Elizabeth Turner: Hi! This is Elizabeth Turner with Vegetarian Times Magazine.
One of the biggest questions that I get is why do people choose to go vegetarian? There are so many great reasons to go vegetarian, but the big three I think can be broken down as Health, Environment and Ethics. So first let's talk Health.
Being a vegetarian actually is great for your heart. People who are vegetarian have less heart disease, they have less hypertension and they have lower cholesterol levels. It's also great for diabetes. There are studies that show that being a vegetarian can actually reverse Type II diabetes. And then there is cancer. People who are vegetarian are significantly less likely to have cancer, especially when you are talking about cancer of the breast, prostate or colon. There is also really good news for women who are concerned about osteoporosis, and that is that being a vegetarian is actually very, very good for your bones. Research has shown; the more animal protein you eat, the more calcium you lose. So those are the big health things to think about.
Now let's talk about the second in the big three, which is Environment. Big news came out in 2006 when the United Nations released a report showing that 18% of all green house gas emissions actually come from the livestock industry. Part of the problem is that the demand for meat all around the world is going up. In the US, in the 1950s, the average American ate about 144 pounds of meat a year. In 2007 that number had gone up to 222 pounds a year, that's a 64% increase. Now in America the number has sort of leveled off, but in developing countries, the number is going up really fast. Countries that used to be mostly vegetarian, like China, they are now really wanting to put meat up the center of their plate, and so as demand goes up, we are clear cutting the rainforest to create more factory farms, to create more meat, this is really eroding the land. In fact, about 30% of the world's arable land is used either to raise livestock or to grow food for livestock, and that's creating water pollution and land erosion.
Okay, so now let's talk about the third reason that people choose to go vegetarian, Ethics. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 10 billion land animals are raised in the US every year for food, it's about the same number for fish, and the problem with that is animals are raised in factory farms where they are dosed with antibiotics to keep them healthy. They are fed food that they were never evolved to eat, and they live in truly miserable conditions. So if you don't want to support the factory farming system, if you don't want to eat the product of factory farming, you can eat vegetarian. Every meal that you eat is vegetarian, is a way of voting with your food dollars.
So those are the big three reasons, health, environment and ethics that might cause you to consider going vegetarian.