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August 7, 2007 > The Vegs are coming!...the Vegs are coming!

The Vegs are coming!...the Vegs are coming!

By Nancy Lyon

Actually, there no reason to worry. Aside from Adolph Hitler, most vegetarians aren't dangerously violent people nor are they avoiding the "real world." In fact, many are on a mission to help save our overcrowded and faltering planet.

People become vegetarians who eat no meat but may eat eggs and dairy products, or "vegans" who avoid eating all animal products, for a number of reasons. Some make ethical choices because of the innate cruelties of intensive factory farming practices and the horrors of the slaughter process while others hold spiritual or religious beliefs that embrace non-violence to any life form. An understanding of the global harm our dependency on meat is causing or a means to greater health may also contribute to this choice.

Millions of people have decided to make a conscious effort; to be aware of their food choices.

My personal epiphany came about almost 20 years ago. As an animal lover, I was forced to confront my avoidance of what I knew was out-of-step with my personal beliefs.

On an extremely hot afternoon, returning from the transport of a Doberman Pinscher to rescue in Sacramento, I was traveling home along the Central Valley's Interstate Highway I-5. At one momentous point, I was literally trapped between two cattle trucks carrying cows to slaughter. There was no way to pass and for twenty very long minutes I was forced to look into eyes of these helpless and doomed sentient beings packed tightly into the trucks. No water, no hope in their eyes.

Perhaps it was the Universe saying "put up or shut up." Either you care about the suffering of animals or just a select few who contribute pleasure to your life,

I got the message. That was the junction where I chose to change my life and become vegetarian - something I have never regretted

In the years that have passed I have learned a great deal about not only animal suffering in the production of food, but also its huge cost to the well-being of our global environment and human health. Awareness carries with it responsibility for your choices. It can be life transforming or not...it's all up to you, no one can do it for you.

Consider the following:

Every meatless meal contributes to offering a viable answer to feeding the world's hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops.
Rather than the wealthy regions of the world helping to feed the poor, protein is moving the other way. Well over 30,000 humans die each day from hunger or a related disease. This creates an unstable relationship between people. And we know that human violence has cost over 100 million human lives in last century.
Most grain grown in poorer regions is consumed directly by humans. For each average steak - with all the grain and costs it represents - meals could be provided to 45 people eating grains.
Meat and dairy animals around the world now outnumber people by three to one. Within as little as 10 years, the grain of the world can feed the animals of the world's farms or it can feed humans. But it cannot feed both.
Save animals from suffering in factory farm conditions and painful slaughter.

According to a report of the highly respected organization, Farm Sanctuary (Brutality: Main Crop of Factory Farms?):

Every year, over eight billion animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered under grossly inhumane conditions. Animals are crammed into small crates, dragged to auctions with chains, and slaughtered while they are fully conscious. All of these practices are considered "normal agricultural operation" and have become "business as usual" in a system driven by profit. The food animal industry treats animals as commodities, not living, feeling animals. In most factory farms, economic priorities, not humane considerations, determine industry practices in all aspects of animal agriculture, from production and transporting, to marketing and slaughter.

Conserve vital, but limited fresh water, fertile topsoil and other precious resources.

The production of one hamburger uses enough fuel to drive about 20 miles; and agriculture that uses nonhuman animals pollutes more water than all other industrial sources combined.

Manure from factory farms has been linked to contamination from pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and cryptosporidium that have caused life-threatening disease and death in humans.

Huge livestock farms are generating an estimated five tons of animal manure annually for every person in the United States.

Known as the "cell from hell," pfiesteria, a dangerous microbe associated with the poultry industry recently killed 30,000 fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Fertilizers, manures, and agricultural chemicals washed from the Mississippi have created a 7,000 square mile lifeless expanse at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico called "The Dead Zone."

Preserve irreplaceable ecosystems, such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats.

Pentagon adviser Andrew Marshall has a 30 year military career history and a good reputation in national security and risk assessment. He is not an environmental activist but in his report states, "Indications are that national security and that of all life, non-human and human, may be at risk by the continued burning of fossil fuels, by deforestation, and intensive agriculture that all produce greenhouse gases. And intensive agriculture using animals makes up a significant part of this risk."

Reduce the risk of major killers like heart disease, stroke and cancers while cutting exposure to food-borne pathogens.

According to research compiled by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, a growing body of scientific evidence has shown that people on low-fat, plant-based diets have dramatically lower rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses than meat eaters. And while a modestly low-fat diet will yield modest results, a truly low-fat diet - that is, a vegan diet, without added fat - can be an effective and powerful tool for reducing cancer and heart disease risk.

Every year on October 1st, World Vegetarian Day begins Vegetarian Awareness Month. The month of October celebrates a lifestyle that embraces compassionate, healthy food choices and ecological responsibility. In the western world, we are now faced with making serious decisions. Should we ignore the global impact of our food choices or commit to altering them through a personal course of action.

Change can be measured one meal at a time; the future is your choice. It is time to step up to the plate!

Resources:
Earth Island Institute: www.earthisland.org/eiJournal
Earth Save -Earth Save.org
Farm Sanctuary-Farm Sanctuary.org
Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine-PCRM.org
Nat'l Resources Defense Council




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