Why you should become a vegetarian
More teenagers than ever before are becoming vegetarian.
-- Gabrielle J. Loeb
The most common reason for becoming a vegetarian is ethics. Whether people become
conscious of animal treatment through videos or articles, friends or
advertisements, this consciousness is what most leads many people including
myself to make this dramatic lifestyle change. I felt that I was lucky to live
in a world where I can afford to live without causing animals to die to feed me.
I felt that the right animals have to live far outweighs my right to enjoy
eating them. With the abundance in vitamins, recipes, and meat substitutes,
modern food technology has made a vegetarian lifestyle easier than ever.
While concern for animals motivates many, others embrace vegetariansim for health
reasons. Vegetariansim has been found to promote overall better health and
decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and many
other diseases. Some argue that vegetarians may simply be more health-conscious,
and that these health benefits may be correlation instead of causation. However,
vegetarian diets contain less cholesterol, saturated fat, and contaminants - all
of which are present in animal flesh, dairy products, and eggs. While
vegetarians may be healthier partially due to increased attention to the foods
they eat, the very make-up of a vegetarian diet contributes to the disparity in
overall health between omnivores and vegetarians.
Although most do not become vegetarian for environmental reasons, vegetarianism
also benefits the environment. The cost of meat far exceeds that of vegetables
in terms of the earth's limited resources. Animals must eat, and valuble finite
resources are used to transport food to every animal up until the day the animal
is slaughtered. As gas and oil are used up to transport food (which could have
gone to hungry humans), the vehicles used to transport this food also pollutes
In addition, animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, thus contributing
to global warming; plants do just the opposite. The livestock sector accounts
of the carbon dioxide emissions deriving from human-related activity. That is
more carbon dioxide than our cars produce! Even more alarming is the effect on
the environment of other gases emitted by cattle. Their flatus and ructus
contain methane which is 23 times as warming as carbon dioxide, and their manure
produces nitrous oxide which has 296 times to Global Warming Potential of carbon
dioxide as well as ammonia which contributes to acid rain. The cattle we consume
accounts for 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, 37% of human-related methane
and 64% of human-related ammonia. At first glance, it may seem that a
carnivorous diet would benefit the environment by decreasing the population of
animals and decreasing the consumption of plants. However, the truth is just the
opposite. Increased consumption of animals leads to an increased quantity of
animals because these animals are bred in order to be consumed, and supply rises
with the demand level. A vegetarian diet promotes a healthy environment in
addition to a healthy body.
All new vegetarians must decide where to set their own limits since vegetarianism
is not an all-or-nothing decision. On the more conservative side, pescatarians
refrain from eating meat yet still eat fish. Lacto-vegerarians eat dairy but not
eggs or meat, while ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy or meat. Finally,
vegans do not eat meat or animal products, which range from eggs and dairy to
gelatin and honey. Even more extremist raw vegans only eat unprocessed foods
that have not been heated over 115 degrees fahrenheit. Perhaps you might decide
to continue to eat meat on Shabbat or other special occasions. You would still
be helping the environment by significantly reducing your meat consumption.
Every person must choose what is right for him, and can build up to his goal by
eliminating certain foods from his diet one at a time.
If you would like to become a vegetarian, consult your doctor to make sure you go
about it the right way. Proteins, iron, calcium, and vitamins D and B12 can be
obtained from a vegetarian diet, but you must put effort into doing so.
Fortunately, you are not alone and you can find many resources on the internet
and in your community to help you on your journey.
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