Monday, March 17, 2008

Go Veg Essay

I thought an appropriate place for this essay that I wrote would be on my blog. School essays are a great place to research and write convincing papers and articles on the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet. I take every opportunity I can to educate people on vegetarianism, esspecially in a non-confrontational way.

My essay below was written for my English class last semester. It barely touches on the aspects of a vegetarian diet, because of length restrictions. We all know that we could write 1000 page novels on the subject!

We live in a time where obesity rates are soaring, heart disease related deaths are climbing, and global warming concerns are on the nightly news. Meat-consumption related deaths are probably the single most preventable diseases, comparable to or above tobacco related deaths. We certainly would not give our children cigarettes, why would we feed them meat? Adopting a vegetarian diet is an ethical decision that is beneficial to both your health and the environment.

Adopting a vegetarian diet is an easy and healthy way to lose weight without much effort to the dieter, according to the article, “Lightening the Load.” In an April 2007 edition of Nutrition Review, studies were conducted to see how a vegetarian diet affected weight control and weight loss. They found that a vegetarian who consumes no animal products (vegans) do not have to portion control, and burn more calories than non-vegetarians. A vegetarian diet works because they “are filling, but low in calories.” Plant-based foods are also “used more efficiently as fuel for the body, as opposed to being stored as fat” (Lightening the Load). Vegetarianism is an easy diet to adopt, and many traditional foods can be adapted to a vegetarian meal.

Some people believe that eating fish is healthy for you, so they think vegetarians should also eat fish in order to get protein and essential fatty acids. First of all, vegetarians do not consume any animal, including fish, and second, the mercury levels in certain fish are so high, doctors warn pregnant mothers not to eat too much of it in order not to harm the fetus by high mercury levels. According to Dr. Neal Barnard, “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that women who ate fish just twice a week had blood mercury levels that were seven times higher than those of women who did not eat fish. A woman who eats just one can of tuna per week will be 30 percent over the EPA cutoff for safe mercury levels” (Barnard, 4). As for fatty acids, flax, hemp seeds and walnuts are a few of the many sources of omega-3s. Fish is also high in fat and cholesterol, which further makes it an unhealthy choice (Essential Fatty Acids). And finally, the oceans are being over-fished and are destroying the ecosystems of ocean life. The world's fisheries continue to be heavily subsidized, which encourages over fishing, and factory-farmed fish are a breading ground for disease (Hilborn).

A vegetarian diet can prevent many other diseases and cancers. Some of these include, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, obesity, colon cancer, and vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters (Campbell).

“How do you get your protein?” That is the questions most people ask when told someone is a vegetarian. “As long as the diet contains a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables, protein needs are easily met” (The Protein Myth). The typical American diet is actually double the daily requirement of protein. Studies also show that excess protein is actually harmful, not healthful, to the body and fad diets like the Atkins Diet is extremely unhealthy and unwise (The Protein Myth).

Even pregnant vegetarians can grow another human being solely on plant-based foods. I, for example, had a vegetarian pregnancy from conception, and gave birth to a perfectly healthy, full term baby. Protein requirements for pregnant and breastfeeding women are more than the daily recommended value, but adding an extra peanut butter sandwich or a glass of fortified soymilk every day will provide the extra protein intake needed for pregnancy and lactation (The Protein Myth).

A vegetarian diet also has an effect on our environment. Global warming is an issue of growing concern, yet most environmental groups do not advocate the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gasses, by adopting a vegetarian diet, according to the article, “A New Global Warming Strategy,” by Noam Mohr. Environmental groups are only focusing on CO2 emissions from vehicles and factories. According to James Hansen, “CO2 emissions are not the main cause of observed atmospheric warming” (Mohr). CO2 does not have near the impact on global warming that the public is lead to believe. That is not to say we can continue emitting excessive CO2, because it still has in impact. However, the best strategy to overcome and slow global warming is to adopt a vegetarian diet. Methane produces more greenhouse gasses than any other sources put together, and animal agriculture is responsible for the majority of methane released into the atmosphere. Methane emissions cause almost half of human caused warming, and growing animals for food “produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year” (Mohr). By eliminating animal consumption, “we can eliminate one of the major sources of emissions of methane” (Mohr). Reducing methane would be easier than reducing CO2, and would have less of an impact on our economy.

Raising meat for food also has devastating effects on the rainforest. In South America, in countries like Brazil, the rainforest is being slashed and burned every day in order to make grazing grounds for cattle. Scientists say destruction of the Amazon is a problem that should concern us all because Amazon deforestation contributes significantly to global warming. There are 60 million head of cattle in the Brazilian Amazon, the largest herd of any country in the world. About 40 percent of the Brazilian Amazon is protected in some way, yet 40 percent is not nearly enough to sustain the fragile hydrological cycle that maintains the rain forest. Most of the beef exports go to Europe, however, there is still a strong demand in America for imported beef (Tangley).

Many people are overwhelmed and feel helpless at the thought of stopping global warming. It would be a lot simpler for them switch to a vegetarian diet, than to stop driving, take on big corporations, and change government policy. The easiest thing that everyone can do is to eliminate animal consumption in their diets, and other animal products. Mohr suggests that environmental groups should encourage a vegetarian diet, and the government should advocate vegetarianism through public education and stopping farm subsidies for animal agriculture.
In the book, “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating,” the author, Erik Marcus, explains how the dairy and beef industry is treating cows inhumanely for the purpose raising them for food and milk. Cows naturally live to be about 25 years old, but according to Marcus, they are only allowed to live until they are 5 years old, assuming they are not male calves on their way to the slaughterhouse at only 16 weeks of age. The dairy cow is kept pregnant through her whole reproductive life, and right after she gives birth to her baby, the calve is taken, without even being allowed to suckle the milk from her. The newborn calve and the mother experience great sorrow and separation anxiety, and just a few months later, she is artificially inseminated with another pregnancy, without even fully recovering from the previous. This is all done in order to maintain her milk supply. The young calve, that is destined for veal, is then forced to stand in a small crate, is given an iron-depleted diet and is not allowed to exercise, thus being “forced into anemia” as a way to make the meat the white-pinkish color that is desired (Marcus, 130). Beef cattle also experience much abuse during their lives. “There are three major traumas inflicted on young cattle: branding, dehorning, and for males, castrating” (Marcus, 132).

Animals do feel pain. We don’t treat our dogs and cats with violence and let them live a life of torture and fear, why would we think that pigs, chickens, fish and cows do not feel the same as cats and dogs? Pigs are smarter, and every bit as friendly, loyal, and affectionate as dogs (Broom, 12).

Adopting a vegetarian diet, is not only healthy for our bodies and our planet, it is also an ethical decision to protest the mistreatment of animals raised for meat. The time has come for every person to do their part to save our youth from a lifetime of sickness and obesity, to do our part to stop the pollution and curb global warming, and be compassionate by not harming innocent animals for our taste buds. There are several reasons to not want to participate in the meat industry, and as they say “your dollar is your vote.”

Annotated Bibliography
Barnard, Neal. "Isn't Fish a Health Food?" Vegetarian Starter Kit: 4.
Many reasons and resources for a adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. Includes recipes and expert advice.

Broom, Donald. "Amazing Animals: Pigs" Vegetarian Starter Kit: 12.
Many reasons and resources for a adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. Includes recipes and expert advice.

Campbell, T. Colin, and Thomas M. Campbell. The China Study. Dallas: Benbella Books, 2006.
The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss, and long-term health.

"Essential Fatty Acids." Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 24 Nov. 2007 .
A credible website of studies by physicians that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research.

Hilborn, Ray, Trevor A. Branch, , Billy Ernst, , Arni Magnusson, Carolina V. Minte-Vera, Mark D. Scheuerell, and Juan L. Valero. "State of the World’s Fisheries." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28 (2003): 359-399. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. 24 Nov. 2007. Keyword: Fisheries.
Annual journal about the conditions of the world's fisheries.

"Lightening the Load." Good Medicine 15.2 (Spring 2006): 14-15. EBSCO. 12 November 2007.
An article about weight loss through a vegetarian diet.
Marcus, Erik. Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating. 2nd ed. Ithaca, NY: McBooks Publishing, 2001. 125-137.
A book about how you eat and it’s affects on your health, the environment and animals.

Mohr, Noam. "EarthSave Report: A New Global Warming Strategy." EarthSave. 8 Nov. 2007. .
An article about how the meat industry effects the environment and contributes to global warming.

Tangley, Laura. "AMAZONIADRYING." National Wildlife 44 (2006). Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. 24 Nov. 2007.
This article presents information about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

"The Protein Myth." Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 24 Nov. 2007 .
A credible website of studies by physicians that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research.


Vegan_Noodle said...

Great paper!! I would give you an A+. Very informative and hits all the highlights/benefits of veganism!

Isil Simsek said...

well done,you!great article!

Anonymous said...

Smart work about global warming. I have also a blog which give information about cause of global warming.

Jenny said...

Nicely written! I only wish papers like yours were readily available in every newspaper and magazine!

Anonymous said...

Great essay, hope you got a good mark. I also wrote an essay on veg*ism for my compulsory English course but didn't get a very good mark! She said that it was too long. I think she just didn't like being told the gory details of the meat industry! (Or at least that's what I keep telling myself, ha ha).

sweetpea said...

I have been a vegetarian for 22 years, but Im not impressed by your statements. Your assertions are amatuerish and unresearched. It doesnt sound like you have read any of the books you quote from. Cultish essays like this always annoy me as the arguments are so dated and biased, specifically veganism being better for the planet, and better for your health. I must disagree with you there.

LizzyQ ~ Vegan Mother said...

Sweetpea.. I am sorry you don't think my paper is good. I did have length restrictments on it, otherwise I would have been able to go into more detail about the topics I presented.

However, I feel I should tell my readers that I have actually read the books and articles that I have cited in my paper, and I have read many more. I would encourage you to read them as well, since you find it necessary to comment on my knowledge of the sources that I used. Then, maybe you will also find the overwhelming evidence about the impact of a meat-based diet on your health and the planet.