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Do You Know What You Are Eating?

[MSU State News - opinion]

Do you know what you're eating?

Imagine living a life in which you are constantly pumped full of drugs and in total darkness and isolation from the outside world. No, I'm not talking about President George W. Bush; I'm talking about the billions of animals slaughtered every year in cruel factory farms, where crude mutilation, brutal beatings and being scalded alive are routine incidents.

Today's livestock production is not the nostalgic "mom and pop" farms we typically imagine. Family-owned farms where animals roam in pastures comprise less than 2 percent of total livestock output. The rest are what are commonly referred to as "factory farms" -- corporate processing facilities where animals are treated as products instead of living creatures capable of suffering. Animals are treated in such a way as to ensure profitability, with no regard for their well-being as self-aware individuals.
The protein in meat so dogmatically worshipped, especially by bodybuilders, is just as accessible and in many other ways when derived from meatless substances, such as beans, nuts, lentils and whole grains. At 155 pounds, I am not a big guy, but my personal record on the bench press is 240 pounds, all without dairy, eggs or meat. That's nothing when compared with vegan bodybuilders like Mike Mahler, but it's still proof that vegetarians are just as capable, if not more capable athletes.

Call yourself an environmentalist? If you really want to be resource conscious, consider that 80 percent of all agricultural land and just less than half of all water procured in the United States is used to feed livestock, not humans. The vast majority of the caloric energy put into animals for feeding is lost simply by the animal living its life, no matter how cramped and immobile it may be. It would be tremendously more efficient to simply eat cultivated plants.
Perhaps the best part about being vegan or vegetarian is that it has never been easier. There are vegan products for everything you could possibly imagine -- from black-bean burgers to soy ice cream -- all of which are a lot healthier than their traditional counterparts.

It's impossible to live your life without causing any pain at all -- just ask an MSU parking enforcer. But for your health, for the environment and for the animals, try taking meat off your plate. For everything you want to know about being vegetarian and to see how sexy it is to be one, visit

Drew Winter is an MSU journalism and English junior. He is running for "Sexiest Vegetarian" at Reach him at [email protected].

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