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Ten Reasons To Go Veggie food_and_drink/real_food/article3931260.ece

May 20, 2008

10 reasons to go veggie

Hide the bacon it's World Vegetarian Week. Why not give it a go, for the week at least...

1. Helping animals also helps the global poor

While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of millions of tonnes of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, and a complex one, but not as pressing as the issue that meat-eating is.

2. Eating meat supports cruelty to animals

The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories. On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates and other confined spaces.

These animals will never raise families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything else that is natural and important to them. They won't even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.

3. Eating meat is bad for the environment

A recent United Nations report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow concluded that eating meat is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."

For example, eating meat causes almost 40 per cent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world combined.

The report concludes that the meat industry "should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

4. Avoid bird flu

The World Health Organisation says that if the avian flu virus mutates, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Other problems with factory farming ? from foot-and-mouth to SARS ? can be avoided with a general shift to a vegetarian diet.

5. If you wouldn't eat a dog, you shouldn't eat a chicken

Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals who are able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats and dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates.

Dr Chris Evans, who studies animal behaviour and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, "As a trick at conferences I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I'm talking about monkeys."

6. Heart disease and cancer are big killers

Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including the United States? three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer and strokes.

Dr T Colin Campbell is one of the world's foremost epidemiological scientists and the director of what The New York Times called "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease". Dr Campbell's best-selling book, The China Study, is a must-read for anyone who is concerned about cancer. To summarise it, Dr Campbell states, "No chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein".

7. Fitting into that tiny bikini

Vegetarianism is also the ultimate weight-loss diet, since vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters, and vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese.

Of course, there are overweight vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But on average, vegans are 10 to 20 per cent lighter than meat-eaters.

8. Global peace

Leo Tolstoy claimed that "vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism". His point? For people who wish to sow the seeds of peace, we should be eating as peaceful a diet as possible. Eating meat supports killing animals, for no reason other than humans acquired taste for animals' flesh. Great humanitarians from Tolstoy to Mahatma Gandhi have argued that a vegetarian diet is the only one for people who want to make the world a kinder place.

9. The joy of veggies

As the growing range of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants shows, veggies rock. People report that when they adopt a vegetarian diet, their range of foods explodes from a centre-of-the-plate meat item to grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables that they didn't even know existed.

10. Sir Paul McCartney says so...

"If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you could do. It's staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty."

If you are ready to give it a try check out for recipes and meal plans and to take the World Vegetarian Week 7-Day Pledge.

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