A vegan diet
helps animals. Modern high-pressure agriculture commonly keeps cows,
calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other animals in overcrowded
stalls, cages, crates, or sheds where they are often unable to turn
around or take even a single step for their entire lives. Deprived
of veterinary care, exercise, sunlight, and even the feel of grass
beneath their feet, these living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings,
whose senses are so much like our own, suffer and die at the rate
of millions per day just so that we can have burgers, patties, nuggets,
and wieners. Deciding what we will eat means choosing between the
horrors of factory farming and respect for animals.
extreme pain and deprivation on today's
farms. Chickens have their beaks sliced off with a hot blade,
pigs have their tails chopped off and their teeth removed with pliers,
and male cows and pigs are castrated-all without anesthetics. The
animals are crowded together and dosed with hormones and antibiotics
to make them grow so quickly that their hearts and limbs often cannot
keep up, causing crippling and heart attacks. Finally, at the slaughterhouse,
they are hung upside-down and bled to death, often while fully conscious.
takes 25 minutes to turn a live steer into steak at the modern
slaughterhouse where Ramon Moreno works. For 20 years, his post
was “second-legger,” a job that entails cutting
hocks off carcasses as they whirl past at a rate of 309 an hour.
The cattle were supposed to be dead before they got to Moreno.
But too often they weren’t.
blink. They make noises,” he said softly. “The head
moves, the eyes are wide and looking around.”
Moreno would cut. On bad days, he says, dozens of animals reached
his station clearly alive and conscious. Some would survive
as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, the hide puller.
“They die,” said Moreno, “piece by piece.”
a 23-year-old federal law [which exempts the slaughter of birds],
slaughtered cattle and hogs first must be “stunned”—rendered
insensible to pain—with a blow to the head or an electric
shock. But at overtaxed plants, the law is sometimes broken,
with cruel consequences for animals as well as workers. Enforcement
records, interviews, videos and worker affidavits describe repeated
violations of the Humane Slaughter Act at dozens of slaughterhouses,
ranging from the smallest, custom butcheries to modern, automated
establishments such as the sprawling IBP Inc. plant here where
plants all over the United States, this happens on a daily basis,”
said Lester Friedlander, a veterinarian and formerly chief government
inspector at a Pennsylvania hamburger plant.
seen it happen. And I’ve talked to other veterinarians.
They feel it’s out of control.”
Post “Modern Meat: A Brutal Harvest,” 4/10/01
you thought living near a nuclear reactor would be a nightmare,
trying living by a factory farm. A farm producing 18,000 pigs a
year can create as much waste as a town of almost 60,000 people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin infections,
nausea, depression, and even death for people who live near factory
farms. According to other U.S. studies, as many as 70 percent of
all workers employed by hog barns suffer from bronchitis and other
respiratory illnesses resulting from the corrosive nature of hog
1997, the Senate Agricultural Committee released a report stating
that animals raised for food in the U.S. produce 130 times as much
excrement as the human population-5 tons for every person in the
United States. A Scripps Howard synopsis of the report (April 24,
1998) stated, "[I]t's untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with
chemicals and disease-bearing organisms. ... It goes onto the soil
and into the water that many people will, ultimately, bathe in and
wash their clothes with and drink. It is poisoning rivers and killing
fish and sickening people. ... Catastrophic cases of pollution,
sickness and death are occurring in areas where livestock operations
are concentrated. ... Every place where the animal factories have
located, neighbors have complained of falling sick."
has the right to use America's rivers and America's waterways, that
belong to all the people, as a sewer. The banks of a river may belong
to one man or one industry or one State, but the waters which flow
between the banks should belong to all the people." -Lyndon
B. Johnson, signing the Clean Water Act of 1965
not just animal waste that is making us sick. Vegetarians have 40
percent less cancer mortality and are less likely to suffer from
strokes, obesity, appendicitis, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes,
and food poisoning. According to the Worldwatch Institute, "Dr.
Colin Campbell of Cornell University, who headed the China Health
Project, conservatively estimates that excessive meat consumption
is responsible for between $60 and $120 billion of health care costs
each year in the United States alone."
anatomy studies show that humans are not natural carnivores. Comparisons
of our digestive tracts to those of carnivores and omnivores prove
that we have nothing in common with these other animals. (See
The Comparative Anatomy of Eating) It's no wonder that
a diet high in animal protein (including eggs, dairy, and fish)
has been linked to these and other diseases in humans.
and hormones are routinely used on farms. Factory farmers routinely
add antibiotics to animal feed to prevent the spread of disease
and hormones to induce growth. The use of antibiotics in farm animals
that are not sick causes an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria
that jeopardizes human health. Antibiotic resistance has been called
one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Antibiotic
resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children
and adults who have common infections, once easily treatable with
to drugs and hormones, meat is full of pesticides. Farmed animals
are eating pesticide-laden grain, and pesticides then collect in
the animals' flesh such that meat contains accumulations of pesticides
and other chemicals up to 14 times more concentrated than those
in plant foods.
are not just limited to farm animals. Fish flesh is laden with poisons
such as mercury and lead. In fact, the FDA recently issued a warning
to children and pregant and/or nursing women that states, "...some
fish contain high levels of a form of mercury called methylmercury
that can harm an unborn child's [and young child's] developing nervous
system if eaten regularly..."
most environmentalists recognize the havoc that animal agriculture
wreaks on the planet, they fail to recognize that the only viable
solution is to embrace a vegetarian diet. In the United States alone,
72 million animals are killed for food each day. These animals suffer
miserably, of course, but they also require staggering amounts of
grain, beans, and water and produce billions of gallons of what
is basically toxic waste. The meat industry causes more water pollution
in the United States than all other industries combined because
the animals raised for food in the U.S. produce 130 times more excrement
than the human population. Every year, factory farms dump 220 billion
gallons of animal waste onto farmland and into our waterways.
to the EPA's "Animal Waste Management: What's the Problem?":
growing scale and concentration of AFOs [animal feeding operations]
has contributed to negative environmental and human health impacts.
Pollution associated with AFOs degrades the quality of waters,
threatens drinking water sources, and may harm air quality.
AFOs produce large amounts of waste in small areas. For example,
a single dairy cow produces approximately 120 pounds of wet
manure per day. Estimates equate the waste produced per day
by one dairy cow to that of 20-40 humans per day.
Manure, and wastewater
containing manure, can severely harm river and stream ecosystems.
Manure contains ammonia which is highly toxic to fish at low
levels. Increased amounts of nutrients, such as nitrogen and
phosphorus, from AFOs can cause algal blooms which block waterways
and deplete oxygen as they decompose. This can kill fish and
other aquatic organisms, devastating the entire aquatic food
more land is required to feed a meat-eater than to feed a pure vegetarian.
for food consumes more than half of all the water used in the United
States. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat,
but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. "The water
that goes into a 1,000-pound steer would float a destroyer."
primary cause for deforestation in America is not urban development.
For each acre of American forest that is cleared to make room for
parking lots, roads, houses, and shopping malls, 7 acres of forest
are converted into land for grazing livestock and/or growing livestock
feed. Two-thirds of the rain forests of Central America have been
cleared, in part to raise cattle whose meat is exported to profit
the U.S. food industry.
for food requires more than one-third of all raw materials and fossil
fuels used in the United States.
about world hunger? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
1 acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. The same acre
of land, if used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165
pounds of beef. During the 2002 World Food Summit, United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that 24,000 people die every day
as a consequence of chronic, persistent hunger. The Hunger Project
estimates that 600 million to 1 billion people live in conditions
of poverty so severe that they are unable to obtain enough food
to meet their daily requirements. Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer
is quoted in E magazine as estimating that reducing meat production
by just 10 percent in the U.S. would free up enough grain to feed
60 million people. Adopting a vegetarian diet is kind to animals
and humans alike. "In a world where an estimated one in every
six people goes hungry each day, the politics of meat consumption
are increasingly heated, since meat production is an inefficient
use of grain-the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly
by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding
grains to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent
meat eaters and the world's poor." -Worldwatch Institute
provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's
greed." -Mohandas K. Gandhi quoted in E.F. Schumacher's Small