Fresh Foods

Why Vegetarianism?

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1.  Razing the Rainforest

One of the most important reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet are the devastatingly large areas of land that are bulldozed daily to make room for industrial meat farms.  Land is also razed for the crops needed to feed the animals on those farms.   The devastation of forest lands feeds into several other issues, such as climate change and world hunger.

“From tropical rain forests in Brazil to ancient pine forests in China, entire ecosystems are being destroyed to fuel humans’ addiction to meat.  According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.”(PETA)

2.  The Global Poor

About 100 million tonnes of grains are diverted yearly for biofuels, while seven times that amount (760 million tonnes) are diverted to feed animals on meat farms.  Farmers in poorer areas of the world work tirelessly to feed animals for Western consumption, while they remain unable to access both the grains and the meats grown within this system.     The commodification of our food has abstracted producer from consumer, and we are unable to see the systematic injustices of production that bring meat into our neighbourhood shopping centres.

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3.  Climate Change

Not only does razing forest contribute to climate change by removing our carbon banks, but several other aspects of our global food system contribute to warming the planet as well.  The amount of energy and fuel burned to produce and transport meat products from around the world is astounding.  This contributes significantly to CO₂ levels in our atmosphere.  As well, livestock emit huge amounts of methane gas and ammonia gases from animal waste.

“Producing a little more than 2 pounds of beef causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than driving a car for three hours and uses up more energy than leaving your house lights on for the same period of time.” (PETA)

The UN has stated that a global shift to vegetarian/vegan diets is a necessary step to combat climate change.

4.  Water Pollution

The billions of pounds of animal waste produced on farms ends up in the water system.  As animals are often injected with various steroids and hormones to combat the diseases that large groups of livestock are prone to, these medicines and steroids also flow into our waterways.  According to the EPA, agricultural runoff is the number one source of pollution in our waterways.  This doesn’t say anything of the volumes of water needed to feed the animals and to sustain the crops that are grown to feed them as well.  The meat industry is an insatiable consumer of water in a time when fresh sources are becoming scarce.

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5.  Animal Cruelty

There are countless social and environmental reasons that our global level of meat consumption is problematic, but people tend to dismiss animal cruelty as inevitable –part of some primal ‘circle of life’.  However, the intolerable conditions within factory farms cannot be denied, no matter how much or how little you feel for the plight of animals.  If you have the stomach for it, watch any documentary that takes you into one of these buildings.  A recent and stunning film, Samsara, contained scenes exposing how the industrial meat system works.  Suffice to say, once you see it, you won’t forget it.

If we are striving for peace on earth, then we must strive for peace in the world as well.  So long as people dominate the environment, they will continue to dominate each other as well.  Every part of life, from our thoughts to our actions, must reflect the values of the world we want to build.  The violent disregard for the lives of animals in the global capitalist food system should have no part in a better, more just future. The Dalai Lama, supporter of vegetarianism, says “Animals deserve our compassion.  We must know their pain. We should nurture this compassion through education. Showing concern about animal rights is respecting their life.”

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6.  Clearing the Ocean Floor

The health of our above-water world depends enormously on the health of the oceans.  Current fishing practices are not only unsustainable, but seriously damage entire underwater ecosystems.  Grazing the ocean floor and bringing up every creature, edible or not, is affecting the ability of our oceans to act as carbon banks while it disrupts balanced environments.  The Gulf Stream that regulates our temperatures above water can be disrupted, and would have severe consequences for the world, making most of it uninhabitable for humans.  The increasing levels of toxins we dump in our water systems are also being fed right back to people in the fish they eat.

7. Heart Disease, Mad Cow, Bird Flu…

Finally, eating a lot of red and fatty meats contributes to rising levels of heart disease in humans.  To keep up with the capitalist industrial food system, we are forced to feed farm animals less and less healthy food, like corn, which is cheaper to produce in mass quantities.  This, along with the medicines and steroids given to animals, is making the meat people eat today far more unhealthy than the meat people ate even decades ago.  Vegetarianism is a healthy option for your heart, but also helps you avoid the increasing number of viruses, diseases and unhealthy hormones that enter your body through meat consumption.

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