by Vernon Coleman
Vegetarianism is the fastest growing trend in the developed world.
Here are 21 reasons why you should think about turning green too.
1. Avoiding meat is one of the best and simplest ways to cut down your fat consumption. Modern farm animals are deliberately fattened up to increase profits. Eating fatty meat increases your chances of having a heart attack or developing cancer.
2. Every minute of every working day thousands of animals are killed in slaughterhouses. Many animals are bled to death. Pain and misery are commonplace. In America alone 500,000 animals are killed for meat every HOUR.
3. There are over millions of cases of food poisoning recorded every year. The vast majority of all those cases are caused by eating meat.
4. Meat contains absolutely nothing - no proteins, vitamins or minerals - that the human body cannot obtain perfectly happily from a vegetarian diet.
5. African countries - where millions are starving to death - export grain to the developed world so that animals can be fattened for the dining tables of the affluent nations.
6.`Meat' can include the tail, head, feet, rectum and spinal cord of an animal.
7. A sausage may contain ground up intestines. How can anyone be sure that the intestines are empty when they are ground up? Do you really want to eat the content of a pig's intestines?
8. If we eat the plants we grow -instead of feeding them to animals - the world's food shortage will disappear virtually overnight. Remember that 100 acres of land will produce enough beef for 20 people but enough wheat to feed 240 people.
9. Every day tens of millions of one day old male chicks are killed because they will not be able to lay eggs. There are no rules about how this mass slaughter takes place. Some are crushed or suffocated to death. Many are used for fertiliser or fed to other animals.
10. Animals who die for your dinner table die alone, in terror, in sadness and in pain. The killing is merciless and inhumane.
11. Its much easier to become - and stay - slim if you are vegetarian. (By `slim' I do not mean `abnormally slender' or `underweight' but, rather, an absence of excess weight!)
12. Half the rainforests in the world have been destroyed to clear ground to graze cattle to make beefburgers. The burning of the forests contributes 20% of all greenhouse gases.
Roughly 1,000 species a year become extinct because of the destruction of the rain forests. Approximately 260 million acres of US forest have been cleared to grow crops to feed cattle so that people can eat meat.
13. Every year 440 million tons of grain are fed to livestock - so that the world's rich can eat meat. At the same time 500 million people in poor countries are starving to death.
Every six seconds someone in the world starves to death because people in the west are eating meat. Approximately 60 million people a year die of starvation.
All those lives could be saved - because those people could eat the grain used to fatten cattle and other farm animals - if Americans ate 10% less meat.
14. The world's fresh water shortage is being made worse by animal farming. And meat producers are the biggest polluters of water. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat.
If the meat industry in America wasn't supported by the taxpayer paying a large proportion of its water costs then hamburger meat would cost $35 a pound.
15. If you eat meat you are consuming hormones that were fed to the animals. No one knows what effect those hormones will have on your health. In some parts of the world as many as one in four hamburgers contain growth hormones that were originally given to cattle.
16. The following diseases are commoner among meat eaters: anaemia, appendicitis, arthritis, breast cancer, cancer of the colon, cancer of the prostate, constipation, diabetes, gallstones, gout, high blood pressure, indigestion, obesity, piles, strokes and varicose veins.
Lifelong vegetarians visit hospital 22% less often than meat eaters - and for shorter stays. Vegetarians have a 20% lower blood cholesterol levels than meat eaters - and this reduces heart attack and cancer risks considerably.
17.Some farmers use tranquillisers to keep animals calm. Others routinely use antibiotics to stave off infection. When you eat meat you are eating those drugs.
In America 55% of all antibiotics are fed to animals and the percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin went up from 13% in 1960 to 91% in 1988.
18. In a lifetime the average meat eater will consume 36 pigs, 36 sheep and 750 chickens and turkeys. Do you want that much carnage on your conscience?
19. Animals suffer from pain and fear just as much as you do. How would you like to spend your last hours locked in a truck, packed into a cage with hundreds of other terrified animals and then cruelly pushed into a blood soaked death chamber. Anyone who eats meat condones and supports the way animals are treated.
20. Animals which are a year old are often far more rational - and capable of logical thought - than six week old babies. Pigs and sheep are far more intelligent than small children. Eating dead animals is barbaric.
21. Vegetarians are fitter than meat eaters. Many of the world's most successful athletes are vegetarian.
What CAN I eat?
Many people are put off becoming vegetarian because they can't think what they will be able to eat if they don't eat meat.
A quick trip to your local supermarket will, however, show that there are not only many different fruits and vegetables available but that because vegetarianism is growing rapidly there are many ready made vegetarian meals on sale.
You will also find many `meat substitute' meals available. You can buy vegetarian sausages and hamburgers and `stews' and `curries' made with soya and Quorn have the same texture as meals made with meat.
HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR BODY GETS THE VITAMINS AND MINERALS IT NEEDS
1. Eat a varied diet and try to include fresh fruit, green vegetables, peas and beans and wholemeal produce - all good sources of vitamins and minerals (as well as fibre!).
2. Vitamins are easily destroyed by cooking so whenever you can eat raw foods. Use as little water as possible when boiling vegetables (to avoid losing water soluble vitamins B and C). Cook vegetables for as short a time as possible.
Steam or stir fry vegetables if you can instead of boiling them - this helps to preserve water soluble vitamins. Prepare food quickly and try not to keep it hot or to reheat it - this can destroy vitamins. Keep milk away from the light because sunshine destroys some B vitamins.
3. Vitamins are often stored just underneath the skin in fruit and vegetables so eat them in their skins and don't peel them!
4. Eat plenty of nuts and seeds - these contain a variety of vitamins and minerals and make good nutritious snacks.
5. Throw out aluminium saucepans (aluminium is a potential poison which can cause brain damage) and use iron ones which can add useful quantities of iron to cooked food.
6. Dairy produce is a good source of some vitamins and minerals but skimmed or semi skimmed milk and low fat cheeses contain as much calcium and vitamin B as full cream milk and cheese (though they contain less vitamin A and vitamin D because these vitamins are fat soluble).
7. You can get supplies of iron by eating dark green, leafy vegetables, nuts, pulses, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dried fruits and fortified breakfast cereals.
8. Calcium is available in milk (including soya milk), fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruits, pulses, sunflower seeds, almonds (and some other nuts).
9. Vitamin B12 is available in foods of animal origin or in fortified soya milk, breakfast cereal and yeast extract.
10. Zinc is available in seeds, almonds, pulses and dark green vegetables.
REMEMBER: If you suspect that you could be suffering from a vitamin or mineral deficiency see your doctor for advice: never take vitamin or mineral supplements without professional medical advice.