Global meat consumption has increased from under 50 million tons annually to over 200 million tons in the last 50 years. The amount of animal manure produced in the U.S. is 130 times greater than the amount of human waste. This is causing more environmental and health problems than ever seen before. Here are 15 good reasons to stop eating meat (or at least cut down):
1. Lower risk of cancer. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has reported that vegetarians are less likely to get cancer by 25 to 50 percent.
2. Lower risk of heart disease. Researchers Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn have a program that includes a vegetarian diet and is currently one of the few programs that has been proven to reverse heart disease. A vegetarian diet reduces cholesterol.
3. Lower risk of osteoporosis. Studies have shown that too much protein in our diet causes loss of bone calcium. Meat eaters generally get far more protein than they need or can use.
4. Lower risk of kidney and gallstones. The calcium leached from the bones by the body's efforts to neutralize the acids produce by too much protein intake can end up forming kidney stones and gall stones.
5. Factory farmed animals carry disease. According to the FDA poultry is the number one source of food-borne illness. Despite the heavy use of pesticides and antibiotics, up to 60% percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria. Approximately 30% of all pork products are contaminated with toxoplasmosis. We are increasingly at risk from highly contagious diseases like Mad Cow Disease and Foot and Mouth disease in sheep and cattle.
6. Factory-farmed animals contain toxic chemicals. Meat contains accumulations of pesticides and other chemicals up to 14 times more concentrated than those in plant foods. Half of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are used in farm animals and 90% of those are not used to treat infections but are instead used as growth promoters.
7. Inefficient use of agriculture. 70% of U.S. grain production is used to feed farm animals. The grains and soybeans fed to animals to produce the amount of meat consumed by the average American in one year could feed seven people for the same period.
8. Inefficient use of water. It takes 2640 gallons of water to produce one pound of edible beef. The water used to raise animals for food is more than half the water used in the United States.
9. Inefficient use of energy.
Calories of fossil fuel needed to produce 1 calorie of protein in beef: 28.
Calories of fossil fuel needed to produce 1 calorie of protein in soybeans: 2.
10. Environmental Pollution. Raising animals for food is the biggest polluter of our water and topsoil. Factory farm animal waste pollutes the ground and groundwater horribly.
11. Destruction of natural habitat. It takes more land to raise animals for food than it does to produce the equivalent nutritional value by raising edible plants. Rain forests are being destroyed to make room for huge cattle ranches. Coyotes and other animals are poisoned and shot by western cattle ranchers who consider federal land to be their land for grazing.
Animal Rights Reasons:
12. Animals on factory farms are over-crowded. They spend their brief lives in crowded and ammonia-filled conditions, many of them so cramped that they can't even turn around or spread a wing.
13. Animals on factory farms are tortured. Within days of birth, for example, chickens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade. Animals are hung upside down and their throats are sliced open, often while they're fully conscious.
14. Animals on factory farms are treated like machines. They are pumped up with drugs, fed their own waste and forced to grow or produce as fast as possible. They are subjected to 24-hour artificial lighting while being crammed into tiny cages one on top of the other to make it easier to harvest.
15. We don't need to eat animals! Most of us in the U.S. don't eat animals because we must in order to survive. We eat them because we want to. We are subjecting animals to torture, damaging the environment unnecessarily and subjecting ourselves to greater risk of disease just to satisfy a desire, not a need.
You can get a totally balanced diet without eating meat. All vegetables contain protein and too much protein consumption is unhealthy. Grains, legumes and soybeans contain plenty of protein. Vegetarian foods do not have to be boring. Spice it up! For example, veggies and rice with some Teriyaki sauce is delicious and as filling as any meat dish you can think of while being far more healthy for you and easier on animals and the environment. Why not give a vegetarian diet a try and give our environment a break. Your body will thank you and so will the Earth!