I guess there would be a lot of reasons to go veg – but here are the reasons I stay that way.
- My health
- My world (the environment)
- The animals
These reasons have pretty equal weight. Let me explain each just a little more.
Meat has been linked to cancer (especially colon and breast), heart disease, diabetes (type II), and much more besides. Dairy products also cause problems – and though they contain calcium, actually prevent calcium from entering our bodies. Iron too. That is why as a vegetarian my friend had low iron, but as a vegan had very safe iron levels.
Many of the environmental issues we face are caused in partly or mostly by meat. Climate change is a global crisis that directly relates to the livestock farming – in fact in Australia 30 percent of our greenhouse gas emission comes from meat. This is mostly because a lot of land must be cleared to make way for grazing animals and crops; and also because the animals themselves emit a very large amount of methane. These two aspects of meat, plus other aspects related to transport, refrigeration, fertilizer for crops, make up a fifth of global emissions.
However the vegetarian diet has the capacity to reduce far more than a fifth of the global warming problem. The secret lies in the issue of land clearing. Each year huge amounts of fertile land is cleared, and infertile land is kept that way, stressed by livestock. R roughly 70% of agricultural land and on the planet is for meat.
So, If the meat diet were to be replaced by the vegetarian diet, huge amounts of land would be immediately available for revegetation and afforestation. (we would only need to keep about 50% of our current cropland – nothing). In fact whole rural communities could mobilize to this end. The new biomass would contain the carbon that is now in the atmosphere causing climate change (trees are 50% carbon). We could restore climatic balance without the need for any real lifestyle changes at all – just replace that piece of meat with healthy, nutritious vegetarian food, the likes of which you will find on this site.
Everyone loves animals, that’s for sure. Especially in Australia. So it’s a shame that we are totally disconnected from the animals who we eat. Recently I discovered that cows can actually cry, from emotional pain. Though at a glance seem dull and dumb, I realised that in many ways they are very much like people. I know of farmers who have quit just because they can’t bear the crying when cows and calves are separated. It can i go on for weeks. Animals lead rich inner lives that humans don’t witness.
Here’s the touchy part – but a very important part nonetheless. First of all, if you’re reading this and you currently do eat meat, please understand that I am not questioning your ethics, morals or faith. You can do that in your own way and time. You’re already a vegetarian on the inside, and I want to help you realise that.
The industry that supplies those neat red packages, milk and eggs, thinks that the public will not accept the way their meat is produced. And I think if the public knew, they would agree. I won’t dwell on it, because that’s not the point of this website, but I don’t think you could imagine the suffering of the 60 billion land animals that human beings kill in one year. Rather than pretend we can make killing animals ‘clean’, we should undercut the practice by living a healthy, peaceful and green vegetarian (I really mean vegan, you know) life.
I write about these issues from time to time on my blog, which is neatly categorised so you should be able to find more info very easily from there.
Here are some worthwhile links: