About 2 months ago I started eating a vegetarian diet and 2 weeks into that shift, I watched The Game Changers. It’s the new trendy documentary on eating vegetarian and how athletes perform. It was very compelling. Even my dad, who is a family physician and holistic doctor in Las Vegas, emailed the whole family to watch it. In this documentary, there was a 10 minute blip that by eating less meat, we’ll create a less toxic environment. It piqued my curiosity so I did a little researching.

The obvious fact was that the more whole foods and less processed foods we ate, the less waste and by-products we created. But did eating meat harm our environment? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), raising animals for food is the number one source of water pollution. To feed animals for consumption, corn is primarily used. Corn is prized because it can be efficiently grown on vast farms but it depletes the soil and forces the farmers to use more pesticides and fertilizers. Of which eventually affect our water supply. For example, there is currently a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of 8,543 square miles where no fish or other animals can thrive because the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that have flowed out of the Mississippi River. In 2009, a study found that four fifths of the deforestation in Amazon rainforest could be linked to the cattle ranching.

Not all experts are convinced of these facts. Frank Mitloehner, a animal scientist from the University of California, Davis is vocal about his view that meat has been disproportionately linked to climate change emissions. “What concerns me the most is that, while livestock has an impact, the report makes it sound as if it was the leading source of the impacts. By far the use of fossil fuels are the leading source of carbon emissions,” says Mitloehner.

There is so much data and research to be found with compelling arguments that I encourage to do a little picking around and see what sits right with you. David Pimentel summarizes in Scientific America: “For those who can’t give up meat fully, cutting back goes a long way toward helping the environment, as does choosing meat and dairy products from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. ‘Ultimately, we need better policies and stronger regulations to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production,’ says EWG’s Kari Hammerschlag ‘But personal shifting of diets is an important step.’”