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Reasons to go Vegetarian
Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons.
Two major studies have emerged in recent years that show the vegan lifestyle to be conducive to lower body weight. A Swedish study of 55,000 women and a British study of 65,000 men and women both found vegans to have lower BMIs (body mass index) and to suffer less often from obesity. Vegan food tends often to be lower in calories by volume. And since plant-based fare is likely to contain dietary fiber, it satiates quicker.
Fish and shellfish farming, or aquaculture, is no less disruptive to the environment than taking fish from the wild. Shoreline pens replace mangroves, the habitats where wild fish would otherwise regenerate. Some farmed species will not breed in captivity, so fish farmers must steal juveniles, who never get a chance to reproduce, from the wild. There are numerous cases where farmed fish have escaped into the wild, corrupting the genetic purity of native species and spreading disease. Large-scale biomass fishing for fishmeal threatens vast ecosystems. Feed-to-flesh ratios soar in some farmed species to 25 to 1. Nitrogenous waste poisons the seabed floor below cages that hold fish in unnatural densities.
No discernible difference exists between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to public policy on issues of animal-based foods—certainly not in the area of trade. The Obama and Bush administrations differ only on tactics in their mutual dedication to forcing trading partners to open markets to U.S. meat. U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk told the U.S. Meat Export Federation in mid-2009 that he was using every legal tool at his disposal to keep pork markets open during the swine flu outbreak and to reverse or mitigate trade bans because ofmad cow disease and hormones in beef.
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.
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.
In nature, pigs avoid filth and will trek and root over 9 miles during a 24-hour period. Yet factory internment brings a breeding sow cold, strawless floors, noxious filth, deafening noise, and immobilizing space barely larger than her own body. She will be pinned in place to expose her teats to her piglets. This highly intelligent creature will be driven insane as she endures repeated pregnancies via artificial insemination. When her productive capacity eventually wanes, her misery will end with a blade to the throat.
Results from two major studies involving tens of thousands of subjects— one in the UK (University of Leads, 2007), the other in the U.S. (Nurses' Health Study, 2006)—suggest that the more red meat a woman eats the more she is at risk for breast cancer, regardless of her age. Suspected culprits include saturated fat, growth hormones fed to cattle, heme iron (only in red meat), and heterocyclic amines (carcinogens produced during the cooking process).
The senseless waste of the world's growing meat-centered diet is illustrated by a hypothetical statement put forth by the Population Reference Bureau: "If everyone adopted a vegetarian diet and no food were wasted, current [food] production would theoretically feed 10 billion people [47.5 percent more people than alive today], more than the projected population for the year 2050."
Grass-fed beef is more eco-friendly than corn-fed, but supplies of it could never sustainably meet current consumer demand. Several guides are available to help seafood consumers "eat with a conscience." But the species that are recommended would quickly run out if everyone ate them. Legally, "freerange" and "cage-free" designations are dubious to downright meaningless. At least one humane certification program was officially debunked. "Organic" has gone strangely industrial and is rightly tagged "ethically challenged." Ultimately, to "eat green" and to "be kind," one needs to go vegan.
The 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham challenged the world about animals with his famous quandary: "The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?" Curiously, science is every day discovering that in fact animals do all three: reason, communicate, and suffer. The differences between animals and humans are being blurred with every revelation. Man's closest relatives share over 98 percent of our DNA, and all animals, including man, are related by a common ancestor. Today's question must now be can we humans use our known capacity for logic, communication, and empathy to take animals off our plates?
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