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Reasons to go vegan (or eat less meat)

You will not be alone

According to a 2012 study, 3.2 percent of US adults (7.3 million) follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent (1 million) of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of US adults (22.8 million) say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.

More and more people are choosing to change to a greener, more compassionate lifestyle of a plant-based diet for three main reasons: health, the environment, and animal welfare.

More like herbivores

  • Carnivores and omnivores share a number of physical attributes that make them well suited for killing and tearing apart their prey.
  • wide mouth opening
  • simple jaw joint for effective slicing
  • dagger-like teeth spaced apart to avoid trapping stringy debris
  • sharp claws
  • huge stomachs that enable gorging for that one kill per week
  • their stomachs are very acidic to break down protein and kill bacteria in decaying flesh
  • Human and other herbivores have physical attributes that allow them to be well-adapted to eating plants, a process that requires crushing food with side-to-side motion rather than simply swallowing it in large chunks the way that a carnivore or omnivore swallows flesh.
  • fleshy lips
  • small mouth
  • thick and muscular tongue
  • less stable mobile jaw joint for chewing and grinding
  • no sharp claws
  • smaller stomaches that have higher pH
  • long small intestine to break carbohydrates

“Gorillas are almost exclusively herbivorous. Mountain gorillas prefer a diet of foliage—leaves, stems, pith, and shoots—and a small amount of fruit. Lowland gorillas also eat leaves and pith, but they eat more fruits, and, occasionally, tiny ants or termites. Their canines are bigger than ours.”

For better health and looks

2,500 Americans die every day of some type of heart disease—the leading cause of death in the US. The most common type is atherosclerosis where plaque accumulates in major arteries. A plant-based diet has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease.

Both vegans and vegetarians typically have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of Type 2 diabetes, lower body mass indexes, a lower risk of death from heart disease, and lower overall cancer rates.

A Cleveland study determined that obese children placed on a vegan diet “showed improvements in both weight and heart disease risk factors in only a month.”

A vegetarian diet have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol by 16 percent; a vegan diet reduces by 32 percent.

Eating more fruits and vegetables boosts immunity.

Dr. Campbell (China Study) concluded that “people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.”

Kaiser Permanente urged physicians to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients.”

People who refrain from eating animal products add three to six years to their lives.

Vegans who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables are better looking. All those wholesome nutrients improve the health of skin, hair, and nails.

According to a 2006 study published in Chemical Senses, “non-meat eaters also had a fresher body odor and tastier body fluids.”

Animal agriculture and its impact on world hunger

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties.

Wasting and severe wasting:

  • Globally, 51 million under-five year olds were wasted and 17 million were severely wasted in 2013.
  • Globally, wasting prevalence in 2013 was estimated at almost 8% and nearly a third of that was for severe wasting, totaling 3%.
  • In 2013, approximately two thirds of all wasted children lived in Asia and almost one third in Africa, with similar proportions for severely wasted children.
  • Six million children starve to death every year. (UNICEF)
  • Farm animals consume half of the world’s edible grain crop.

Animal agriculture impact on the environment

The United Nations encourages the vegan diet as the most effective way to combat climate change, world hunder, and poverty—meat and dairy products are unsustainable.

Intensive animal agriculture is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water.

“Some 40% of the world’s land surface is used for the purposes of keeping all seven billion of us fed—albeit some of us, of course, more than others. And the vast majority of that land—about 30% of the word’s total ice-free surface—is used not to raise grains, fruits and vegetables that are directly fed to human beings, but to support the chickens, pigs and cattle that we eventually eat.“ Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine

In addition, “over a 15 year period, at least 40 million animals have been shot, poisoned, snared and trapped by Wildlife Services [Department of Agriculture], which says only that the exterminations are a service to those who “experience damage from wildlife each year.” Darryl Fears, Washington Post

Vegans have the smallest carbon footprint, generating a volume of greenhouse gases 41 percent smaller than that of meat-eaters.

Unintended impact on slaughterhouse workers

“Amy Fitzgerald, a criminology professor at the University of Windsor in Canada, has found a strong correlation between the presence of a large slaughterhouse and high crime rates in U.S. communities…

“She has found that counties with slaughterhouses have higher arrest levels for sex offenses and more frequent reports of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson.”

Most people in our country are unaware that “slaughterhouse workers view large-scale violence and death on a daily basis.”

Workers develop Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS): similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PITS results from participating in violence rather than being a victim of violence.

And “the cruelty inflicted on farm animals has increased over the last several years. As Americans increase their consumption of meat so does the rise in standard kill rates. Workers are pressured to kill more quickly and therefore become sloppy. Such sloppiness results in ‘incidents in which live animals [are] cut, skinned or scalded.’”

“The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. . . . Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them—beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care.” —Ed Van Winkle, hog-sticker at Morrell slaughterhouse plant, Sioux City, Iowa

“The [slaughterhouse] employment tends to lower the employees’ ability to empathize and identify with the pain suffered by the animals whose lives (and deaths) they are controlling…This lowered ability to empathize with weaker creatures may cause the slaughterhouse workers to be more likely to commit violent crimes, particularly against women and children.”

Other studies have reported 130% increase in violent crimes within five years of slaughterhouse openings; increases in property crimes; and the incidence of child abuse increased to 50% higher than average.

Over nine billion farm animals are killed annually. “The people who kill them—the people we almost never consider—have had to declare ‘I can’t care’ to cope with the trauma of the job.”

Sources: vegetariantimes.com: Anne Clark, PETA; Mammoth Infographics; Sarah Barns, Sunday Express; Andy LaPointe, Natural News Blogs; Brie Zeltner, The Plain Dealer; “The China Study”; Kaiser Permanente Journal; Ashley Capps, Free from harm; Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine; Felicity Carus, The Guardian; Jennifer Dillard, Georgetown University Law Center

 

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