People often ask me why I chose, after 50 years, to stop eating meat. It's a question I get mostly at work dinners, and it is usually asked when someone is apologetic about their ordering meat when I ask for meat-free options. Other than a select few, almost everyone in my life eats meat. So believe me when I say there is no judgement or disapproval of those who have not made the same choice I have.
But I've really had to work on the correct reply when asked, as to not sound preachy or opinionated, or worse, offend someone who has not made my choice.
I don't expect to change anyone's mind about whether they want to give up eating meat, entirely, although I admit, I do hope that by reading this, people will chose to make choices in their meat-buying and eating that will eventually change laws that improve the lives of animals, and in doing so be better for humans and our environment.
Here are the 3 main reasons I became a vegetarian:
1) Animal Welfare. My decision to give up meat was 90% moral and 10% health. I lived in ignorance of what goes on in the factory farm world during the life of the average, cow, pig or chicken before their slaughterhouse death. Even if animal welfare is not on the top of your list, it is good to care about whether or not the animals you eat are being treated humanely during their lives, because when an animal is scared and in pain, they release naturally occurring stress hormones which decrease the quality, taste and nutritional value of their meat. The pain, suffering and cruelty is beyond measure, and after seeing a couple of documentaries, I decided, unconscionable. But, it doesn't have to be this way. We can choose to get our meat, poultry or dairy from farms that raise their animals in a free range world, eating well, without drugs or hormones and not suffering in confinement and torture.
2) It's Good for our Environment. Meat-eating is the largest source of global warming. Raising cattle & pigs for food requires more agriculture than vegetarianism as most of the crops raised go to feed livestock. Waste from livestock is one of the major sources of pollution in the world; second to pesticides and uses more pesticides,used on crops for food for people. These pesticides kill insects and birds, and leak into local drinking water supplies. The loss of bees in our ecosystem is a true environmental hazard due to the overuse of pesticides.
3) Good for your health.
Heart disease, cancer, strokes, impotence, obesity, Alzheimer's, diabetes, mad cow disease, e. coli can all be reduced with a vegetarian diet. However, these illnesses can also be reduced by eating a clean-meat diet. A recent study by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum) included 1,904 vegetarians over 21 years. The shocking results: vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50%! Women vegetarians benefit from a 30% reduction in mortality.
Read the article here
"We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and
organs as our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of
pain and fear." Robert Louis Stevenson
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi
"Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please
choose vegetarianism. Do it for animals. Do it for the environment and
for your health." Alec Baldwin