In today’s society, only a small percentage of the world’s population leads a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. This is largely due to most people not realizing what they are actually doing while simply eating a juicy hamburger or chicken strips. They may not know it, but they are supporting the number one cause of global warming and a major social issue, animal cruelty. This oblivion only harms society in the end as they are missing out on all the benefits a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle has. When used correctly, vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are healthy for not only humans, but they are also beneficial to planet Earth and its inhabitants.
Nowadays, it is not surprising to find from the tiniest of tots to the eldest person scarfing down a Whataburger or a steak with no questions asked, yet we still wonder why obesity levels are at an all-time high in countries like the United States. According to the International Archives of Integrated Medicine, Vol. 2, Issue 3, numerous studies have demonstrated lower Body mass index, also known as BMI, values in people that adopted a vegetarian diet. The mean body mass of males and females was respectively 7.6 kg and 3.3 kg lower compared to those who consumed meat in their diets according to the Sabate and Wien study. A study by Spencer, and others showed that meat-eating subjects, of varying ages, had higher a higher BMI in both men and women. Leading a vegetarian or vegan diet also has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system because of the large quantities of vegetable and fruits being consumed. These plant-based foods provide the human body with multiple antioxidants, unlike people who have a mixed diet who have lower antioxidant levels according to a study done by Somannavar and Kodliwadmath. These antioxidants in turn lead to the increase of cellular insulin, which reduces the risk of diabetes. This in turn can result in a higher life-expectancy rate for vegetarian and vegans compared to meat eaters because of the lower risk they have of getting chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and even colon cancer (208-9).
With so many studies showing just how beneficial vegetarian and vegan diets are, I now know why so many doctors place patients on these diets when diagnosed with such diseases. I personally know this to be true as my father went through an extensive and strict diet and was able to lower his cholesterol and blood pressure by solely doing this. With such results, I am shocked that more people have not become vegetarian because after all, who would not want to reduce the risks of getting chronic diseases?
Global warming is only increasing and there have not been many effective ways in lowering it, but there have been many of which only worsen the problem. According to David Nibert, American sociologist, author and professor of Sociology at Wittenburg University, this is in large part due to animal agriculture because as the demand for large-scale cattle ranches rises, global warming rises. Nibert mentions that all throughout Latin America, tropical forests were converted into ranches and pastures for raising cows solely for the purpose of food was the leading cause of deforestation, and that Central America has also been deforested over the past two decades in order to make room for cattle pastures, with the most common method used to clear these forests being to burn the land. This along with the loss of trees and plants that absorb carbon dioxide have been major contributors to global warming. Nibert goes on to mention that the release of methane gas into the Earth’s atmosphere is all connected to the growing number of cows on Earth, which creates a greenhouse effect on the planet. This effect not only causes global warming, but it also causes climate change, as this greenhouse effect traps the sun’s warmth in the lower atmosphere. This is harmful to the world’s population as it exposes it to more radiation from the sun (202-3).
With this in mind, I believe that a vegan or vegetarian diet is worth saving the planet. I mean it is just astonishing how much safer our environment would be if we got rid of animal factories. Global warming and climate change would be significantly reduced, thus exposing us to less UV rays from the sun. That sounds pretty good to me in exchange for not eating meat. I just hope that one day we could help stop these major global issues, so we could all live to see a brighter tomorrow in the world with the simple solution of not eating meat, so animal factories like the ones mentioned can stop harming the environment.
Animal agriculture also gives way to animal cruelty. According to Erik Marcus, American chef, public speaker and author, there is a lot of animal cruelty that happens in the animal agriculture business, which is driven by non-vegetarians who increase the demand for meat. Since free range and organic dairy and egg farms are so expensive to uphold, it’s doubtful that a business could make as much profit compared to a non-organic or non-free-range farm because most consumers would buy the eggs that are cheaper. Marcus shares the shocking truth that the only reason free- range eggs are affordable is because most free-range egg farmers buy their female chicks from conventional hatcheries, which sell only females, killing the males. This leads to more than 250 million layer chicks being killed and discarded at hatcheries. Even free- range farms have their flaws, with virtually all free-range farms sending their hens to slaughter at an early age because they have higher shelter costs. Marcus continues on to say that while this this is really bad, the economics of dairy farming are even grimmer, with most dairy cows ending up slaughtered by their sixth birthday, whereas if dairies didn’t send older cows to slaughter, most would live 20 years. Not only should this violate moral beliefs, but it should violate animal cruelty laws, but since there are so many loopholes, animal farms get away with such abuse. For example, Marcus mentions that most states exempt factory farms from inhumane-practice laws through a gap in the legal system known as Common Farming Exemptions, which are also known as CFE laws. These laws state that if a farm uses words such as “common,” “customary” and “accepted,” the farm is allowed any method of raising farm animals to continue. The CFE laws leave it to factory farms to decide what is and is not cruel, rather than the state deciding. “If the industry adopts a practice,” attorney David Wolfson writes, “it automatically becomes legal, and farmers cannot be prosecuted for cruelty, no matter how horrific the practice (405-6).
I believe this should not be considered fair as it is obvious that farms are only protecting themselves with these laws solely to make more profit. They do not care about the animals and their wellbeing, and in turn, only care about how much money they are getting from the slaughtering of these innocent animals, which is just plain wrong. They are going to biased when deciding what is cruel and what is not cruel since they are going to argue in their favor because they are the owners. This should really show just how much even just the slightest demand for animal products can support the slaughtering and abuse of animals and should make people think twice about eating meat.
Although there are many health benefits that come along with having a vegan or vegetarian diet, it may only be healthy when essential vitamins and nutrients are carefully monitored, which can prove to be a great struggle and make it hard to be healthy. According to Natasha Mann, reporter for the London newspaper, The Independent, a diet without meat is unhealthy when not used properly and impractical. Mann mentions, Nigel Denby, a dietician and author, says It can be hard enough bringing up a child to eat healthily, but with a vegan diet you are really making a difficult job for yourself. It is absolutely not something you should try without support from a dietician. Denby shows just how much care has to be put into sustaining a vegan diet as he believes every mealtime has to be an opportunity to eat high-nutrient-based foods or else you are running the risk of not getting the nutrients to be healthy. This could also lead to problems with food selection as options are limited for vegans and vegetarians. They have to work hard to find alternatives to meat, which has some valuable nutrients in it in order to sustain a healthy diet (87-89).
I agree with Denby on this because a person who eats French fries and chips all day can be considered a vegetarian, but it does not mean they are healthy. The way I see it, since they are only sticking to one food, they are missing out on important nutrients they would get if they had a mixed diet, but I believe that these disadvantages are only a small price to pay for all the benefits that come with the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.
Even though it is harder to have a vegan and vegetarian diet, I still believe that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages that come along with it. Leading a vegan or vegetarian lifestyles has not only proven to be beneficial to health by reducing the risk of getting chronic diseases. It has also been proven to help reduce the number one cause of global warming today and helps keep innocent animals alive for a normal life-span they would not get without people having vegetarian and vegan diets and stop supporting the animal agriculture business.
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