Divya S., journalist
Animal lovers and passionate pet owners who uncomfortably wince when hearing of a story that ends with wildlife dying abound. There is certainly not a shortage of individuals who zealously advocate for animal rights. And yet, why does only five percent of the American adult population identify as vegetarian (ProCon.org)? Why do the remaining ninety-five percent of people not regard animals as sentient, conscious organisms worthy of living a complete, natural life? Merely because of gustatory preferences. After all, the production of meat is violent, unhealthy, and inefficient. Relinquishing the consumption of meat and adopting the practice of vegetarianism would save valuable lives, reduce wastage, and foster immunity.
Can anything really be nurtured to the extent that it entails the slaughter of animals and the deliberate cessation of a lineage? Do appetite and the intake of a few nutrients that could instead be found less violently bear more weight than the life of conscious beings? In the United States alone, approximately 170.5 million animals were butchered for meat in the year of 2017. Scientific studies suggest that animals, like humans, are sentient organisms capable of undergoing pain and anxiety. Even though the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act necessitates livestock to be made insensate prior to being butchered, reason tells us that it is slaughter, nonetheless. Even worse, this requirement does not apply to birds. These winged animals are thus having to go through an excruciating death simply for the sake of human nourishment. Besides, with the use of confined animal feeding operations escalating, livestock raised for slaughter are forced to live in small, teeming areas; they are forced to grow unnaturally without being grazed or experiencing natural sunlight; and they are forced to endure suffering even when being raised (ProCon.org). Hence, discontinuing the callous, unethical practice of including animals in one’s diet would improve lifestyle and increase lifespan for farm animals.
Some argue that vegetarianism ignores the value of plant life. They assert that vegetarians endorse saving and respecting animal life while hypocritically consuming plants, which are living beings, as well. However, such a comparison is as erroneous as juxtaposing water and oil, comparing a renewable entity to something of the opposite kind. It resembles a superficial assumption that trimming the leaves of a tree bears the same consequence as uprooting it. When an animal is slain, it no longer has the ability to reproduce; its entire prospective posterity has no potential to live. On the other hand, when a plant is harvested, or even uprooted, its seeds still have the capacity to sprout, and its flowers still have the capacity to be pollinated (Siva). A vegetarian diet does not put an unnatural end to the course of a plant’s life.
Furthermore, stopping the cultivation of livestock promotes efficiency and conservation. Raising animals on a farm requires plenty of land, water, grains, and other crops. Specifically, producing one kilogram of beef entails using at least twenty-five kilograms of grain and approximately 15,000 liters of water. This grain could be utilized to directly feed humans, rather than to feed them through animals. In fact, if all agriculturists adopted this practice, roughly 3.5 billion additional people could be fed (Pickles). Wildlife could, then, be left to instinctively find their own natural means of nourishment. By minimizing wastage, vegetarianism streamlines the food production process, conserves water, and even combats insufficient food supply.
In contrast to a vegetarian diet, eating meat is accompanied by a plethora of health downfalls. In particular, a scientific examination of data from five potential studies discovered that vegetarians have a twenty-four percent less likelihood of death through cardiovascular diseases than meat eaters (Key et al.). Consuming meat also puts people at risk of infections that may have been caught by animals from their prey, as well as the infections that the animals themselves may carry and transfer. Moreover, the World Health Organization has categorized both red meat and processed meat as likely carcinogenic (ProCon.org).
An understandable concern that often arises when considering switching to a vegetarian diet is the fact that certain crucial nutrients and vitamins are found primarily in meat products. These include protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 oils. However, these nutrients can be found in specific plant-based products, as well. For example, dairy products contain ample protein, and, for vegans, protein can be found in beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Soybeans, flaxseed, and nuts are all rich in vitamins like B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. And there is no shortage of vegetarian vitamin supplements in the market (“Becoming a vegetarian”). Ultimately, the plentiful benefits that are associated with vegetarianism weigh substantially heavier than the miniscule hassle of taking a vitamin supplement.
The same life, the same sentience, the same consciousness that runs through our veins runs through that of animals. No life form deserves to be deprived of its natural future. A vegetarian diet respectfully heeds this reality, consuming solely plants, which, despite being alive, are not robbed of the capability to reproduce even when harvested. Whether your passion resides in benevolence, nonviolence, conservation, ample food production, or healthfulness, a vegetarian diet addresses your concern. So, be honest to yourself and your passion. Embrace the dynamic practice of vegetarianism. And when you next make a trip to your local grocery store, turn away from the meat and poultry aisles, resist the temptation, and, instead, beam as you walk towards the produce section. Save animals, save the environment, and save your life!
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Siva, Anand. “But aren’t we Killing Plants?” Vegan First,
http://www.veganfirst.com/article/but-arent-we-killing-plants-. Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.
Pickles, Matt. “The ethical arguments against eating meat.” Oxford News Blog, University of
Oxford, 28 Apr. 2017,
http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/arts-blog/ethical-arguments-against-eating-meat. Accessed 8 Mar.
Key, T J et al. “Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a
collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies.” The American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, vol. 70, no. 3, 1999, ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/70.3.516s.
Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.
“Becoming a vegetarian.” Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, 15 Apr. 2022,
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian. Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.