Your Health, the Environment, and Animals Used for Food
Chickens, pigs, turkeys, cows, and other animals who are raised for food value their lives just as much as you and I value ours. They are not nuggets, drumsticks, burgers, roasts, steaks, chops, bacon strips, sausage links, or hot dogs, and they certainly don’t have any spare ribs. If someone did the same things to dogs and cats that farmers and slaughterhouse workers do to these friendly animals, they could be prosecuted for animal cruelty and locked up.
Animals on factory farms suffer terribly before they show up in neat, tidy packages at the grocery store, your fave restaurant, or a fast-food joint. They live in crowded, filthy conditions and suffer through painful procedures like branding, dehorning, debeaking, and having their tails cut off and their teeth sawed offall without painkillers. They are crammed onto trucks and carted to the slaughterhouse, where they’re hung upside-down and their throats are slit, often while they are still fully conscious.
Did you know that each vegetarian saves 100 lives a year? Well … 101 when you count yourself. Eating animals and animal products contributes to health problems, including cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and obesityjust to name a few. You’ve probably heard Mom and Dad talking about trying to eat healthier by avoiding fatty foods, right? Well, let them know that meat, dairy products, and eggs have no fiber or complex carbohydrates and are full of fat and cholesterol.
Your parents might think that you can’t get the right nutrition from a vegetarian diet, but that’s just not true! Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains are the way to go! So before you announce that you’re going veg, do some research and present the facts. For starters, beans, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, peas, nuts, broccoli, mushrooms, and peanuts are healthy sources of protein. And you can get the calcium that you need from beans, kale, soy products, and other green leafy vegetables.
The best thing you can do for the environment is to go vegetarian! Think about it: About 80 percent of the farmland and nearly half the water used in the U.S. are used to raise animals for food. And the sewage produced by those animalsthousands of pounds of itoften spills into lakes and streams, contaminating them.
Did you know that it takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for someone who is totally vegetarian, but it takes more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to create the food needed to feed a meat-eater? Shocking, isn’t it?! Here’s another interesting statistic: Every vegetarian saves an acre of trees every year! More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to grow crops to feed animals who are raised for meat, and another acre of trees disappears every five seconds. Scary! The tropical rain forests are also being destroyed to create grazing land for cattle. Fifty-five square feet of rain forest may be cut down to produce just one quarter-pound burger.
The best thing that you can do for animals, your health, and the Earth is to go veg!