Three months ago, I came home, walked into my kitchen and was surprised to see my brother eating tofu and drinking soymilk. Before then, he had always been a carnivore.
I did not understand the motives for this change, but instead of explaining verbally, he merely handed me a pamphlet resting across the table.
The pamphlet, entitled “What Meat Really Is,” taught me so much about the terrible practices of the meat industry. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animals are abused, caged and mutilated for food. For example, chickens are raised in filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds. They are then dosed with drugs and bred to grow so massive and at such a fast rate that many become crippled under their own weight and die. This is just one example of animal cruelty. Pigs, cattle and even fish are horrifically abused.
Being a vegetarian is essential to the conservation of our environment. According to the pamphlet, when you eat chickens, fish, turkeys or pigs, you are wasting resources and demolishing our environment.
Eating livestock affects our sources of water. More than half of all of the water consumed in the United States is used to raise animals for food. Additionally, water is necessary for cleaning away the dirt in slaughterhouses and factory farms. A vegan diet requires 300 gallons of water a day, while a diet solely based on meat requires more then 4,000 gallons of water a day. (It takes a tremendous amount of water and energy to grow the crops that animals eat.) Farmed animals cause 130 times as much pollution as the entire human population of the U.S.
The United Nations reported that through emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, the meat industry spurs more global warming than that of cars, trucks, SUVs, ships and planes in the world combined.
Consuming meat affects a person’s health, increasing his or her risk for disease. A German Cancer Research Center study showed that vegetarian men had a 50% lower risk of dying early than non-vegetarians. Vegetarian women have shown a 30 percent decrease in mortality. Other health benefits include reduction of heart attack risk, lower blood pressure, control of diabetes, prevention of cancer and elimination of toxins from one’s body.
Fortunately, living a vegetarian lifestyle can reduce all this. There is a common misconception that a vegetarian diet is too demanding. But in fact, there are more vegetarian/vegan dietary options than ever before. Just recently, 7-11 introduced vegan options nationwide, including Pad Thai noodles, vegetable Lo Mein, Shanghai dumplings, artichoke spinach noodles and Hunan dumplings.
“I was a vegetarian for two years and am now a vegan. It’s not hard to do; one just has to focus on what you can eat,” Alison Rollman ’14 said.
It is also quite easy to live on a vegetarian diet. Getting protein is not a difficult task; I get my sources of protein through eating tofu (organic is the best type), beans, lentils, legumes and nuts. There are also a variety of vegetarian burgers sold at any supermarket. My favorite brand of veggie burgers, Dr. Praegers, is available at Trader Joe’s.
There is a small but diligent group of vegetarian peers on campus.
“I like being a vegetarian because I have taken a stand on an issue that I really believe in. I believe in clean, natural, healthy food. I believe in treating animals in a humane way. I believe in eating ethically and for me, that means being a vegetarian” Ariella Kattler Kupertz ’12 said.
It is our ethical duty as conscious human beings to minimize the amount of suffering caused by our own very need to consume. With the help of Noa Kattler Kupetz ’14, I plan on creating a vegetarian club on campus. This club is open to anyone – if any of the presented information regarding vegetarianism and animal rights rings true with you, please feel free to contact me in order to sign up.