Currently, there are over 12 million vegetarians living in the United States, a number that is growing by leaps and bounds each year. While people committed to a vegetarian diet used to be relatively few and far between, these days vegetarianism is everywhere you look. College students and Hollywood celebrities alike are jumping on the vegetarian bandwagon. Why? Well, here are 5 good reasons that someone like yourself might want to consider a vegetarian diet.
1. For the animals. This one seems obvious, but sadly for a lot of people, it’s not. Animals raised for food today are not raised on picture-perfect family farms like you might think, but are instead reared in an agricultural system that includes drugs, antibiotics, cages, intensive confinement, and dirty slaughterhouses. Dairy cows and egg-laying hens don’t have it any better than animals raised for meat, either. A quick look at the websites of PETA or the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) will show you everything you need to know. It is estimated that by going vegetarian, a single person will save the lives of 95 animals annually. If you love animals, adopting a vegetarian diet is one of the best things you can do to help them.
2.For the environment. This one might not be as obvious to people as the first one was. But a diet filled with meat, eggs, and dairy is a huge burden on the planet as well as a tremendously inefficient use of our natural resources. It takes over 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, compared to 25 gallons for a pound of wheat. Over 80% of the agricultural land in America is used to grow food that we feed to farmed animals. These same farm animals produce over 130 times the amount of excrement as the entire human population in America each year, which ends up polluting our lands and waterways.
Clearly, our environment would be better off if everyone were to adopt a vegetarian diet. Forget about the hybrid car. If you’re serious about reducing your environmental foot print, going vegetarian is the place to start.
3. For your health. Many people don’t know just how much healthier vegetarians are compared to their meat-eating counterparts. In studies of vegetarian diets, it has been found that vegetarians tend to weigh less, have lower cholesterol , live longer, and have fewer serious diseases than those who eat meat. Nearly every major health organization in the world has gone on record as saying that one of the keys to good health is a diet that is rich with fruits and vegetables. Now with the recent “Mad Cow Disease” and e-coli scares, it seems like the smart thing for anyone who is really concerned about their health to do is to stop eating meat and other animal products.
4. For human rights. This is where I start to lose some people, but the fact of the matter is that a diet based on animal products is likely to be contributing to human suffering in other parts of the world. The meat industry is notorious for abusing its workers. From hiring illegal immigrants (who are afraid to complain) to denying valid workers’ compensation claims, a quick search on Google will reveal the many atrocities of the American meat industry.
Beyond American workers, however, a meat-based diet actually contributes to hunger and starvation problems in third world countries. In a world where over 26,000 children die each day from starvation, most people are content to eat meat, which means feeding 16 pounds of grain to an animal to produce a single pound of meat. If we took all the perfectly good food we were feeding to farmed animals and started feeding it to the people who need it, world hunger could be a thing of the past.
5. It’s the trendy & cool thing to do. This might not be the most important reason, but the fact of the matter is, more and more people are choosing a vegetarian diet each day. From Hollywood celebrities like Richard Gere, Alicia Silverstone, and Pamela Anderson, to countless high school and college students, it seems like you can’t go anywhere these days without hearing more and more about vegetarianism. Some of the hottest restaurants in the world right now exclusively serve vegetarian and vegan cuisine. And why not…it tastes great, is good for you, and is amazingly easy to prepare!
If you’ve been thinking about going vegetarian, there’s never been a better time. There are more vegetarian dining options than ever before, and if you need any information, the web is chock full of vegetarian-focused websites. Even if you can’t give up eating meat completely, adding a vegetarian meal to your diet every now and then could have more benefits than you might think.