The Many Reasons to be a Vegetarian
The Ethics reason
While modern factory farming is particularly appalling, there is a serious ethical issue involved simply in the killing of, and widely accepted practice of abuse towards other living beings.
I believe that human ethical concern should encompass all beings who suffer and have interests, no matter what their species. The fact that no meat or other animal products are necessary in our diet or for our survival further strengthens this ethical claim.
The Environmental reason
Water and Soil damage
Factory farms damage the environment as well as the animals they hold captive for profit. They use large quantities of fossil fuels and fresh water, and return pollutants to the earth in many forms.
In a part of Colorado, one factory farm alone which produces 350,000 pigs a year, uses almost two million gallons of water every day; most of it used to wash manure off the concrete floors. The waste is then dispersed over a limited area of land, but the soil cannot assimilate such large quantities. The result is contaminated surface and ground water from uncontrolled runoff. Livestock production is the largest polluter of water in the US, topping all other industries that produce toxic wastes.
85% (over 5 billion tons) of annual American topsoil loss is directly associated with raising livestock. One third of original U.S. cropland has been permanently removed from production due to excessive soil erosion. 26 billion tons of topsoil is lost annually on agricultural land worldwide. One acre of trees is spared each year by every individual who switches to a purely vegetarian diet.
Millions of acres of tropical and domestic forests and wetlands have been leveled and drained to create pastures and croplands to feed the animals butchered for fast food hamburgers. This denies habitats to wildlife and recreation to humans and leads to major droughts. Irrigation of these pastures and croplands depletes precious drinking water supplies. Water running off these lands robs irreplaceable topsoil, turning millions of acres of lush cropland into desert. This turnoff, along with waste products from factory farming and slaughterhouse operations, contribute more pollution than all other human activities combined.
The rain forests also provide ingredients for many medicines used to treat and cure human illnesses, and these resources have yet to be explored for their full potential. Approximately one thousand species go extinct every year due to destruction of tropical rainforests and related habitats.
The American Lung Association, in collaboration with the University of Iowa, provide these sobering facts:
"Nearly 70% of swine confinement workers experience one or more symptoms of respiratory illness or irritation... The turnover rate of swine confinement workers is very high, and some owners have had to sell their operations because they could not work in their own units..." Chronic bronchitis is "experienced by 58% of all swine confinement workers...and is suffered by three times as many swine confinement workers as by farmers who work in [non-confinement] swine housing units..."
"...The decomposing waste which is collected in pits underneath the pig pens pose extremely toxic hazards for the pigs and the workers. As noted by the American Lung Association, "Animals have died and workers have become seriously ill in confinement buildings when hydrogen sulfide rises from agitated pits underneath. Several workers have died when entering a pit during or soon after the emptying process to repair pumping equipment. Persons attempting to rescue these workers have also died...."
While the factory farm workers can at least wear protective masks, the animals must breathe the toxic fumes 24 hours a day for their entire lives.
Agricultural research has documented that a large number of confined animals display symptoms of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
The Economics reason
It takes 8 kilograms of edible plant protein to produce 1 kilogram of edible pig protein. Protein from animals is an acutely wasteful way of feeding humans. 10 vegetarians can live on the same amount of land as one meat eater.
Raising animals for food is an extremely inefficient way to feed a growing human population. The U.S. livestock population consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than five times the entire U.S. population. One acre of pasture produces an average of 165 pounds of beef; the same acre can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes.
If Americans reduced their meat consumption by only 10 percent, it would free 12 million tons of grain annually for human consumption. That alone would be enough to adequately feed each of the 60 million people who starve to death each year.
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The Karmic Consequences reason
All of our actions, including our thoughts and choice of food, have karmic consequences. By involving oneself in the cycle of inflicting injury, pain and death, even indirectly by eating other creatures, one must in the future experience in equal measure the suffering caused. What you give is what you get.
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The Health reasons
Protein - Iron - Calcium - Vitamin D - Vitamin B12
There is no nutritional need for humans to eat any animal products, all of our dietary needs as infants, children and adults are best supplied by an animal-free diet. Our evolutionary ancestors were, and our closest primate relatives are, vegetarians. Human teeth and intestines are designed for eating and digesting plant foods, so it is no wonder that our major health problems can be traced to meat consumption.
The consumption of animal products has been conclusively linked with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Cholesterol (found only in animal products) and animal fat clog arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes. A vegetarian diet can prevent 97 percent of coronary occlusions. The rate of colon cancer is highest in regions where meat consumption is high and lowest where meat-eating is uncommon. A similar pattern is evident for breast, cervical, uterine, ovarian, prostate, and lung cancers.
The idea that animal products are wholesome and necessary has been promoted by the meat and dairy industries, instigators of the Four Food Groups (Food Pyramid). Most of the nutritional information in schools comes from groups, like McDonald's and the USDA, who promote animal products. As a result, most people grow up believing it is healthier for humans to eat animal products.
Medical studies prove that a vegetarian diet is easier to digest, provides a wider range of nutrients and imposes fewer burdens and impurities on the body. Vegetarians are less susceptible to all the major diseases that afflict contemporary humanity, and thus live longer, healthier, more productive lives. They have fewer physical complaints, less frequent visits to the doctor, fewer dental problems and smaller medical bills. Their immune system is stronger, their bodies are purer, more refined and skin more beautiful. And don't forget, 15 million pounds of antibiotics are used in animal production every year- These drugs end up in your milk and meat.
The most common cause of death in the United States is by heart attack, killing one person every 45 seconds. By reducing your consumption of meat dairy products and eggs by 50%, you reduce your risk of a heart attack by 45%. By following a pure vegetarian diet (no animal products at all) you reduce your risk by 90%.
Heart disease, the most common cause of death in the U.S., is strongly correlated with elevated levels of cholesterol, which is found only in animal products.
There is a 12% rise in blood cholesterol from consuming one egg a day. There is a 24% rise in heart attack risk from 12% rise in blood cholesterol. The average egg contains 275mg of cholesterol. Red meat and chicken both contain the same amount of cholesterol--25mg per ounce.
grain, legume, fruit, vegetable, nut, or seed.
Cancer$70 billion is spent annually in the U.S. to treat cancer and 40% of all U.S. cancers are diet related.
Natural carnivores have short digestive tracts, conductive to expelling the toxins contained in animal flesh,
while humans have long digestive tracts for absorbing the essential amino acids. Meat-eating and a lack of dietary fiber are linked to colon cancer. Only plant foods contain fiber.
According to a recent report from the National Cancer Institute, cooked chicken contains
significantly larger amounts of cancer causing-causing heterocyclic amines than does red
Women who eat eggs daily are 2.8 times more likely to get breast cancer than women
who eat eggs once a week.
Women who eat dairy products 2-4 times a week are 3.2 times more likely to get breast cancer than women who eat dairy products once a week. Women who eat meat daily are 3.8 times more likely to get breast cancer than women who eat meat less than once a week.
Men who consume meats, dairy products and eggs daily are 3.6 times more likely to die from fatal prostate cancer than men who consume these products sparingly. Women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week are 3 times more likely to die of fatal ovarian cancer than women who eats eggs less than once a week.
OsteoporosisThe osteoperosis (loss of bone calcium) found in Western societies has been linked to excessive intake of animal protein (including fish). Digestion of this protein makes the blood acidic, causing calcium to be taken from the bones to maintain natural blood pH. Increasing calcium intake by eating dairy products has not been shown to reduce osteoperosis. A study by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. of Cornell University has shown that people in the US have twice the incidence of osteoperosis than people in China, despite consuming twice the calcium. The Chinese obtain calcium from plants and eat only 6% of the animal protein of the average american. The average measurable bone loss of female meat-eaters at eage 65 is 35%, while the average measurable bone loss of female vegetarians at age 65 is 18%. The natural food for any baby mammal is the mother's breast milk. Humans are the only mammals that consume the milk of another species and who drink milk past weaning. Cow's, goat's, and pig's milk are obviously designed for infant cows, goats, and pigs, respectively, and not for humans. Lactase is one of the enzymes necessary to digest cow's milk. Absence of lactase causes lactose intolerance, which causes cramps, bloating and diarrhea when dairy products are consumed.
Vegan ChildrenMost people have been taught that children must eat animal flesh and dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The truth is that children raised as vegans, who consume no animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, can derive all the nutrients essential for optimum growth from plant-based sources. Children not only don't need animal products, they're much better off without them.
Consider this: Many children raised on the "traditional" American diet of cholesterol- and saturated fat-laden hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza are already showing symptoms of heart disease - the number one killer of adults - by the time they reach first grade. One epidemiological study found significant levels of cholesterol and fat in the arteries of most children under the age of five.
Children raised as vegans can be protected from this condition. They are less likely to suffer from childhood illnesses such as asthma, iron-deficiency anemia, and diabetes and will be less prone to ear infections and colic.
ProteinIn the past, many people believed one could never get too much protein. In the early 1900's, Americans were told to eat well over 100 grams of protein a day. And as recently as the 1950's, health-conscious people were encouraged to boost their protein intake. The reality is that the average American takes in twice the amount of protein he or she needs. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers. Despite all this, many people still worry that they are not getting enough protein.
Contrary to popular opinion, the real concern about protein is that we will eat and feed our children too much, not too little protein. Nutritional biochemist Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the ground-breaking China Study, has shown that excess animal protein actually promotes the growth of tumors - and most people on a meat-based diet consume three to 10 times more protein than their bodies need!
When people eat too much protein, they take in more nitrogen than they need. This places a strain on the kidneys which must expel the extra nitrogen through urine. People with kidney disease are encouraged to eat low-protein diets. Such a diet reduces the excess levels of nitrogen and thus can help prevent kidney disease too.
One can easily meet the body's protein requirements with plant foods. Children and adults can get all the protein their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including spreads such as tahini and peanut butter; and legumes, including tofu, lentils, and beans.
To consume a diet that contains enough, but not too much, protein, simply replace animal products with grains, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one's weight, the body gets plenty of protein.
For a long time it was thought that athletes needed much more
protein than other people. The truth is that athletes need only slightly
more protein, which is easily obtained in the larger servings athletes
require for their higher caloric intake. Vegetarian diets are great for
IronFew parents know that some babies' intestines bleed after drinking cow's milk. This increases their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood they're losing contains iron. Breast-fed infants under the age of one year get sufficient iron from mother's milk (and are less prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.
CalciumDrinking cow's milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Too much protein, such as the animal protein fed to children in dairy products, actually causes the body to lose calcium. In countries where calcium intake is low but where protein intake is also very low, osteoporosis is almost non-existent.
Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans, and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child's system absorb calcium efficiently.
Vitamin DThis is not really a "vitamin" but a hormone our bodies manufacture when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Cow's milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it's added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the added animal fat. A child who spends as little as 15 minutes a day playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin B-12This essential vitamin once occurred naturally on the surfaces of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables, but the move away from natural fertilizers has caused it to disappear from our soil. Any commercially available multivitamin will assure adequate B-12 for your child. B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer's or active dry yeast) and many fortified cereals.
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The Spiritual Consciousness reason
The food you eat is the main source of the intricately balanced chemistry of your body, and what you eat affects your conciousness, emotions and physical patterns. By eating the flesh of another living being, you are introducing to your body and mind the chemistries of the animal, which include anger, jealousy, fear, anxietry, suspicion, and a terrible fear of death, all of which are
bound into the flesh of the butchered creature.
For this reason, vegetarians live in a "higher conciousness" (being influenced only by their own thoughts, feelings, desires and fears, not those of a separate, lower being) and meat eaters live in a "lower conciousness" (being influenced by the thoughts, feelings, desires and fears of a separate, lower being).
If one wants to live in higher consciousness, in peace and happiness and love for all creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl, eggs, or the flesh of any animal, or cause damage knowingly or unknowingly, to any other living creature, to advance or sustain his own being.