Choose life, go veggie - Every day, thousands of people decide to stop eating meat. Some because they’re worried about the health implications of eating a diet laden with animal flesh and fats; others because they are concerned about the suffering involved in farming and killing animals for food. For many, it is the environmental impact of animal farming that makes them change their diet. Often, it is simply that people don’t like the taste of meat. If you are considering going veggie… read on. We’re sure that by the end, you will be convinced you’re doing the right thing.
And don’t be swayed by claims that we ‘need’ to eat meat to stay healthy. Around the world there are millions of happy and healthy vegetarians proving that’s just not true.
Of course, we know that there are countless other people who will say ‘But I like eating meat. It tastes nice!’ We can’t really argue with that, because taste, of course, is entirely subjective. But satisfying your tastebuds is a pretty weak reason to cause so much suffering.
So… why go veggie?
For the animals - We call ourselves a nation of animal lovers, yet every year in the UK alone, around 1,000 million animals are bred and killed for food. Most of them will have been reared in factory farms and slaughtered at just a few months or weeks old.
The conditions on factory farms are far removed from the happy farmyard scenes you see portrayed on egg boxes or in TV ads. Modern factory units exist to produce meat and dairy products as quickly and cheaply as possible and the animals are given the bare minimum needed to survive. Crammed into stinking sheds where they are barely able to stretch their wings or legs, they will never roam freely. Nor will they ever breathe fresh air or see natural daylight. Death at the slaughterhouse is a terrifying, bloody experience. And it is no better at sea.
Fish are dragged out of the water in huge nets the size of football pitches. Non-target animals including dolphins, whales and turtles are often caught up and die, too. Other fish, such as tuna, are speared on hooks on the end of long lines, and slowly dragged to their death. Some sea birds are in increasing danger of starvation as their food source – fish – dwindles.
The average meat-eater consumes around 11,000 animals (including fish and shellfish) in their lifetime. If you really care about animals, the best way you can help is to stop eating them!
For your health - By adopting a meat-free diet, you’ll also be doing your health the world of good. We do not need to eat meat to stay fit and healthy. Far from it. The evidence is conclusive: an animal-free diet is actually the healthiest of all. Plant-based foods contain all the nutrients you need and are naturally low in fat and high in fibre. Plus, meat contains saturated fats which are a main cause of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Vegetarians are much less likely to suffer from these diseases. Even the American Dietetic Association now says:
‘It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.’
For the environment - The meat industry is also having a devastating effect on our environment, both here at home, and globally.
More than 70 per cent of all agricultural land in Britain is used to feed animals. Rearing animals for food is a terrible waste of resources. The same amount of land can feed up to ten times as many people if you grow crops on it rather than graze animals or grow animal feed. This is all the more shocking when you consider that world hunger continues unabated and millions of people each year die of starvation. Yet in some countries, crops are grown to feed animals while people in the same country suffer and die from hunger and disease due to lack of food.
Animal farming is also a huge waste of water. It takes 1,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of wheat, yet it takes 100,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef.
Intensive animal farming causes soil erosion and land degradation; methane gas from farmed animals contributes to global warming, and waste from intensive factory farms is one of the main causes of water pollution.
In Central America, the rainforest is being razed to the ground, primarily to make way for cattle ranching and growing crops to feed farmed animals. And in the UK, since 1945, it has been estimated that approximately 300,000 miles of hedgerow have been cut down by farmers to increase the amount of space available for farming. Hedgerows not only provide habitats for many wild birds and mammals, they also add to the character and beauty of our countryside. But this is being slowly eradicated as industrialised farming spreads.
Trawlers, the size of football pitches, rake the seabed, destroying entire ecosystems and killing off whole species. Even world governments admit that our oceans are on the brink of environmental collapse, with commercial fishing fleets stripping them bare.
Increasingly, fish farming is touted as the sustainable alternative, but one in four wild-caught fish is used to make fishmeal to feed fish on farms. Pollution caused by fish farming produces a barren landscape on the surrounding seabed, as nothing can survive.
There’s no doubt about it: going veggie is the right thing to do. For your health, the animals, and our planet!
Blood, guts and other bits - Vegetarians can fairly easily avoid eating meat and fish, but there are many hidden nasties that they will also want to avoid, often made up of slaughterhouse by-products such as gelatine (ground up hooves and bones) and some fats and acids.
Dump dairy - Have you thought about going that one step further and turning vegan? Recognising the cruelty in the dairy, egg and honey industries, vegans do not eat any animal products, at all. It’s easy once you put your mind to it and the satisfaction gained from boycotting such abusive trades far outweighs any ‘sacrifices’ you feel you have to make. In fact, you don’t really have to make any sacrifices at all, because there are dairy-free alternatives to everything these days, and most are easily found in the big supermarkets. You won’t have to miss out on cakes, biscuits, sweets, ice cream, yoghurt, cream or chocolate – there’s an animal-free version of them all. So go on, take the plunge!