among the students of my school. This survey helped me figure out how teenagers understand the topic of plant-based diet.

First question:

«What do you think about people who follow a vegetarian diet? »

75% - positive attitude

18% - don’t matter

7% - vegetarian diet is dangerous for health

It is very good results. Students in my school know something about vegetarianism.

Second question:

«Do you think that eating meat can have negative health effects? »

79% - think, that eating meat can’t have negative health effects

11% - difficult to answer

10% - think, that eating meat can have negative health effects

Most students don’t know how meat affect health.

Third question:

«Do you think vegetarianism is good for environment? »

43% - yes

57% - no

Most students don’t know how vegetarianism affect environment.

Fourth question:

«Have you ever thought about switching to vegetarian diet? »

78% - no

5% - yes

17% - difficult to answer

Most students have never thought about switching to vegetarian diet, but I hope they will think about this later.


Now, I can say, that vegetarian diet is completely safe for health. Meat isn’t necessary product, and you can replace it with plant-based products. Vegetarian diet is very good for the environment. More than 70% participant think, that vegetarian diet is good, I think that’s great results, but more than 50% participant think, that vegetarian diet isn’t good for the environment, it isn’t good results. My work proves, that this diet is good for environment. Vegetarianism improves people's lives and ecology.

The concept of vegetarianism encompasses a few different types of diets. Among vegetarians, you will find semi-vegetarians, who cannot really be considered true vegetarians, since they have only cut out red meat, but still eat white meat and fish. Then, there are fruitarians, who do not eat any animal products and stick to a vegan diet, composed essentially of ripe fruit of trees and plants. By now, you certainly have heard of vegans, who do not eat any animal produce at all, nor use any type of items, like clothing, that were made using animal products. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat meat or eggs, but they kept dairy products in their diet. And, finally, lacto-ovo-vegetarians say no to all types of meat and fish, but do consume eggs and dairy products. [1]

According to numerous studies, a vegetarian diet provides adequate nutrition to adults and children, while also reducing health problems. Scientists have analyzed the effects of vegetarianism through the scope of several common diseases, from cancer to cardiovascular conditions, and all results point towards one simple conclusion: vegetarians have better health than meat-eaters.


1.Кэмпбелл К. Китайское исследование; перевод с англ.Валентины Уразаевой. /К.Кэмпбелл. Т.Кэмпбелл.- М: Манн, Иванов и Фербер, 2013- 528 с.







Appendix 1

«What do you think about people who follow a vegetarian diet? »

75% - positive attitude

18% - don’t matter

7% - vegetarian diet is dangerous for health

Second question:

«Do you think that eating meat can have negative health effects? »

79% - think, that eating meat can’t have negative health effects

11% - difficult to answer

10% - think, that eating meat can have negative health effects

Third question:

«Do you think vegetarianism is good for environment? »

43% - yes

57% - no

Fourth question:

«Have you ever thought about switching to vegetarian diet? »

78% - no

5% - yes

17% - difficult to answer

Appendix 2




























The Netherlands






United Kingdom



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