Reasons to go Vegetarian

The so-called "Green Revolution"— a shorthand description for the era in recent decades of amazing, super-efficient grain production, which facilitated a rapid explosion in human population—has clearly stalled out. Per capita worldwide cereal availability has been declining since 1984, and the "promise" of biotech is far from certain or free of risk. Today, 70 percent of grain in the U.S. and 43 percent of grain worldwide lavishly go to feed livestock. And just as the world clamors for more grain to feed to animals— so people can eat them—per-capita world cropland declined by 20 percent in the 1990s alone. The WHO says 800 million people in the world live with chronic hunger. More meat production is definitely not the answer.

A USDA inspector, part of an ABC Primetime investigation, clandestinely filmed a plant that processes a million pounds of chicken for schools each year. The investigator found carcasses laden with yellow sores and fecal matter and machines caked with harmful residues. The plant had repeatedly failed salmonella tests. Some of the cheapest, most unsanitary meat tends to be sold to schools.

Numerous Web sites instruct in the craft of artificial insemination of pigs, turkeys, and cows. In other words, bestiality is integral to today's farming operations. Sample excerpts follow: "As he sniffs around, put on disposable gloves. If he has mounted the stool, he will begin thrusting movements. With a gloved hand, rub his sheath. Now reach for the cup. The penis will erect and start to enter your clenched hand. Continue to hold the penis until the boar withdraws. The end of ejaculation is determined by a bouncing of the penis." With the sow, "a stockperson must mimic some of the stimulation normally provided by a boar, that is, back pressure and flank and udder rubbing. When the lips of the vulva are gently parted, insert the catheter."

The late parent advisor Dr. Benjamin Spock maintained that cows' milk "causes internal blood loss, allergies, and indigestion and contributes to some cases of childhood diabetes." In the last edition of his famous baby book he recommended, essentially, that children adhere to a vegan diet after the age of two. But he did not recommend dairy milk for babies either. According to renowned nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell, "Cows'- milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed."

University research has determined that the feeding of approximately 10 million tons of poultry litter to U.S. cattle and other livestock every year is safe. But the mere presence of wasted feed in the mix, which otherwise includes excreta, carcass parts, bedding, and feathers, could include the stray remains of cattle. This would seem to violate the 1997 USDA rule that no cow is to eat the flesh of another cow, instituted to thwart the spread of mad cow disease. Also, poultry litter needs to be properly composted to neutralize microbial toxins— in practice not always accomplished. Furthermore, livestock so fed need sufficient time to flush out veterinary medications that might have tainted the litter. Finally, feeding poultry litter to livestock provides one more vector for the spread of bird flu.

Beef cattle are best suited to moist climates, such as those in Europe where their ancestors evolved. But ranchers in America'sWest continue the destructive tradition of grazing their animals on the nation's most arid land. Grazing destroys ecologically regenerative riparian zones. According to a 2006 U.N. report, "the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity…as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas, and facilitation of invasions by alien species."

Adopting a high-protein fad diet may help you lose weight in the short run, but so might chemotherapy, food poisoning, or serious illness. If health is what you desire, you're eventually going to have to learn how to eat. Resoundingly, the American Heart Association and other major health organizations warn people against the Atkins and other low-carb diets, because they can cause fatigue or dizziness and strain the kidneys. Often unbeknownst to the dieter, these meal plans induce dehydration. Also, upping fat and lowering carbohydrate intake has been found to impair brain function over time.

Genetics through single-trait selection has become as important a component of today's intensive farming as drugs and confinement hardware. The animals themselves, right down to their DNA, must stand up to the rigors of the industrial process, both in life and in carcass form. They must produce at breakneck speeds and do so on as little feed as possible. And ultimately, the particular output each farmed animal unwillingly supplies must please our final end user, the consumer, in texture, taste, uniformity, convenience, and price. Mutant genes that would never survive in the wild are cultivated to monstrous ends.

Officially, Wildlife Services, a program of the USDA, prevents "damage to agriculture." Never mind that agriculture is hugely damaging to wildlife. This multi-million-dollar perk for cattle ranchers exists primarily to eradicate predators and to cull species thought to spread disease. Non-target wildlife is often caught in the crosshairs. Wildlife Services agents shoot, poison, gas, electrocute, and lethally trap millions of mammals and birds on public land where only 3.8 percent of the nation's beef is even derived. The methods are cruel and excessive and even ineffective. The program has decimated populations of grizzly bears, mountain lions, moose, elk, buffaloes, and coyotes. An intriguing global study in 2005 actually found that predators inflict negligible damage to ranching operations.

Many Americans are not getting enough magnesium. Deficiencies can cause irritability, seizures, delirium, depression, abnormal heart rhythms, spasms of the coronary arteries, anemia, blood clots, abnormal blood pressure, and even death. Where is this nutrient found? Whole grains, fruits, dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts, and, best of all, raw cacao.

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Reasons to go Vegetarian