A Vegetarian's Fight
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) approximately 2.5% of United States adults are vegetarians and 2% of children, ages 6-17, are also vegetarians (Hart 64). As times are changing and as society progresses more and more people have been converting to becoming fully vegetarian. More and more vegetarian, vegan and gluten free restaurants have been popping up all over the world and country, which in turn has allowed for more people to make the transition into vegetarianism. The convenience of this constant access to vegetarian foods has made more people conscious of why people become vegetarian and begin to consider it for themselves. So why do people go vegetarian? What are the benefits? How is it better than a meat eating diet? Since eating meat can come with a price, many people have been converting to vegetarianism for reasons pertaining to health, the environment and animal cruelty.
Eating meat has been a part of culture since the beginning of time, however, as technology and science has increased, more research has been conducted on the health risks and benefits of eating meat. Research has proven that eating meat can have negative effects on personal health. It has been supported that vegetarians live longer, due to the reduced risk in cancer, diabetes and other diseases. A study from Loma Linda University was conducted and the results concluded that Vegetarians live about seven years longer than meat eaters, Additionally, a British study tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years, from the data collected it was found that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases (Dworkin). Although meat has been such a large part of surviving in the past, in today's times there are so many alternatives to eating meat that it is not worth risking having a higher chance of developing cancer or any other detrimental health issues that could ruin someone's life. As important as meat is to some people, preventing cancer should be more important. Not only does meat induce cancer, but according to "22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now" by Norine Dworkin, it has an effect on the human heart as well. Dworkin states, "...the average American male eating a meat-based diet has a 50 percent chance of dying from heart disease. His risk drops to 15 percent if he cuts out meat... Incidentally, cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters" (Dworkin). Meat has the risk of inducing both cancer and heart disease, this is a major reason why many people cut out meat from their diet. Those who have experienced high cholesterol and heart issues, including a heart attack or a stoke, are advised to stay away from red meat by their doctors and physicians because of the negative affects it has on the heart. Specifically, meat has an impact on women, it creates a higher risk for breast cancer. From Dworkins article he mentions that, "The National Cancer Institute says that women who eat meat every day are nearly four times more likely to get breast cancer... women who consume at least one serving of vegetables a day reduce their risk of breast cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent, according to the Harvard Nurses Health Study." A vegetarian diet creates a more efficient and healthier immune system which protects against tumor cells and cancer. This is why a non-meat eating diet is better for one's health. In an analysis of the NHSII, after 7 years and with 455 incident invasive breast cancer cases, the intake of red meat during adolescence was highly linked to an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer (Farvid). As mentioned before, eating red meat causes a higher risk of cancer, however, especially eating meat during adolescence increases a female's chance for cancer by a large amount. Additionally, a study conducted by cohort members from the Adventist Mortality Study and the Adventist Health Study, who did not previously have diabetes were followed for 17 years. The results concluded that people who ate meat weekly were 29% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-meat eaters. The study also discovered that people who ate a long-term diet of meat weekly had a 74% increase chance in developing type 2 diabetes, compared to a long-term vegetarian diet (Hart). If eating meat has not sounded harmful to one's health yet, the fact that it creates the possibility of developing diabetes should push people to drop their meat eating diets. Due to the fact that meat has such a high fat content it increases the body's chance of developing diabetes along with other health risks. Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which the American Heart Association states the risk of ischemic heart disease. Eating a vegetarian diet also is associated with a lower change of ischemic heart disease, lower total cholesterol levels and lower rates of obesity among (Hart). A vegetarian diet gives the body the healthy nutrients it needs to protect itself from diseases. Without the consumption of meat, the body is much better off than it would be with eating meat. Not only does meat generally have a bad effect on the body, but meat can contain harmful bacteria that can impact and infect humans. As mentioned by Dworkin:
... the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 25 percent of all chicken sold in the United States carries salmonella bacteria and, the CDC estimates, 70 percent to 90 percent of chickens contain the bacteria campy-lobacter (some strains of which are antibiotic-resistant), approximately 5 percent of cows carry the lethal strain of E. coli O157:H7 (which causes virulent diseases and death), and 30 percent of pigs slaughtered each year for food are infected with toxoplasmosis (caused by parasites). All of which leads Michael Klaper, M.D., author of Pregnancy., Children and a Vegan Diet (Gentle World Inc., 1988), to comment, `Including animal products in your diet is like playing Russian roulette with your life.
The fact that eating meat is compared to playing Russian roulette, it should be a red flag in itself. Meat is a health risk in many ways and people should take into consideration these risks when deciding whether or not to consume meat.
Becoming vegetarian also helps people stay fit, lose and keep off weight. Vegetarians, on average, tend to weigh less than meat eaters. Additionally, when they keep the weight off up to seven years longer. This is due to the fact diets that are higher in vegetable proteins have less fat and calories (Dworkin). Since a vegetarian diet is so low in fat, it is easier and quicker to lose weight and thus easier to keep it off as well. Refraining from eating meat also "...helps purge the body of toxins that overload our systems and cause illness" (Dworkin). Consuming a vegetarian diet has better health benefits and nurtures the body with the nutrients it needs. Becoming a vegetarian helps people lose weight and according to Jane Hart, "Participants who followed the low-fat vegetarian diet for 1 year had modest weight loss (an average of 7.3 pounds), weight loss was associated with a reduction of total cholesterol..." Thus proving the idea that a vegetarian diet keeps weight off. Eating meat also causes bone loss. Dworkin states that, "The average bone loss for a vegetarian woman at age 65 is 18 percent; for non-vegetarian women, it's double that. Researchers attribute this to the consumption of excess protein--the average meat-eating American woman eats 144 percent over the recommended daily allowance; the average man eats 175 percent more" (Dworkin). Meat eating has too many negative effects that outweigh the positives, people need to open their eyes and consider a vegetarian diet.
Eating meat has some psychological effects on people as well. According to Neville Gregory, eating meat has been said to increase animality in humans, when they eat meat they are behaving like animals, thus leading meat eaters to be aggressive. This idea relates back to centuries of people consuming meat and need to kill animals to feel powerful. Matthew Ruby mentions that, "meat is a symbol of patriarchy, due to its long-standing associations with manhood, power, and virility, citing records from Western European, African, and Asian cultures." This proves the idea that meat gives people the confidence to feel powerful and that they are important. People think that since they are able to kill animals, they are the almighty. However, this is untrue, killing animals that are unable to defend themselves to the extent that humans can shows weakness. Research has also proven, "that high-fat diets were more associated with males, whereas low-fat diets were more associated with females, and Oakes and Slotterback (2004) found that women following a low-fat diet were rated as more feminine and less masculine than their high-fat counterparts..." (Ruby). Men often feel like they need to eat meat to be masculine. This is a big reason why people, men, refuse to give up meat and shun those who do. Not eating meat also has positive effects on the human brain, an actual vegetarian argued that, "'nothing affects your mind and quality of life as much as nutrition'... 'you can't expect your body to treat you right if you fill it full of crap all the time'" (Fox). Giving up meat has been proven to benefit human health, but in turn this benefits the human mind as well. It improves happiness, energy and overall well-being.
Scientists have also concluded that eating a vegetarian diet is beneficial for the environment. Becoming a vegetarian helps reduce emissions, greenhouse gasses and toxins.
According to Dworkin:
"Each year, the nation's factory farms, collectively produce 2 billion tons of manure, a substance that's rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the country's top 10 pollutants. And that's not even counting the methane gas released by cows, pigs and poultry (which contributes to the greenhouse effect); the ammonia gases from urine; poison gases that emanate from manure lagoons; toxic chemicals from pesticides; and exhaust from farm equipment used to raise feed for animals.
It is not typically considered that by eating meat one could potentially be harming and destroying the environment. For those who support and believe in climate change, they should consider looking into giving up meat because of the horrible effects it has on nature. Becoming vegetarian helps preserve the purity of water. 2,500 gallons are used to produce one pound of beef, consequently it only takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. This leads to extensive water pollution. The Senate Agriculture Committee found in a 1997 study that 60 percent of American waterways were polluted, majorly due to animal agriculture (Dworkin). Water preservation is a huge deal, especially in states like California and Arizona where there are constantly droughts, it is important to be as water conscious as possible, which includes giving up meat and reducing the production of meat and the emissions that go along with it. Giving up meat also reduces greenhouse gasses, it is said that, "on average, changing from a non-vegetarian to a vegetarian diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22%" (Mangels). As seen, giving up meat has too many benefits to pass up, the fact that stopping meat production could benefit the world in greater ways is a reason to consider becoming vegetarian.
Many people have also been switching to a no meat diet to help reduce animal cruelty. Most vegetarians are vegetarian because they are against the killing of animals. 22 million animals are slaughtered each day for the production of meat (Dworkin). That is a huge number, imagine if 22 million humans were killed every day, the impact that would have on life and our world would be astounding. People need to begin to see animals as equals and not as less than dirt. Additionally, "Pig abattoirs in the USA slaughter up to 1100 pigs per hour, lamb meat works in New Zealand kill up to 24,000 animals a day and broiler processing lines in various parts of the world put through up to 220 birds a minute" (Gregory). Again these are enormous numbers that must be reduced to help save wildlife and give them the treatment that humans get.
Moreover, vegetarians do not like how animals are treat prior to even being killed.
The following quote from Animal welfare and meat science describes the procedures and treatment animals face:
Mutilations are procedures that involve removing or damaging part of an animal's body as a routine husbandry procedure. Many of them are done without anesthetic. Working from the front of the animal and moving back- wards, they include: nose ringing; beak trimming; teeth clipping; antler removal; disbudding; dehorning; dubbing; desnooding; ear notching; wing and feather clipping; branding; pizzle dropping; mulesing; tailing; castration; toe clipping (Gregory).
Treatment like this is unacceptable and should never be allowed. Although it would be near impossible to get everyone in the world to stop eating meat, animals should at least be treated well before they are slaughtered. Why do they need to suffer for human enjoyment? It is disgusting and a disgrace that humans are able to treat a living being in the way that they do.
Becoming vegetarian has too many benefits to pass up. The consumption of meat is harmful to the human body, the environment and the animals being killed. Strictly eating a no meat diet is healthier for the boy and makes humans happier. It prevents cancer, disease and diabetes. Giving up meat also benefits the environment and the world as a whole. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions and overall increases the wellbeing of the environment. A vegetarian diet also helps save animals from suffering and being lined up for slaughter. Giving up a way of life is hard and it is not expected of people to automatically give up eating meat, however if people were to look at the facts and consider becoming vegetarian, they would be pleasantly surprised.