Several forms of pollution - e.g. deforestation, eutrophication of water, leaching of nitrates, antibacterial resistance, release of ammonia, nitrous oxides and methane in the atmosphere - are associated to livestock production. Should we stop eating meat to prevent major environmental pollution?
Yes - We should all stop eating meat
Not consuming meat is the only way to prevent an ecological catastrophe
Livestock causes irreversible water eutrophication
Livestock production has been identified as the major source of land-based nutrient pollution. Pollution from livestock has caused massive algae blooms, that, in turn, kill fishes and aquatic flora.
Livestock production causes antibiotic resistant bacteria
Livestock are protected and healed from diseases by means of an extensive use of antibiotics. This practice may however cause the birth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Additionally, livestock may be given antibiotics regularly for growth promotion under the guise of "disease prevention," due to a loophole in the FDA's 2017 restriction on antibiotic use.
No - livestock production is not a truly significant cause of pollution
The putative environmental benefits associated to ending meat and dairy consumption are not significative when compared to other forms of pollution such as the one from the transportation or the chemical processing sectors
Eating meat is natural
Humans have always eaten meat, and should thus continue to do so.
Meat contains important nutrients such as Vitamin B6 and B12 that are more difficult to obtain when eating plant-based, especially for those who lack time and resources for getting supplements or specific groceries.
Meat-free diets require supplements
Vegetarians often have to rely on supplements to stay healthy because it is harder to get all of the required vitamins and nutrients from a meat free diet.
Cutting out meat is only the first step in a vegetarian diet. What you choose to eat instead of meat is equally important, and avoiding meat may just lead to a less nutritious diet. Don't forget, Oreo's are vegan!