By Allison Brewer, www.getnatured.com
There are probably as many reasons that people choose to be vegetarian as there are recipes for vegan mac and cheese. Whatever your reason for making the switch, you will reduce your carbon footprint, lower your cholesterol, increase your life expectancy, and stop participating in the business of factory farming of animals and animal products.
Whether you have chosen to transition to a plant-based diet or simply wish to reduce your intake of animal products, your choice to do so is a personal one. Regardless of others’ opinions, only you know what works for you, your family and your values.
Here are a few reasons why others have made this choice.
Switching to a vegetarian diet will lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce your risk for type-2 diabetes and cancer. The top two causes of death for Americans are heart disease and cancer. Following a vegetarian diet will help to protect your body from both. Vegetarians are less likely to be obese than the general population. Vegans also eliminate their exposure to the antibiotics and hormones used in farm animals.
For the Animals
Farms aren’t what they used to be. The idyllic barnyard scenes in children’s books couldn’t be further from reality. Do you know how a cow on a farm became the burger that you ate for lunch or how the eggs in your refrigerator got to your grocery store? By purchasing those products, you are likely participating, as a consumer, in the business of factory farming. Factory farming processes are extremely cruel to animals (and, in some cases, farm employees).
For more information on the issue of animal cruelty in farming, watch this video (http://www.goveg.com/factoryFarming.asp). (WARNING: use discretion when viewing this website and video as they include graphic images).
For the Environment
Going vegetarian is the single most effective thing that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, moving to a vegetarian diet will reduce your impact by about 1 ton (2 tons for a vegan diet). Here are some other facts to consider:
- According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. road.
- A 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gasses than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.
- The production of one pound of meat releases the same amount of greenhouse gasses as driving an SUV 40 miles.
- Going vegan is 50% more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than driving a hybrid car.
- Factory farms contribute to pollution, soil erosion, and wasted resources such as water and fossil fuels.
The China Study - A book containing research results demonstrating the link between consumption of animal proteins and cancer and heart disease.
Food Inc.- A movie about the business of food in the US.
GoVeg- PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website for new vegetarians/vegans.
Local Harvest - Locate farmers’ markets near your home.
World Cancer Research Fund- Recommendations for preventing cancer.