Why be a vegetarian? What do vegetarians eat? What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan? Find the answers to these and many more questions plus links to other vegetarian pages and some great recipes. Need more reasons? Check this out!
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Why be a vegetarian?
Antibiotics: Modern science has seen to it that animals are given a healthy dose of antibiotics before they reach us to minimize losses due to illness. By eating this meat, we ingest these antibiotics and by being dosed when we don't need them, they have less effect when we take them because we are ill.
Bacteria and Parasites: Meat is a magnet for some of the most dangerous bacteria and parasites. Does E-coli ring a bell? How about Mad Cow disease? Trichnosis? If you are a vegetarian, you NEVER need to worry about getting these diseases.
Putrefaction: Fruits ferment into alcohol like wine. Vegetables likewise ferment or decay creating gases. Meat on the other hand putrifies which means it creates poisons that are toxic to humans. Fruit and most vegetables are easy to digest and don't stay in your digestive system as long as meat does. This gives it more time to putrify. It also gives those nasty bacteria and parasites (above) more time to multiply. Digestive problems such as constipation are often due to a heavy meat diet. Doctors recommend fruit and vegetables (roughage) as a cure for constipation (when will they just recommend becoming a vegetarian?).
Antioxidants the cancer fighters: Do you ever hear about beef or pork being a source of cancer fighting agents? No, it's always some fruit or vegetable containing antioxidants or some other factor that is seen as being a cancer fighting agent.
Chemical toxins: Animals are higher on the food
chain and thus concentrate toxins contained in the food they eat.
Thus one ounce of meat will usually contain far more chemicals than the
equivalent amount of grain or legumes. Plus some animals are fed
animal parts that already have concentrated the toxins of their diet.
The rainforest: The Central American and Amazon rainforests are being destroyed to provide farmland and cattle grazing. The farmers can only raise a few crops before the thin soil is depleted, causing them to burn more virgin rainforest. The land is then only suitable for cattle to graze the thin grasses. This is the real reason the farmers are allowed to burn the forest. They are the pawns of the cattle industy in Brazil. They do the dirty work, and the ranchers get more land for their herds. This endless cycle spells doom for the "lungs of the Earth" and perhaps for all of us.
In many countries the taste for meat has been introduced by companies like McDonald's or Burger King. People whose diets consisted of fruits and vegetables now see meat eating as a sign of affluence and status. Densely populated countries whose land is under intense cultivation and where pressure to urbanize has reduced that cultivation are also pressured to raise beef. This inefficient use of their land will one day doom them to starvation.
For more info on how being a vegetarian can help the environment
check out Tipping the
Scales for the Environment.
Meat is more expensive than vegetables. It takes more protein to feed animals than they yield. They require more water. Meat is more perishible, takes longer to harvest, requires refrigeration, is transported over vast distances, uses more resources, so of course it costs more.
For rich countries and well off populations eating meat
is normal. But in developing countries it is seen as a sign of affluence.
Owning animals is status.
Food Factories: That's where meat comes from. No one likes to think about where that hamburger or hot dog or chicken nugget comes from, much less what's in it! As a species we have lost touch with the source of our food. In our hunting/gathering days we were very much in touch with nature, animals and their spirits. If we had to hunt or raise and slaughter our food ourselves we could appreciate what it really is - a living animal that we must kill to satisfy our hunger. Nowadays a big mac means you won't have to cook tonight.
To provide this convenience, multinational corporations have setup food factories around the world that take the worry and fuss about having that next meal off your mind. What you don't see can't hurt you - or can it?
Certain animals are raised in appalling conditions. To produce veal - a very young cow, the animal spends it's whole life caged up in a pen no bigger than itself. This prevents it from moving and developing strong muscles thus keeping the flesh tender. It's short life is spent standing in its own urine and feces, never to graze fields of green grass, never to see sunsets, never to live the life a cow is meant to live. Because of the conditions under which it lives it must be given massive doses of antibiotics to stave off sickness, which are then passed on to those who love to eat these poor animals.
Chickens: Little chicks are hatched and sent on conveyor belts where they are examined for sex and deformities. Like the station at Auschwitz they are then either routed to the growing area or ground up to feed their siblings. The lucky chick survivors then have their beaks burned off to prevent them from pecking the hundreds of other chickens they'll be cooped up with. Most chickens in America never see the light of day. They are kept in huge rooms where the density of chickens per sq. ft. is maximized. The lighting is controlled to maximize their feeding and growth. Since they are so densely packed, they are highly prone to infection and must be given massive doses of antibiotics to suppress illness.
Pigs: One need only visit a pig farm to grasp the
horrifying conditions under which they are raised. Once the inhabitants
of forests, they are now penned up and fed just about anything. Is
it any wonder nobody wants a pig farm in their neighborhood?
But why not reverse our centuries old habit? New cuisines have combined food ideas from all over the world, and with such a varied assorment of ingredients available nowadays, let's take advantage of the many vegetarian options. It's not necessary to become a strict vegetarian overnight. It's easier to eat less meat, more grains and vegetables more often. First stop eating red meat, especially fast foods. Then cut back on poultry. Finally eat less fish and soon you'll be a vegetarian. I can guarantee you'll lose weight (absolutely a great benefit!), you'll feel better, and have more energy. You won't get that heavy bloated feeling after eating a heavy meat meal. And of course you won't get all those illnesses meat eaters get. You might notice more gas, but that is the only negative side effect.
Did you know that the most dangerous job is working in a slaughter house?
For a good Q&A about vegetarianism check out VEGETARIANISM: ANSWERS TO THE MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For More links go to our Vegetarian Links page