Its sudden popularity in the peculator leaves many avid meat-eaters questioning the validity of Its benefits and struggling to defend their way of life which has been around since cavemen. While meat consumption in America is rising, vegetarianism is flourishing a surprising popularity of its own. A poll recently conducted by Time Magazine estimates that ten million Americans consider themselves to be vegetarians, and an additional twenty million say that they have "flirted" with vegetarianism sometime In the past (Corrals).
A separate survey found that schools and universities are Increasingly offering meatless meals to their students in an attempt to keep up with the increasing demand among young vegetarians. In fact, in a recent survey of twelve to nineteen year olds, twenty percent of all the respondents and 28 percent of the female respondents described vegetarianism as "in" (Irvine). While many critics dismiss this appreciation for the idea of a plant-based diet as a short-lived social trend, that is hardly the case.
Eating meat is a practice that causes numerous health risks and takes a significant toll on the environment, all at the expense of the suffering of Innocent creatures. Society as a whole would be better served In making a transition to a healthier, less violent vegetarian lifestyle. Such a change would leave the world a better place, benefiting our earth and our health as well as increasing our awareness of the world around us. One of the most important reasons for our society to accept vegetarianism is the damage that meat production causes to the environment.
While most Americans don't realize It, eating and producing meat inspires a wasteful misuse of the earth's valuable resources, leaving an UN- occupy the earth, three times the number of human beings (Motivational). In the U. S. Alone livestock outnumber people twenty-five to one. The amount of room required to raise all these animals is massive (Corrals). In South America, about seventy thousand acres of rainforest's are destroyed every day to make land for cattle to graze (Hurley 40), and the use of the land Is so Inefficient that It Is estimated that a single vegetarian will save an acre of trees every year.
The large number of animals bred for food go to the bathroom at a rate of 87,000 pounds per second, or about 20 tons of manure per year for every U. S. Household, all of which is eventually routed to rivers ND streams. The problem is so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency has stated that animal feces "pollutes American waterways more than all other industrial sources combined" (Motivational). Modern farming methods also consume water and fossil fuels at an alarming rate. It requires only 2,000 liters of water to produce a in beef (Corrals).
The amount of waste is disturbing. In his book The Food Revolution, John Robbins states "you'd save more water by not eating one pound of California beef than you would by not showering for an entire year" (Metallic). The production f meat also requires huge amounts of fossil fuel, consuming about eight times what it would take to produce a comparable amount of plant protein and about 30 times the fuel required to produce an equal amount of grain (Hurley). Ironically, the vegetable industry also wastes massive amounts of food.
The amount of grain consumed by America's livestock, about five times the grain consumed by humans in the U. S. , could feed 800 million people (Corrals). Jean Mayer, a nutritionist at Harvard, estimates that a reduction in meat consumption by the American people by Just ten recent would produce enough grain to feed 60 million people (Metallic), and former Environmental Minister of India Manage Gandhi is quoted as saying, "Were all of [the grain fed to livestock] consumed directly by humans, it would nourish five times as many people as it does after being converted into meat, milk and eggs" (Hurley 40).
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that meat production is such an inefficient use of land, while a ten-acre farm could support 60 people growing soybeans or 24 people growing wheat, the same ten acres could support only two people raising cattle (Metallic). The case against eating meat is also strengthened by the overabundance of scientific evidence behind the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The premise that vegetarian diets are nutritionally lacking is a common misconception; however, the scientific evidence supports a conclusion to the contrary.
The USDA and nutrition experts alike have praised vegetarianism for its health benefits (Hurley 39); in fact, research has shown that for many people the health benefits of a vegetarian diet may exceed that of those who eat meat. The most obvious reason for this is the potential that meat carries for contamination. Sixty percent of supermarket chickens are infected with salmonella, and in 1997 alone 25 million pounds of hamburger were contaminated with the E. Coli virus (Metallic). Mostly, however, vegetarian diets are endorsed for much more positive reasons.
Studies have shown that the meat-free lifestyle is beneficial for reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, and several forms of cancer (Corrals). Especially significant in today's society due to the growing problem, is the diet's potential for lowering the risk for obesity. According to the U. S. Government, 23% of Americans were obese as of the year 2000 ("Overweight Prevalence"). Plant-based diets have also been shown to aid in diabetics' kidney and nerve functions.
In addition, they may be a factor in the longer life ps evident in industrialized nations and, according to the International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition at Loam Linda University, can "slow, and perhaps even reverse, age-related declines in brain function and in cognitive and motor performance" (Corrals). Alternatively, a large study has found that diets high in animal protein and lacking in Lana foods actually increased the risk for heart disease and cancer ("Meat-Free"). Dry. Caldwell Uselessly Jar. F the Cleveland Clinic asserts that our typical American diet, characterized by its emphasis on animal products, is the cause of 75% of the diseases in our country (Hurley 39). There have also been several findings in this area of particular interest to women. Studies have shown that soy foods, the most and reduce the hot flashes she experiences during menopause ("Meat-Free"). In addition, a study recently published in Contemporary BOB/GUN maintains that a low- at vegetarian diet can aid in the relief of symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as "pain intensity, behavioral problems and water retention" (Correct).
Cardiovascular disease, which kills more women than any other disease, can also be affected by a vegetarian diet, as the diet "leads to striking reductions" in cholesterol (Shadow's). The common myth that vegetarian diets are nutritionally inadequate is largely untrue. Even the American Dietetic Association endorses vegetarianism: "A well-planned vegetarian eating style can be healthful, nutritionally sound, and beneficial for the prevention of certain diseases. One of the prevailing misconceptions is that the diet does not allow for all the necessary protein.
The truth, however, is exactly the opposite; several vegetables - and soy products in particular - provide all of the protein that the body needs ("Meat-Free"). In contrast, the average omnivore actually consumes an amount of protein that greatly exceeds what is healthy (Hurley 40). Another concern is the lack of calcium in the diet, but this also proves unfounded. In fact, research has shown that while most American teens get far from enough calcium, vegetarian teens who include eggs and milk in their diet actually consume a more than adequate amount of the nutrient (Corrals).
Perhaps the most important argument for vegetarianism is the practice of producing and eating meat. The process of giving life for the sole purpose of taking it away is extremely questionable from an ethical point of view. Author Michael Pollen wrote, "More than any other institution, the American industrial animal farm offers a nightmarish glimpse of what capitalism can look like in the absence of moral or regulatory constraint. " This is particularly true in the case of Cafes, Confined Animal Feeding Operations, sometimes also called factory farms.
Conditions on these farms are so repulsive that Pollen writes, "To visit a modern CAFE... Is to enter a world that, for all its technological sophistication, is still designed according to Cartesian principles: animals are machines incapable of feeling pain. Since no thinking person can possibly believe this any more, industrial animal agriculture depends on a suspension of disbelief on the part of the people who operate it and a willingness to avert your eyes on the part of everyone else. Male chickens born on a CAFE will be thrown into trash bags and left to die because they are of no value to a farmer Motivational). Those females unlucky enough to survive are packed six at a time into a crate no wider than a piece of paper. The stress soon overwhelms them, and most rub against the cages until they molt and bleed (Pollen); they would cannibalize the other animals but for the fact that their beaks are literally seared off at birth (Hurley).
When a laying hen is about to die, she will be "force-molted" which means she is deprived of food and water for days at a time to force her to lay one last time before she dies. The mortality rate from stress alone at these farms is about ten percent, a umber so fixed that farmers will actually budget it into their production costs. Another example is that of the hogs raised for bacon and pork. Weaned only ten days after birth, baby pigs develop an oral fixation of sucking on the tails of the other pigs.
The pigs in possession of the suckled tails are so depressed that they refuse to fight back, and the constant sucking and nibbling can easily lend the tail to infection. To remove the tail but to make the sucking so painful that the accosted pig will have no choice but to fight back. Pigs who don't fight back and become infected or take ill are "clubbed to death on the spot" (Pollen). Some critics question the validity of reports of animal cruelty, citing government regulations and the Humane Slaughter Act, which was intended to guarantee the humane treatment of animals.
Unfortunately government regulations are sparse and rarely enforced, and the Humane Slaughter Act applies only to the actual slaughtering process itself and offers an animal no protection from mistreatment up until the moment of death (Hurley 37). Additionally, the Act and even regular USDA inspections have had seemingly little effect on actual farm practices: animals are regularly skinned alive, and often "regain consciousness ruing slaughtering" (Motivational). There are strictly moral arguments against eating meat as well.
In his critical essay "Why Friends Shouldn't Let Friends be Eaten: An Argument for Vegetarianism," author Jeff Jordan examines the issue of morality from a sociologically scientific standpoint: The morality of meat consumption also comes into question given the growing evidence that animals are capable of emotions very similar to our own. It is virtually inarguable that animals hold the capacity to experience fear, and most higher mammals and even some birds play in their youth and into adulthood. It might be surprising for some to learn that even grief has been observed among wild animals, especially at the death of a family member.
Scientists have often seen elephants "trying to revive dead or dying family members" and even "standing beside the remains for many days, periodically reaching out and touching the body with their trunks. " Similarly, female sea lions have been seen wailing as their pups are eaten by predators. This evidence leaves little doubt in some scientists' minds that animals have at least a basic understanding of the concept of death (Tangled). If this is the case, then Animal Liberation author Peter Singer makes a very valid point: "The question is not, Can they reason? Or, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer? " ( Pollen). Our very motivation behind meat consumption is also cause for moral concern. In a recent study appearing in The Journal of Social Psychology, researchers contemplated the fact that the "prominence of meat in the food system seems greater than its nutritional value; therefore, meat probably has a socially constructed value. " It has been postulated in the past that meat may have a higher social connection with masculinity and power while plant foods are stereotypically associated with undermined weaker traits.
The findings of the published study confirmed this theory: researchers found that "a more pronounced omnivore identity" was "associated with stronger social dominance," and that omnivores tended to value social power where vegetarians "emphasized peace, equality, and social Justice. " The strong correlation suggests a desire to eat meat not Just for sustenance but also as a means of environmental control (Allen et al). Most major religions examine the concept of vegetarianism, and virtually all at least partially endorse it as a way of life.
Buddha instructed his followers to abstain from eating meat, and in the Hindu Epic poem "The Inhabitant" followers who desire "good memory, long life with perfect health, and physical, moral and spiritual strength" are encouraged to consume only plant foods (Null 12). Even the Bible encourages a plant based diet: "Then God said, 'l give fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food" (Holy Bible: Gene. 1:29). In spite of the surplus of evidence that vegetarianism would be more beneficial to humanity, critics continue to voice their skepticism and, sometimes, downright disdain for the idea of forsaking meat. The website www. Inches. Net, for instance, poses the question, "If animals weren't meant to be eaten, why are they made out of meat? " It is a question that Richard Corrals rightly counters, "One might ask the same of humans. " The fact remains that many of the opinions against vegetarianism are easily challenged. For instance, most opponents will maintain that meat is necessary for a healthy diet, and that it is only harmful when eaten in excess. The fallibility in this argument is that the average American eats two times the recommended amount of protein; it is almost always, at least in our country, eaten in excess (Corrals).
The idea that farmers have an interest in keeping their animals healthy is also a falsehood. The plight of veal calves is a perfect example: these calves are treated so poorly that they must be medicated to keep them alive. Because of the way they are raised, they are usually too weak to walk and have to be dragged into the slaughterhouse (Hurley 38). Opponents also point to the food chain when attempting to contest vegetarianism's way of life claiming that man is naturally on top of the food chain and that animals would be Just as susceptible to predators in the wild as they are on a farm, if not more so.
Pollen argues against this point :"Do you really want to base your morality on the natural order? Murder and rape are natural, too. Besides, humans don't need to kill other creatures in order to survive; animals do. " There are also those who argue that man, who secured his position at the top of his food chain with his powerful intellectual capabilities, has an inherent right to consume the flesh of other animals. While man is indeed intellectually superior to his fellow beings, his intelligence should not be Justification for harming those less fortunate than himself.
Just because one man is less wealthy than another goes that give the wealthy man the right to think he is better than the poor man? I have experienced first hand not only a vegetarian lifestyle but a vegan lifestyle. As a vegan I restrained from eating any animal products including all types of meat, dairy products and even honey. If I had a dollar for every time someone tells me that I don't get enough protein in my diet I would have enough money to buy the entire meat industry that is telling me my way of life is wrong. As a vegan I obtained all of the necessary nutrients my body needed in a more healthy way than most meat eaters.
I get protein from beans and other legumes. I also drank raw, vegan protein shakes which gave me more protein than a normal serving of dairy protein shakes. Contrary to mainstream belief, I never felt run-down or sick during my time as a vegan. In fact, I quickly noticed a boost in my energy and metabolism when I made the switch from omnivore to herbivore. I was digesting food quicker and I started sleeping better. Along with the physical benefits, I also noticed that I was happier. I had a more sane mentality and my confidence went up. My friends and family were amazed at how well I was dealing with giving up meat.
I didn't have a hard time at all. Most people think that if they make the switch to vegetarian that they will have terrible cravings for meat. While somewhat true, my meat cravings went away quickly and after almost a year of being vegetarian the thought of meat now makes my lifestyle. The benefits are innumerable and obvious. Anyone trying to lose weight will be amazed how quickly the fat sheds and is much more easily replaced by lean muscle. My personal experiences are defense enough for me to prove that anyone can benefit from a vegetarian lifestyle. I am still a vegetarian and I do not intend on owing back to meat.