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Reasons to go Vegetarian
Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons.
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.
Wild salmon stocks in 20 Norwegian rivers have in recent years been wiped out by a parasite that first took hold in local aquaculture feedlots. Scottish river managers warned in 2007 that one careless angler spreading the parasite could decimate Scotland's wild salmon stocks as well. Pharmaceuticals and pesticides are typically added to all aquaculture pens to forestall disease and infection, sometimes doing neither, and consequently causing environmental havoc.
Between 1980 and 2004, meat production in the developing world tripled, amounting to well over half of the world's output. Dense concentrations of corralled industrial livestock, which create vast quantities of manure, now skirt the edges of major cities in Asia and Latin America, causing severe environmental damage.
A 2005 report by Environmental Defense estimated that 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. go to chickens, hogs, and beef cattle, "...not to treat disease, but rather to promote growth and to compensate for crowded, stressful, and often unhygienic conditions on industrial-scale farms." Also, according to the report, antibiotics deemed important to human medicine "comprise nearly half of the overall quantity of antibiotics used as feed additives," a particularly troubling fact in light of growing worldwide antibiotic resistance.
Ninety-nine percent of the world's water comprises salty seas or is locked up in glacial icecaps. The 1 percent left—no more—is suitable for human consumption. Yet the non-renewable freshwater reserves found in aquifers across the globe are being mined of trillions of gallons of water per year to support the worldwide meat culture. One of the greatest aquifers anywhere, the Ogallala, sits beneath America's High Plains states and is essentially being drained to oblivion in order to supply an infrastructure of feedlots and industrial slaughterhouses. Scientists say this natural wonder will be diminished by 80 percent by 2020.
Approximately 800 million people today live with chronic hunger, and 16,000 children die from hungerrelated causes every day. Yet the world cycles nearly 43 percent of all the grain that is harvested through animals to produce meat. No matter the species, feed-to-flesh ratios are inefficient— 7, 3.5, 2, and 3 pounds to 1 for beef, pork, chicken, and farmed fish, respectively. Biofuel production within one recent year gobbled up 110 million additional tons of grain, raising food prices and putting pressure on the world's fragile food security. Compare this to the 840 million tons within the same year that was snatched from the mouths of the poor to feed livestock. Those who care about world hunger need to eat less meat.
Every year, Americans suffer from approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths because of something they ate. That something was probably of animal origin. The main culprits are E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and campylobacter. The annual cost to the U.S. for the top five food borne pathogens, all originating in animal-derived food production, is $6.9 billion.
To produce foie gras, male ducks are force-fed a stomach-gorging cup of corn pellets three times a day with a 15-inch feeder tube. This torturous process goes on for 28 days until the ducks' livers, from which the pâté is made, miasmatically bloat to 10 times normal size. Mortalities are high due to disease, intense stress, and burst stomachs. Activist undercover video has shown rows and rows of birds panting incessantly for air in the days just leading up to slaughter. So cruel are all these practices that foie gras production is now outlawed in at least a dozen countries.
Want the omega-3s in fish but would rather skip the mercury, PCBs, and dioxins? Well, push aside that fish altogether, and rediscover flax. Two tablespoons of ground flax daily give you all of the essential fatty acids you need with several bonuses: Flax seeds contain iron, zinc, and high-quality protein, plus almost all of the vitamins. They're loaded with soluble fiber and are the best source anywhere for phytonutrient lignans. They ease symptoms of diabetes and even promote healthy brain growth in utero and in infancy.
Just as smokestack emissions result in acid rain, toxic fumes from decomposing livestock waste in open-air lagoons on factory farms become poisonous to fish when returned to waterways via rainfall. The errant nutrients (ammonia, primarily) also ravage terrestrial ecosystems. Since Earth's plant species evolved to efficiently use scarce amounts of such nutrients, today's gluts often kill them. Fallout can degrade environments as far away as 300 miles.
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