February 2009

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• Financial Crisis
• Tribes of Rivals
• Budget Process
• ME Roadmap
• Rotten in Gaza
• Spare the Rod
• Letters to the Editor

• Gaza War Hits US
• Trip to Israel
• Soldier and Cinderella

In Their Own Words
• Jane Eisner
• Sen. George Mitchell
• The Inauguration

• Unwavering
• My Name is Asher Lev

Raising A Mensch
• Madoff Lessons

Living Judaism
• Herman Rosenblat
• Jewish Girl in Syria

Teen Voice
• Vegetarian

The Kosher Table
• Great Kosher Products

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I am vegetarian.
Teen Voice

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 the air.

In addition, animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, thus contributing to global warming; plants do just the opposite. The livestock sector accounts for 9% 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.

Methane levels.

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.

To view previous editions of "Teen Voice", please click here.

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