Are you thinking about becoming a vegetarian? There are a lot of benefits besides better health. Vegetarianism is better for our planet, and the animals that we share it with.
In 2005, 2.5 million cattle were slaughtered to meet the high demand for beef in the U.S. The result? The large number of factoryraised cattle needed to meet the demand had a devastating effect on the environment. It causes water pollution, greenhouse gasses, and deforestation and desertification of our land.
Our rivers get contaminated from the runoff and sewage of livestock. In fact, factoryraised cattle create three times more pollution than the amount produced by industry.
The United Nations reports that meat production creates about 18% of worldwide, greenhouse gasses. That's 5% more than the amount caused by transportation.
A study by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef produce the same amount of carbon dioxide as the average European car emits every 155 miles.
Thirty percent of the earth's entire land surface is used to raise livestock. Forests are cleared to create new pastures and to grow feed. And the overgrazing and erosion of the land result in desertification.
Many people switch to a vegetarian diet because of the well–known health benefits. A plant–based diet provides you with more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. And you no longer consume significant amounts of artery-clogging, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
As a result, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart problems, high blood pressure, and other illnesses.
Five drugs are used on factoryraised animals, and all of them wind up in your body.
Antibiotics are the most common. These poor animals live in crowded, unsanitary conditions. So antibiotics are used to control the spread of diseases. It's also used to promote growth.
The Sierra Club sent out this warning: "The routine, medically unnecessary use of antibiotics to promote the enhanced growth of livestock is making disease-causing bacteria more resistant to the drugs, which diminishes their power to treat life-threatening diseases in humans."
Beef cattle are given synthetic hormones. They're used to tranquilize the cattle, to control breeding, and to promote weight gain. These hormones have been linked to an increase of reproductive cancers in the U.S.
Since 1975, post-menopausal breast cancer increased 37%; testicular cancer increased 46%; and prostate cancer increased a whopping 88%.
But, you don't have to eat meat to ingest these hormones. They pass from the cow to the milk sitting in your refrigerator. This makes a good case for organic, soy, or almond milk.
Federal law prohibits using hormones on poultry, but other drugs are allowed. In fact, commercial pig farmers and poultry producers are allowed to use arsenic to promote growth.
After visiting a factory farm, even the biggest meat lover is compelled to convert to a vegetarian diet. Simply stated, these farms are nightmares.
The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) website reports the following atrocities:
A number of major religions preach against eating meat. The Buddhist and Vedic scriptures of India talk about nonviolence as a necessity to finding self-awareness.
Another widely held belief is that all living creatures possess a soul. It is believed that spiritual perfection begins when one can see the equality of all living beings.
Ready to start? A great place to start is by reading, How to Become a Vegetarian, 9 Simple Tips for a successful transition. Also be sure to sign up for the Easy Veg Newsletter to get step-by-step help.
Resources for Vegetarian Benefits
Kerry Walters and Lisa Portmes, Ethical Vegetarianism from Pythagoras to Peter Singer, (NY: State University of New York Press, 1999)
UN News Center, "Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gasses than driving cars, UN report warns," 11/29/06 news release
MARK BITTMAN, "Rethinking the Meat-Guzzle," New York Times, 1/28/09.
Sierra Club. Reports and fact sheets: Abuse of antibiotics at factory farms threatens the effectiveness of drugs used to treat disease in humans, www.sierraclub.org/factoryfarms/fact sheets/antibiotics.asp.
Board on Agriculture, National Research Council. The Use of Drugs in Food Animals: Benefits and Risks. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences; 1999.
Raloff, Janet, "Hormones: Here's the Beef: environmental concerns reemerge over steroids given to livestock," Science News 161, no. 1, January 5, 2002, 10.
The Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health, "Assessment of Potential Risks to Human Health from Hormone Residues in Bovine Meat and Meat Products," European Commission, 4/30/99.
"None of Us Should Eat Extra Estrogen," Los Angeles Times, 3/24/97, http://www.preventcancer.com/press/editorials/march24_97.htm Cancer Prevention Coalition
Adiraja Dasa, "Vegetarianism: A Means to a Higher End," http://www.harekrishna.com/col/books/veg/hkvc1.html
"More than one reason for the threatened beef boycott," Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, Professor Emeritus Environmental & Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, Illinois U.S.A, press release 11/7/05, WORLD-WIRE, http://www.world-wire.com/news/1107050001.html
American Beef: Why is it Banned in Europe? HORMONES IN MEAT Fact Sheet: Cancer Prevention Coalition, http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/general/hormones_meat.htm