Practical Issues > Health - Index > Vegan Index

Realities 1989
Facts excerpted from the Pulitzer Prize nominated
"Diet for a New America" by John Robbins.
Full documentation of every fact is in the book available from EarthSave.

World Hunger Human population of United States: 243,000,000
Number of human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock: 1,300,000,000
Sacred food of Native Americans: Corn
Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by human beings: 20
Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by livestock: 80
Percentage of oats grown in United States eaten by livestock: 95
Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
Percentage of carbohydrate wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 99
Percentage of dietary fibre wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 100
How frequently a child dies of starvation: Every 2 seconds
Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on 1 acre of land: 20,000
Pounds of beef that can be produced on 1 acre of land: 165
Percentage of U.S. agricultural land used to produce beef: 56
Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce 1 pound of feedlot beef: 16
Pounds of protein fed to chickens to produce 1 pound of protein as chicken flesh: 5 pounds
Pounds of protein fed to hogs to produce 1 pound of protein as hog flesh: 7.5 pounds
Number of children who starve to death every day: 40,000
Number of pure vegetarians who can be fed on the amount of land needed to feed 1 person consuming meat-based diet: 20
Number of people who will starve to death this year: 60,000,000
Number of people who could be adequately fed by the grain saved if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 60,000,000



Historic cause of demise of many great civilizations: Topsoil depletion
Percentage of original U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
Amount of U.S. cropland lost each year to soil erosion: 4,000,000 acres, the size of Connecticut
Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly associated with livestock raising: 85
Number of acres of U.S. forest which have been cleared to create cropland to produce a meat-centred diet: 260,000,000
How often an acre of U.S. trees disappears: Every 8 seconds
Amount of trees spared per year by each individual who switches to pure vegetarian diet: 1 acre



Rainforest Destruction A driving force behind the destruction of the tropical rainforests: American meat habit
Amount of meat imported annually by U.S. from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama: 200,000,000 pounds
Amount of meat eaten by average person in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Panama: Less than average American housecat
Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests and related habitats: 1,000/year



Energy, True Cost Length of time the world's petroleum reserves would last if all human beings ate meat-centred diets: 13 years
Length of time the world's petroleum reserves would last if all human beings ate a vegetarian diet: 260 years
Principal reason for U.S. military intervention in Persian Gulf: Dependence on foreign oil
Barrels of oil imported daily by U.S.: 6,800,000
Percentage of energy return (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of most energy efficient factory farming of meat: 34.5%
Percentage of energy return (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of least energy efficient plant food: 32.8%
Pounds of soybeans produced by the amount of fossil fuel needed to produce 1 pound of feedlot beef: 40
Percentage of raw materials consumed in U.S. for all purposes presently consumed to produce current meat-centred diet: 33
Percentage of raw materials consumed in U.S. for all purposes needed to produce fully vegetarian diet: 2
User of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the United States: Livestock production
Quantity of water used in the production of the average cow sufficient to: Float a destroyer
Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons
Water needed to reduce 1 pound of meat: 2,500 gallons
Cost of common hamburger meat if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by U.S. taxpayers: $35/pound
Current cost for pound of protein from wheat: $1.50
Current cost for pound of protein from beefsteak: $15.40
Cost for pound of protein from beefsteak if U.S. taxpayers ceased subsidizing meat industry's use of water: $89



Feedlot Sewage Production of excrement by total U.S. human population: 12,000 pounds/second
Production of excrement by U.S. livestock: 250,000 pounds/second
Sewage systems in U.S. cities: Common
Sewage systems in U.S. feedlots: Nil
Amount of waste produced annually by U.S. livestock in confinement operations which is not recycled: 1 billion tons
Relative concentration of feedlot wastes compared to raw domestic sewage: Ten to several hundred times more highly concentrated
Where feedlot waste often ends up: In our water



Nutrition Number of U.S. medical schools: 125
Number of U.S. medical schools with required course in nutrition: 30
Training in nutrition received during 4 years of medical school by average U.S. physician: 2.5 hours
How frequently a heart attack strikes in the U.S.: Every 25 seconds
How frequently heart attack kills in U.S.: Every 45 seconds
Most common cause of death in U.S.: Heart attack
Risk of death from heart attack by average American man: 50%
Risk of death from heart attack by average American vegetarian man: 15%
Risk of death from heart attack by average American pure vegetarian man: 4%
Amount you reduce your risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs 10%: 9%
Amount you reduce the risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs by 50%: 45%
Amount you reduce your risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs by 100%: 90%
Rise in blood cholesterol level from consuming 1 egg per day: 12%
Rise in heart attack risk from 12% rise in blood cholesterol: 24%
Meat, dairy, and egg industries claim there is no reason to be concerned about your blood cholesterol as long as it is: "normal"
Your risk of dying of a disease caused by clogged arteries if your blood cholesterol is "normal": over 50%
Your risk of dying of a disease caused by clogged arteries if you do not consume saturated fat and cholesterol: 5%
Leading sources of saturated fat and cholesterol in American diets: Meat, dairy products, and eggs
Hollywood celebrity paid by meat board to tout beef as "Real food for real people": James Garner
Medical event experienced by James Garner in April, 1988: Quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery
World populations with high meat intakes who do not have correspondingly high rates of colon cancer: None
World populations with low meat intakes who do not have correspondingly low rates of colon cancer: None
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to women who eat meat less than once a week: 4 times higher
Egg Board's advertising slogan: The incredible edible egg
Photographs often accompanying the egg board's slogan: Young women in bathing suits, emphasizing the shape of their breasts
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat eggs daily compared to women who eat eggs less than once a week: 3 times higher
Milk Producers original ad campaign slogan: "Everybody needs milk"
What the Federal Trade Commission called the "Everybody needs milk" slogan: "False, misleading and deceptive"
Milk Producer's revised campaign slogan: "Milk has something for everybody"
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat butter and cheese 3 or more times a week compared to women who eat these foods less than once a week: 3 times higher
Part of female chicken's body that produces eggs: Ovaries
Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week compared to women who eat eggs less than once a week: 3 times higher
Foods males in U.S. are conditioned to think of as "manly": Animal products
Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meats, cheese, eggs, and milk daily compared to men who eat these foods sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times higher



Food Groups Recommended percentage of daily calories to be derived from protein according to World Health Organization: 4.5%
Recommended percentage of daily calories to be derived from protein according to Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S.D.A: 6%
Recommended percentage of daily calories to be derived from protein according to National Research Council: 8%
Percentage of calories as protein in wheat: 17%
Percentage of calories as protein in broccoli: 45%
Percentage of calories as protein in rice: 8%
Disease linked to inadequate protein consumption: Kwashiorkor
Number of cases of kwashiorkor in United States: Virtually none
Diseases linked to excess protein consumption: Osteoporosis and Kidney failure
Number of cases of osteoporosis and kidney failure in the United States: Tens of millions
The average measurable bone loss of female meat-eaters at age 65: 35%
The average measurable bone loss of female vegetarians at age 65: 18%
Person who popularized the concept of protein combining: Frances Moore Lappe
Frances Moore lappe's updated research on a healthy, varied vegetarian diet: Protein combining is completely unnecessary.
Health status of pure vegetarians from many populations of the world according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences: Excellent
The Meat Board tells us: Today's meats are low in fat.
The Meat Board shows us: A serving of beef they claim has "only 300 calories".
The Meat Board doesn't tell us: The serving of beef they show us is only 3 ounces (half the size of an average serving of beef) and has been surgically defatted with a scalpel.
The dairy industry tells us: Whole milk is 3.5% fat
The dairy industry doesn't tell us: That 3.5% figure is based on weight, and most of the weight in milk is water
The dairy industry doesn't want us to know: The amount of calories as fat in whole milk is 50%
Oscar Mayer tells us: It is "myth" that hot dogs are fatty
Oscar Mayer demonstrates their point by favourably comparing the fattiness of hot dogs to such low fat bastions as: Margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and cream cheese
The Dairy Council tells us: Milk is nature's most perfect food
The Dairy Council doesn't tell us: Milk is nature's food for a baby calf, who has four stomachs, will double its weight in 47 days and is destined to weigh 300 pounds within a year
The Dairy Council tells children: To grow up big and strong, drink lots of milk
The Dairy Council occasionally tells children: The enzyme necessary for digestion of milk is lactase
The Dairy Council never tells children: 20% of Caucasian children and 80% of Black children have no lactase in their intestines.
The meat, dairy, and egg industries tell us: Animal products constitute 2 of the "Basic 4" food groups
The meat, dairy, and egg industries don't tell us: There were originally 12 official basic food groups, before these industries applied enormous political pressure on behalf of their products
The meat, dairy, and egg industries tell us: We are well-fed only with animal products
The meat, dairy, and egg industries don't tell us: The diseases which are commonly prevented, consistently improved, and sometimes cured by low-fat vegetarian diet include: Strokes Heart disease Kidney stones Breast cancer Prostate cancer Pancreatic cancer Cervical cancer Stomach cancer Diabetes Hypoglycemia Peptic ulcers Constipation Hiatal hernias Diverticulosis Gallstones Hypertension Salmonellosis Trichinosis Osteoporosis Colon cancer Ovarian cancer Endometrial cancer Kidney disease Hemorrhoids Obesity Asthma Irritable colon syndrome

Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide residues in the U.S. diet supplied by meat: 55%
Pesticide residues in the U.S. diet supplied by Dairy products: 23%
Pesticide residues in U.S. diet supplied by vegetables: 6%
Pesticide residues in U.S. diet supplied by fruits: 4%
Pesticide residues in U.S. diet supplied by grains: 1%
Percentage of U.S. mother's milk containing significant levels of DDT: 99%
Percentage of U.S. vegetarian mother's milk containing significant levels of DDT: 8%
Relative pesticide contamination in breast milk of meat-eating mothers compared to pesticide contamination in breast milk of vegetarian mothers: 35 times as high
Percentage of male college students sterile in 1950: 0.5
Percentage of male college students sterile in 1978: 25
Sperm count of average American male compared to 30 years ago: Down 30%
Principle reason for sterility and sperm count reduction in U.S. males: Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, including dioxin, DDT, etc
Percentage of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide residues in American diet attributable to meats, dairy products, fish and eggs: 94%
The meat Board tells us not to be concerned about the dioxin and other pesticides in today's beef because: the quantities are too small
The meat board doesn't want us to know: How potent dioxin and the other pesticides are.
The meat board particularly doesn't want us to know: A mere ounce of dioxin could kill 10 million people
The USDA tells us: Our meat is inspected
The USDA doesn't tell us: Less than 1 out of every quarter million slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues
The dye used for many years by the USDA for many years to stamp meats "Choice", "Prime", or "U.S. No.1 USDA": Violet Dye No.1.
Current status of Violet Dye No.1: Banned as proven carcinogen



Animal Factories

Wingspan of average leghorn chicken: 26 inches
Space average leghorn chicken given in egg factories: 6 inches
Number of 700 plus pounds pigs confined to space the size of a twin bed in typical factory farm: 3
Reason today's veal is so tender: Calves never allowed to take single step
Reason today's veal is whitish-pink: Calves force fed an anemia-producing diet
McDonald's brags: 60 million sold
McDonald's doesn't brag about: 50 million butchered
McDonald's clown, Ronald McDonald, tells children: Hamburgers grow in hamburger patches and love to be eaten
McDonald's clown, Ronald McDonald, doesn't tell children: Hamburgers are ground up cows who've had their throats slit by machetes or their brains bashed in by sledgehammers
Original actor to play Ronald McDonald: Jeff Juliano
Diet now followed by Jeff Juliano: Vegetarian
Number of animals killed for meat per hour in U.S.: 500,000
Occupation with highest employee turnover rate in U.S.: Slaughterhouse worker
Occupation with highest employee rate of injury in U.S.: Slaughterhouse worker
Cost to render an animal unconscious prior to slaughter with captive bolt pistol so that process is done humanely: 1 penny
Reason given by meat industry for not utilizing captive bolt pistol: Too expensive



Antibiotics

Percentage of total antibiotics used in U.S. fed routinely to livestock: 55
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91
Reason: Breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock
Effectiveness of all "wonder-drug" antibiotics: Declining rapidly
Reason: reeding of antibiotics resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock
Response by entire European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: Ban
Response by American meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: Full and complete support



Athletic Performance

Only man to win Ironman Triathlon more than twice:
Dave Scott, 6 time winner
Food choices of Dave Scott: Vegetarian

World record holder for 24 hour triathlon (swim 4.8 miles, cycle 185 miles, run 52.5 miles):
Sixto Linares
Food choices of Sixto Linares: Strict vegetarian

Athlete who most totally dominated Olympic sport in track and field history:
Edwin Moses, undefeated in 8 years, 400 meter hurdles
Food choices of Edwin Moses: Vegetarian

Other notable vegetarian athletes:
Stan Price: World record-bench press
Robert Sweetgall: World's premier ultra-distance walker
Paavo Nurmi: 20 World's records in distance running, 9 Olympic medals
Bill Pickering: World record swimming English Channel
Murray Rose: World records 400 and 1500 meter freestyles
Andreas Cahling: Winner Mr International body building championships
Roy Hilligan: Winner Mr America body building championships
Pierreo Verot: World's record for downhill endurance skiing
Estelle Gray and Cherly Marek: World's record for cross-country tandem cycling
James and Johnathon deDonato: World's record for distance butterfly stroke swimming
Ridgely Abele: Winner of 8 national championships in Karate, including U.S. Karate Association World Championships

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