The results of a survey revealed that the top reasons/incentives for being a vegetarian include:
1. Animal Welfare
Predator-prey relationship exists naturally, and denying such relationship is thus denying the fundamental mechanisms of nature – natural selection and evolution. Therefore, vegetarians who concern about the “killing” of animals in fact concern about the killing of a certain group of animal. The fundamental moral problems is thus arisen.
Is it wrong in principle to raise and kill animals so that human beings can eat them?
Many vegetarians would argue that an animal raised for food is being used by others rather than being respected for itself. In other words, its existence has no meaning but to be killed and eaten by human beings. Since meat is not required for our survival, many vegetarians think that it is unethical to eat meat; they believe that eating meat sacrifices the animals’ fundamental interest – survival – for our trivial desire – taste. [Read More
Much natural resources, such as water, is used to raise animals for consumption
“Although statistics vary, it is safe to say that it takes at least three times the amount of water to feed a meat eater compared with that used to feed a vegan.” [Quote
In industrialized agriculture, arable land has to be irrigated to increase crop yields. Moreover, much of the land is devoted to growing feed crops for livestock. The manure of livestock is excellent natural fertilizer; however, when animals are raised in confined areas for meat, their nitrogen-rich waste become sources of pollutants that contaminate water resources. Moreover, while vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, livestock contributes to the emission of methane, which is 20 times more potent to warm up the earth than carbon dioxide. Methane is produced by bacteria in the stomachs of cattle and sheep. Many believe that meat eating is responsible for at least a third of all biological methane emissions. [Read More
Incentives to Improve overall health
Many vegetarians (and vegetarian-inclined people) believe that their diets are closely connected to lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Much research has been dedicated to find the connection from vegetarian diet and (chronic) disease development. There are scientists claiming that vegetarians are 40% less likely to develop cancer than omnivores, possibly because vegetarians consume more antioxidants that present in fruit and vegetables.
However, it is unfair to think that omnivore’s diet is less healthy than a vegetarian diet. As long as the meat intake is limited in a healthy range and adequate amount of fruit and vegetables are consumed, an omnivore’s diet can have all the benefits that a vegetarian diet provides. [Read More
After learning about the incentives of becoming a vegetarian, I think about my family’s diet. My dad is a meat-lover; however, his meat intake reduces significantly in recent years. He happened to see a car accident of the truck of a farm with full load of pigs, and what he saw made him feel bad with eating animals. His concern of animal welfare reduces his consumption of meat. Moreover, he wants to improve his health and prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases, and that is another reason why he limits meat intake.
On the other hand, my mom is a vegetable-lover. Her family raised pigs when she was little. She told me that grandma only killed a pig for food during lunar new year and she always prayed for the pig while it was still alive. Moreover, my mom believes that vegetables and fruits are healthy while meat is not. Though I have tried to ask her to collect more information, her belief would not change.
You can see that concerns for animal welfare and incentives for health improvement are forces that drive my parents to consume mainly vegetables. For me, environmental concern is a dominant incentive. Although I do not see myself become a vegetarian anytime soon, I am motivated to consume less meat and in return, save energies. Moreover, I am motivated to put effort in purchasing post-organic meat (like those produced in Polyface) as long as I get the chance to. I believe that what our diets can make a difference, and I encourage you to take the initiative.
That all being said, I will end this rather long post with a quote.
“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” [Quote]