Well, guess what: every time you put a piece of meat or fish in your mouth, you are causing unnecessary harm to yourself, the animals that you are eating, and to the planet we live on. Here are just a few facts about meat consumption that you might want to consider before you sit down to your next meal:
- The standard American diet has been linked to the "diseases of affluence" that kill millions of Americans every year: heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. It's probably the biggest unnecessary killer out there today. On the other hand, studies have conclusively shown that the adoption of a low-fat or vegan diet can dramatically reduce the chances of acquiring these diseases of affluence and turn around the conditions of those who have them.
- Killing by its very nature is harmful to those who are killed. But to make matters even worse, the factory farming methods that we use to raise and process animals for food causes extreme suffering for the animals forced to experience these conditions. Humane methods of raising and slaughtering are preferable, but there is also a way to opt out of this sort of cruel practice completely: go vegetarian, or better still, vegan. Vegetarian and vegan diets provide all the essential nutrients you need to live a healthy life, without causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
- The raising of animals for food--especially in factory farming conditions--is by its very nature harmful to the environment. The waste products produced by farm animals often wind up in our waterways, killing fish, polluting rivers, and ultimately hurting human beings.
If you are looking to explore ways to adopt a plant-based diet, PETA has a free Vegetarian Starter Kit that provides basic information on vegetarian and vegan nutrition and simple but tasty recipes.
The following sites are a good place to start for those who are interested in finding out information about the dangers of animal-based diets or who want to explore the benefits of a plant-based diet:
- PETA - the mother of all animal rights organizations provides all the information that you'll ever need to know about the dangers of our animal-based diet.
- Live Vegan - a really terrific starting place for those considering adopting a vegan lifestyle.
- Earth Save - non-profit organization dedicated to helping people to adopt a low-fat, plant-based diet.
- Vegan Health - useful information for those considering removing all animal products from their diets.
- Vegsource - a source of information for all things vegetarian.
- Vegetarian Resource Group - extremely useful site for the would-be vegetarian.
- Vegan.com - Eric Marcus' website on the vegan lifestyle.
Vegetarianism is not a theory; it's a way of life. And the best way to fully explore what a vegetarian diet has to offer you is to begin cooking vegetarian or vegan meals. The following sites offer wonderful recipes that can satisfy even the most voracious carnivore:
Vegetarianism Reading List
Here are just a few of the classic works on animal rights, vegetarianism and the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle:
- John Robbins. Diet for a New America (1987)
- Francis Moore Lappe. Diet for a Small Planet (1991)
- Eric Marcus. Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating (2001)
- Jeffrey Masson. The Face on Your Plate (2009)
- Peter Singer. Animal Liberation (1990)
- Tom Regan. The Case for Animal Rights (2003)
- John Lawrence Hill. The Case for Vegetarianism (1996)
- T. Colin Campbell. The China Study (2006)
- Brenda David. Becoming Vegan (2000)
- Michael Pollan. In Defense of Food (2008) - not really vegetarian, but close enough.
For those times when you just don't have the energy to pick up a book:
- Food, Inc (2008) - One of the best films to watch in order to understand the current state of American food.
- Forks Over Knives (2011) - The medical case for a vegan diet.
- Meet Your Meat - A five minute on-line PETA film that lays out everything you need to know about animal cruelty .
- The Meatrix - based on the film "The Matrix", this short on-line cartoon exposes the dark secrets behind factory farming.