101 reasons to go vegetarian

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Reasons to go Vegetarian

Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons.
Several of the world's mightiest rivers no longer reach the sea, and aquifer levels around the world are dropping by dozens, and even hundreds, of feet. Largely responsible is the fivefold increase in worldwide (water- guzzling) meat production that's taken place over the last half-century. Producing a pound of animal protein requires about 100 times the water needed to produce a pound of vegetable protein. It takes about 1,300 gallons of water to produce a single hamburger. Seventy percent of the fresh water that is taken from the world's rivers, lakes, and underground wells goes to agriculture, and 43 percent of the world's grain goes to feed animals for meat.

A USDA inspector, part of an ABC Primetime investigation, clandestinely filmed a plant that processes a million pounds of chicken for schools each year. The investigator found carcasses laden with yellow sores and fecal matter and machines caked with harmful residues. The plant had repeatedly failed salmonella tests. Some of the cheapest, most unsanitary meat tends to be sold to schools.

University research has determined that the feeding of approximately 10 million tons of poultry litter to U.S. cattle and other livestock every year is safe. But the mere presence of wasted feed in the mix, which otherwise includes excreta, carcass parts, bedding, and feathers, could include the stray remains of cattle. This would seem to violate the 1997 USDA rule that no cow is to eat the flesh of another cow, instituted to thwart the spread of mad cow disease. Also, poultry litter needs to be properly composted to neutralize microbial toxins— in practice not always accomplished. Furthermore, livestock so fed need sufficient time to flush out veterinary medications that might have tainted the litter. Finally, feeding poultry litter to livestock provides one more vector for the spread of bird flu.

If you like the idea of being welcome at the places where your food is produced, don't count on poultry growers allowing you, the consumer, access to their massive sheds of monocultured birds any time soon. Without natural immunities that could otherwise be acquired by outdoor life, today's flocks need to be protected from the slightest infection. When operators are lax in applying rigorous measures of "biosecurity," a case of the sniffles in one bird can potentially escalate to a mass outbreak, forcing a giant cull involving millions of birds.

Hoof-and-mouth disease is rarely fatal for livestock, but it remains a death sentence just the same.When blisters form on hooves and lips, and growth slows because of fever, economics prescribe execution and incineration. In 2001, Great Britain responded to an outbreak by destroying nearly 6million mostly healthy cattle, sheep, and pigs at a cost of [U.S.]$9 billion—to save its export trade. There were actually only 2,030 known cases of the disease. The rest were exterminated to provide buffers to contain the outbreak.

The population explosion should not be thought of exclusively in terms of people—not when one considers the ecological footprint represented by the world's 3.2 billion cattle, sheep, and goats across the globe. About 20 percent of the world's pastures and rangeland— and 73 percent of rangeland in dry areas—have been degraded to some extent, mostly through overgrazing, compaction, and erosion caused by livestock.

More than half of the nation's seafood companies do not follow federal food-safety guidelines. Government inspectors visit processors only once per year to oversee essentially voluntary measures and to view company paperwork using the honor system. Three-quarters of all fish consumed in the U.S. is imported, representing 4 billion pounds, but less than two percent of it is government inspected.

In what is still the most comprehensive study of diet and lifestyle ever made, The China Study found that the consumption of relatively small amounts of animal protein is linked to chronic disease. The findings from this grand epidemiological study are especially compelling because they allowed meaningful comparisons between populations with similar genetic backgrounds yet with nonhomogeneous diets. All together, The China Study provides the ultimate vegan vindication.

Okinawa has the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world, boasting the highest percentage of people who live to be a hundred years old. The super-seniors who inhabit the island tend to retain theirmental keenness, and few need to live in nursing homes. Not surprisingly, they eat very little food of animal origin, according to a 25-year study on the island. Okinawan genes could take some of the credit, although today's old folks are projected to outlive their children who have adopted Western eating habits.

A study of 49 island countries found 55 percent of their coral reefs overfished. To sustainably harvest the million metric tons of fish taken annually from the islands, 30,000 square miles more reef—or the equivalent of nearly four Great Barrier Reefs—would be needed. Demand for reef fish is largely coming from Hong Kong traders, who are now supplying a burgeoning market in Mainland China. Reef fish take 5 to 10 years to reach breeding age and so are particularly vulnerable. Fishers capture the fish live using cyanide, destroying coral in the process; three quarters of the fish die even before getting to their market destinations.

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