101 reasons to go vegetarian

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Reasons to go Vegetarian

Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons.
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.

Worldwide meat consumption quadrupled over the last half century. The average American consumes about 110 grams of protein per day— about twice what the government recommends. Over two-thirds of this amount comes from animal-based sources. Most would be better off consuming 30 grams of protein per day and all of it derived from plant sources.

The Humane Slaughter Act requires that mammals be rendered insensible to pain before being slaughtered. A Washington Post series some years ago, however, exposed a packing industry hard pressed to follow this law. Animals were found regularly butchered alive on speeded-up conveyor lines. A $5 million appropriation was consequently enacted to hire more humane inspectors for kill floors across the nation, but the funds ended up being diverted to food-safety inspectors already employed. In the end, the Humane law does not even apply to 99 percent of animals slaughtered, because poultry birds and fish are not covered by it.

To choose industrial meat is to support a system that long ago put family farmers out of business. Essentially, it is only the big players—those who bought into factory systems— who are feeding America. Yes, we do have lower prices at the retail level. But ultimately, what is the real cost of cheap meat? You need to factor in the $20 billion per year in government subsidies to commodity farmers, higher medical costs attributable to excessive diets, antibiotic resistance in emerging bacterial strains, a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the inordinate amount of oil needed for petrochemical fertilizers, dwindling aquifers, zoonotic diseases, and the list goes on.

Eating a plant-based diet guards against disease—first, in an active way with complex carbohydrates, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Then by default— the more plant foods you eat, the less room you have for animal foods that clog arteries with cholesterol, strain kidneys with excess protein, and burden the heart with saturated fat. Clinical studies have shown that high-fiber, meat-free diets reverse diabetic symptoms and reduce cholesterol levels by about as much as the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

In the mid-1970s, chicken processors argued that in order to keep up with skyrocketing demand they should be allowed to merely rinse off fecal matter from bird carcasses rather than cut away affected parts. The government gave in to the processors' request, and the rule stands to this day. A number of studies have since proved that rinsing carcasses, even up to 40 times, is ineffective at dislodging the filth. It's something to know since the violent motion of defeathering machinery not only works to squirt feces out from the carcasses, it can push filth deep into the crevices of the birds' skin.

Most of America's cows are not "Happy Cows," despite what the California Milk Advisory Board might say in its nationally televised commercials. Many cows in the Western state spend their lives negotiating bogs of their own feces. Elsewhere, they may be tethered at stanchions. All are inseminated annually to keep them lactating, and many regularly suffer painful udder infections. Thanks to calcium depletion and foot infections, slaughter occurs after only three or four lactation periods. The CMAB is a government agency and so is not subject to false-advertising laws.

A 25-percent decline in heart disease in Poland in the early 1990s coincided with the country's transformation to a market economy, which ended government subsidies to meat. A switch primarily to vegetable fats and the increased importation of fruit were also seen as factors in the decline, according to a report made by a team of multinational researchers. The authors of the report noted that the decline was "apparently without precedent in peacetime."

A meat diet dramatically raises your risk for heart attack, but in recent years you're less likely to die from it. Technology will probably save your life, leaving you to live with the consequences. In the case of congestive heart failure—an increasingly common outcome—your heart, now damaged, is unable to adequately circulate blood to the rest of your body, resulting in fluid build-up and organ damage. In the U.S., nearly 5 million people live with heart failure, and about 550,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. The disease is the leading cause of hospitalization among the elderly, and hospital bills attributed to it total $29 billion annually.

To bring 10 billion animals each year to the dinner tables of today's everyday Americans requires a well-oiled machine of streamlined efficiency. Sentient life is conveyed and processed using the batch method—tight confinement of the "raw ingredients," by the tens of thousands and evenmillions. But things can, and do, suddenly go horribly wrong and more often than one would imagine—think hurricane, snowstorm, flood, tornado, heatwave, mechanical breakdown, electrical failure, disease, or fire. At press time, for example, within a span of five weeks, fires burned to death 11,000 pigs in Littleton, Illinois, and 180,000 chickens in the Seattle area. News accounts were typically short and local, concentrating on the economic losses to the farmers.

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