it a Boycott
Many people are turned off to vegetarianism because of Animal
Rights "purists" who take the abuse and suffering inflicted
on animals very personally and let their emotions interfere
with their ability to rationally present their position (although
I generally agree with their position, I don't believe that
the best way to bring the issue to the mainstream is through
purism). I am of the firm opinion that given enough facts
in a non-threatening manner, that anyone with a hint of social
conscience can understand the utmost importance of at least
considering the vegetarian option.
You're not convinced by Animal Rights? Fine - I can understand
the hesitancy to throw out the age-old traditions and beliefs
that you've been taught your entire life, that is certainly
a terribly hard thing to come to grips with (although I do
encourage researching it). However, I believe, and many prominent
people in the vegetarian "movement" have advocated, that the
best way to present the case for vegetarianism to the mainstream
left is simply a matter of boycotting an immoral product.
And no, I'm not talking about immoral in that we're killing
other sentient beings so we can cook their flesh, I'm talking
of the practices of the meat industry that harm the environment,
laborers, consumers, taxpayers, and other entities. Therefore
it is critical that every leftist read on, and consider whether
they would tolerate such blatant immoral activity from companies
in other industries, or whether they would be boycotting.
The vegetarian 'boycott' is already an effective force. Growing
by the millions, vegetarians in America are forcing big companies
to consider alternatives to their normal meat-filled products.
Kellogg's owns Morningstar Farms, the manufacturer of a vast
variety of imitation meats that I personally love, some of
them moreso than actual meat products. Campbell's offers vegetarian
soups, 'Boca' Burgers are available in national restaurant
chains, and health food stores (highly stocked in vegetarian
and vegan food) are the fastest growing niche food retailer.
By becoming a vegetarian, you can be utterly assured that
you're not joining some fringe movement that will never be
powerful enough to affect real change - the meat boycott already
is, and polls show anywhere from 5 million to 15 million Americans
consider themselves vegetarians, with that number growing
each year. That's a hefty force, and by no means a boycott
that isn't widely spread.
The meat industry is a horrendous machine of mass-production
that operates with so little public knowledge of what they're
doing and so little regard for anything other than profits
that it's amazing the corruption of it all isn't more publicized.
Many people are so attached to their steaks, veal, and stuffed
turkeys that they vehemently disregard anything that tries
to expose the problems in this industry. I hope that people
can put aside their taste buds for a moment and learn about
the reality of the situation.
The meat industry is one of the largest and widespread polluters
in the country. Taking reported facts from E/The Environmental
Magazine article on meat-industry pollution (http://www.emagazine.com/january-february_2002/0102feat1.html),
factory farms produced 1.4 billion tons of animal waste in
1996, which pollutes America's waterways more than all
other industries combined.
Every U.S. household that eats meat is responsible for 20
tons of livestock manure a year. The 1995 New River hog waste
spill poured 25 million gallons of pollution in North Carolina
into the water, killing 10 to 14 million fish. Over 1/3 of
all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S. are used
for animal production. Creating 1 lb. of hamburger uses enough
fossil fuel to drive 20 miles and causes the erosion of 5
times it's weight in topsoil. Every vegetarian is responsible
for saving 1 acre of trees per year, that would otherwise
be cut down for grazing (not to mention rainforests cut down
Additionally, the federal government generally subsidizes
all this abuse by allowing grazing on public lands and using
taxpayer money to support the meat industry. Essentially,
not only is meat-eating directly financing the destruction
of the environment, but every taxpayer is forced to pay for
the destruction through government subsidies
There is no escaping it - by purchasing meat, one is financing
arguably the largest polluter in the world.
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances
for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to
a vegetarian diet."
The sad fact is that we live in an over-populated world.
We can't feed all the people who live here without destroying
the things that feed us. Third-world countries have massive
famine problems, innocent men, women and children die on a
daily basis because of malnutrition. While we worry about
the Dow and Nasdaq, they worry about where their next meal
will come from.
What does this have to do with vegetarianism? Waste, that's
what. Again, taking facts reported in E/The Environmental
and widely reported elsewhere, the reality is that eating
meat is contributing to the starvation of innocent people.
It takes 4.8 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of beef. That means,
in simple terms, that we're wasting 80% of our grain on factory
farming. That grain could be shipped to third-world countries
to feed people. It could mean the difference between a slow,
suffering death and having a meal every day for millions of
The article goes on to illustrate that a 10 acre farm can
feed "60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat,
10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle." Furthermore,
the article brings a much better illustration to light, with
the following example. "...imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce
steak. 'Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people
with empty bowls in front of them. For the 'feed cost' of
your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full
cup of cooked cereal grains.'"
What is the single most dangerous job in America? NY taxicab
driver? Police officer? Wild animal trainer? Nope - slaughterhouse
laborer. That's right, working in a slaughterhouse is the
absolute most hazardous job in the country. Why? It's simple,
thousands of live cows are brought in daily, some of them
remain conscious after the initial shock/beating on the head/whatever
the slaughterhouse uses to knock them out. They then, fearing
rightfully for their life, go nuts and start charging, kicking,
etc. The diseases spread by millions of pounds of raw meat
cycling through the slaughterhouse spread like wildfire. Having
to work in conditions where you must wear rubber boots up
to your waist to keep the, literally, lake of blood off your
skin and open wounds inevitably leads to accidents.
The U.S. Labor Department in 1998 reported that 29.3% of
meat workers suffered injury or illness, compared to 9.3%
for the rest of manufacturing. Meat companies, always worried
about the bottom line rather than human life, put enormous
pressure on their laborers to work faster. Working faster,
inevitably, causing more mistakes and 'accidents'.
According to Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation",
a former meat factory nurse said, "I could always tell the
line speed by the number of people with lacerations coming
into my office." (http://www.purefood.org/irrad/slaughterworkers.cfm)
Slaughterhouse labor also has one of the highest turn-over
rates in the country.
The factory-farming industry also is responsible for massive
abuses of immigrant labor. According to an article on purefood.org
(same url as before), a beef company bused workers from the
Mexican border to a Minneapolis homeless shelter.
Meat workers are paid very low wages and generally have no
basic benefits such as health insurance.
The meat industry is guilty of virtually every unpardonable
sin that the left generally condemns other industries for,
yet the left is eerily silent when it comes to meat. Vegetarianism
is not unhealthy, quite to the contrary, many studies have
shown that vegetarians are far healthier than meat-eaters.
Additionally, most people who turn vegetarian report that
their initial fear over being 'bored' at mealtime was unfounded,
and that contrary to their anticipations, they've actually
found they've discovered far more enticing options to eat
for dinner than when they were meateaters. They also often
report a more intense relationship with their food, where
they learn to appreciate it's nourishment more.
Many people in a very noble first-step often turn to 'free-range'
meat products, where the animals are not fed the massive amounts
of hormones (linked to early puberty in children, immune deficiencies,
and cancer) and other drugs and where the animals are allowed
to live a semi-normal life and slaughtered 'humanely'. This
is definitely a great step in the right direction.
The problem lies in that there is absolutely no legal restriction
on the use of the term 'free-range'. Many 'free-range' eggs
are produced by hens who are only allowed out to stretch their
wings and scratch the ground for one hour a day, for example.
Moving to more-expensive free-range meat is a good step, but
it's not a solution, as the problems listed above are generally
still relevant to free-range farms as much as factory-farms.
Furthermore, the arguments above, deliberately, do not touch
base on animal rights issues and human health issues much,
if at all. This is on purpose, as I feel the controversy regarding
these issues can lead to an all-around dismissal of vegetarianism
rather than presenting the argument purely from a boycott
In the end, I can testify that after approximately 9 months
of being a vegetarian, that it's been nothing that I expected.
I ate meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I couldn't get
enough. I loved my medium-rare steaks with cajun, pepper,
garlic, and salt. My medium-well burgers with cheese, mayo
and lettuce. My sausage and bacon for breakfast, oh it was
delicious. I didn't think I could ever be a vegetarian.
Nowadays, I get physically ill (literally, that's not an
expression) if I accidentally ingest some meat-grease or other
meat product, and as much as my taste buds yearn for those
steaks, I can't stomach (again, literally) the idea of eating
meat. And not only has my physical body rejected meat (as,
I believe, is natural for humans) but my logical mind rejects
the idea of financing such a corrupt and immoral industry.
In short, despite the strongest opposition to vegetarianism
in the world, I've become a true believer... And so can you,
if you give it the chance it deserves.