The Essential of Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism is as essential as the beauty in Romanticism. It is, itself, like a garden of affection, a plethora of compassion. Civilization defines it as the abstinence from meat. The heart defines it as humaneness in action -- the epitome of truth and kindness. If every man can be measured against his virtues and vices, then the man who refuses to consume creatures of this Earth will be virtuous by uncountable degrees. Any person who has come in contact with an animal, has caressed its scales or fur, will know that it reacts to the world around it, will know that it is a conscious being -- they will know that it is just as human as they are, just as sensitive, and just as alive in a real sense. The humane man will grant the animals of this world what he grants his fellow men: the right to live and be happy. On the basis of humaneness, on the foundation of sympathy, the humane man will not destroy ancient forests that are homes to millions of animals, nor will he raise an animal to be destroyed to please his senses of vanity or appetite. It is this, Vegetarianism, that is essential. There are those who call Vegetarianism a thing that will bring no change, that it has no hopes of reform. But those men who have a single sense of humanity and dignity will attest to this creed that all animals deserve rights. Like the honey bee that tries to get nectar from a dead flower, a bear trying to nurse her sick cub, a child waiting hours for his father to come home, Vegetarianism is as essential as the very force of life that runs through the heart of every living man.
All creatures that are on this planet -- whose genetics have granted them the organs that grant them sensory -- are capable of feeling as any human. They are born with four legs, with long ears, with beaks, with fins, with wings, these creatures that are subject to physical appearance that plagued their parents. Yet every creature is undeniably born with the same ability to think, to feel, to suffer. The men in society who wish to keep wealth and power to themselves have always tried ardently to make a separation. They have said that women were not equal to men, that Africans were not equal to Europeans, that children do not deserve the same rights as adults. These power hungry and greedy men have existed in every society that has fostered a belief in supremacy of a group. And so they exist in today's society, where "humanity" is blessed and "animals" are cursed. The philosophers know that animals contain all the characteristics that make a human: individuality, emotions, desires, ability to suffer. And the scientists know that humans are just another animal, just another creature of complex psychology. The great lines are drawn and the masses are oppressed. A separation is made, no matter how fickle it is. It is said that animals do not deserve rights because they're not smart, they're not superior, they're not strong, they're not enabled with language -- any excuse to make a separation. An action of ignorance and cruelty can be defined as thus: to deny sympathy to a group, and an action of kindness and reverence can be defined as thus: to open the net of compassion wider to a broader group of conscious beings.
The Justification of Vegetarianism
The justification for Vegetarianism is the same as the justification for any humane cause. It is for the sake of affection -- a longing, beautiful desire of benevolence -- that Vegetarianism is justified. By looking at a person's emotions, by seeing what they believe and what they think, we can determine if they are compassionate. By looking at a person's habits, by seeing if they act as they believe, we can determine if they practice what they believe. By seeing a Vegetarian, a lover of life, we can tell that they are an individual that practices as much as they believe. Everything that has been gained through vice is the epitome of corruption, an ever present sign of weakness. Yet everything done for lightening another's load, for showing gratitude and care -- everything that is the result of sympathy -- is an undying symbol of life, a chariot pulling the soul of endurance. In a thousand years, Vegetarianism will still be carried on the wings of angels of mercy; it will still be the reflection of inner beauty, the mirror of affection -- a thing of wondrous depth and incomparable realness. For hundreds of years, reformers have had the conviction to put an end to every cruel, relentless abuse they saw. The tortures that were routine in prison, the child labor endorsed by businesses, every exploited group and every profitable journey -- these reformers were there. They gave courage to the small, they gave hope to the future, and most of all, they gave their souls that others might be free, liberated from the unfeeling grasp of tyranny. Vegetarianism is the modern reform, and its followers are attracted by a strict sense of empathy, an unavailing desire for change, and an emphasis on the object of their affections: the animals.
Equality and liberty. These are the two objectives of Vegetarianism. If all men are equal, deserving of justice and fairness, then what can be said of all animals? All men can think and feel alike; they can all understand the same sympathies and the same sufferings -- they are all conscious beings. This is true of humans as it is true of animals. In fact, humans are simply another breed of animals. The non-human animal species are simply another oppressed group, another exploited mass. For centuries, they denied rights to other men. Africans were not even considered humans. They were but slaves, mere objects to be used and abused for the end of profit. And so it is the plight of animals today: they are reared in farms to be slaughtered, they are experimented in laboratories, they are skinned to become coats and shoes. Every pair of leather shoes, every slice of meat, every animal-tested conditioner, is an affirmation that counter-progression is being made -- they are a symbol that cruelty is an inherent part of our culture, and that mercy is a thing without value. When humans became civilized, they gave up slavery and malice. When humans became sympathetic and feeling of others, soon they gave up all aspects of Racism and Sexism. There was no human beyond the pale of consideration, no child held without kindness, and no person given over to oppression. Yet humans today are only in a state of semi-savagery: the rights given to animals can be seen easily in the fact that they make up part of our diet. It is in the great Humanitarian spirit that reform is accomplished; it is in this spirit, that pleas for Animal Liberation are made. To quote Henry Stephens Salt...
It was wrong in the minds of the affectionate thinkers that women were to be confined to kitchen; it was also wrong in the minds of these thinkers for slavery to exist -- the mere ownership of one's emotions and bodies. It should be little surprise then that the humane thinkers have always cast doubt upon the justification of eating meat. An non-human animal is just another creature. It is just another being that can feel as any man can feel, as any human can feel. The suffering that any man can feel is the same as the suffering that any animal can feel. The color of skin is not enough to separate the equality of two men. If this is true, then what is the quantity of legs to separate the equality of two animals? Peter Singer has said...
It has been said that war knows no limits -- that as long as there is a society that nurtures greed, there will always be war. It is also true, however, that kindness knows existence within the minds of humane thinkers. Like stars in a dark sky, Humanitarians have been known to every era, to every generation. Their reform reached the deepest shores of every heart; no suffering was too trivial, no abuse too insignificant -- it was through the driven ambition and relentless sacrifice by thinkers, from every culture and every time, that has produced the ethic of humanity that flourishes today as it did yesterday. To quote Humphry Primatt...
When it comes to the concern of animals' rights, the ethic of humanity has not always flourished, nor does it flourish today. The rights of an animal extend little further than the dinner plate. The brutality committed for the sake of pleasure, of taste, is an abomination. Cows are bred and slaughtered, in unspeakable conditions, all so that humans may consume their carcasses. There is no pity, no sympathy, in the unaffected attitude of society. There is but the slow-dying moan of the animal as it sinks below the treachery and cruelty of an unfeeling society. By the constant, unavailing abuse, the unbelievable horror -- the very fabric of things that make up oppression -- it is by these things that mankind still retains its impenetrable grasp on the rights of animalia. Without caprice or thought, without a single, solitary doubt, the rights of non-human animals are trampled on. No care is given to their disposition, no moment spared for the sake of contemplating their plight; it is in our sick and sad state of society that an animal is worth nothing more than the taste that its flesh has, than the glimmer its coat has, than the suffering it can render in scientific experiments. Cruelty, abuse, and tyranny! As the humane thinkers have persevered in liberating the sexes and the races, so they must persevere in liberating animalia!
There are those who question the faculties of animals. They say, that for some reason or another, animals are not smart, moral, or -- to some degree or another -- they are intrinsically inferior. Some even postulate that animals are not conscious beings. To quote Philip Austin, who opposed Animal Rights...
To say that animals are undeserving of rights -- because of whatever physical discrepancies, whatever arbitrary differences -- is but the epitome of cruelty and ignorance. It is a confession of brutality, an adherence to inhumanity, a creed of heartlessness. I cannot believe, by the writ of experience and science, that any man would be so inhumane as to understand the fears of an animal, the sufferings of an animal, and to so thoughtlessly strike that animal, inflicting unbelievable pain. Men surely understand these concepts, but rarely are they applied to the animal world. It is not often that men are to speak of the suffering inflicted to the animal world, nor is it common for humans to discuss the fears and the hardships endured by millions of animals. It is true that human society may understand these concepts alone, but rarely are they applied to the non-human animalia; it is uncommon for the feelings of any animal to be compared with humans. By fierce and brute ignorance, only, can man be so inhumane. And so, the phrase goes, "if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be Vegetarians." To quote Arthur Schopenhauer...
As I stated before, there are those who stipulate that animals are without consciousness. That, just as a clock is made of machinery and nothing more, that animals are but material without a single ability of emotion. Any person who has had the chance to see a dog or any other domestic animal will understand that this is flatly false. Animals exhibit such an exuberant response to human stimulus. They are not, as some philosophers have asserted, without consciousness, or without feeling. They are fully capable of these emotions, and it is for this reason of sentience -- of the ability to suffer -- that animals are entirely deserving of equal consideration of their rights. To quote John William Draper...
So it was believed by Descartes that animals were not conscious beings. But, to further his position, he also believed that African humans were incapable of consciousness, and that they had no souls. By the same philosophy that men may take and enslave other men, it also allows men to take and slaughter other animals! The philosophers of brutality and inhumanity have made their stake in history: it was through their philosophy that men were made slaves and animals were made food. It was based on the reasoning of these mentally inept philosophers that animals were afforded no pity, that life for many became miserable, that humanity was not a virtue. It has been proven many times through the science of biologists that animals are indeed conscious beings and that they can feel as much as humans can. To quote Charles Darwin...
Charles Darwin even noted what signs can be found when an animal suffers. Through his scientific texts, he has provided a sound and logical explanation as to what suffering does to an animal, to what the brutalities of mankind have wrought upon this pitiless group....
So, it is true as that animals can suffer and do fully express their suffering. De Quincey best expressed the sentiment held by Humanitarians: "...the groans and screams of this poor persecuted race, if gathered into some great echoing hall of horrors, would melt the heart of the stoniest of our race." [Written concerning the brutality given to animalia. Quoted from Animals' Rights Considered In Relation To Social Progress, by Henry S. Salt, chapter 2, 1894.] There are some who further insist that although animals may be conscious, that they are not moral; that for some reason, they are without moral sentiments. Whether or not this is true, it is no reason at all to deny the lower animals rights. A human infant may be without moral sentiments. Would any humane person then render it to unavailing suffering and torture? Because a young child is incapable of knowing right from wrong, does that mean that beating the child senselessly is an option of good consideration? Not only is the claim that animals are not moral irrelevant, but it is also false. Again, to quote Charles Darwin...
It is then obvious, without a doubt, that animals are conscious beings. They can think and feel as any human being can. If humans are to be given rights on account of their sufferings, on account of the fact that we may all feel the same pains and desires, then it is also true that we should grant the same rights to non-human animals. That, in essence, we should become Vegetarians. In a society that gives few rights to animals, the most important right for a humane thinker to emphasize is the right to life; it is an intrinsic component of what is called humaneness. If we consume the flesh of our fellow creatures, then we are doing nothing but confirming that vice and brutality will reign in civilization for thousands of years to come. If we look forward, it is undeniable the coming to humaneness. Yet, if we look back, if you admit that we will not grant animals a single right, if kill them to please our tongues, then we are nothing but barbarians; without remorse for conscious life and without a slight affection for them. I end this section with a quote by Henry Stephens Salt...
Objections Raised Against Vegetarianism Refuted
There are many arguments brought against Vegetarianism. Some believe that, for some reason or another, it is justified to kill animals for the sake of consuming them. It is in this section that I address those concerns. It is not necessarily in a vain attempt to excuse cruelty through reasoning -- many of these inquiries are naturally inquisitive concerns with the logic of Vegetarianism. Just as an individual should be free to question any of the existing institutions, an individual should be free to question Vegetarianism. It is when, however, a person is indignant or immune to logic that their reasons are no longer true reasons, but excuses to cover up cruelty. Now, to discuss the various objections against Vegetarianism.
The first and foremost objection brought up is the question of plant life. People will often assert that plants are alive, just as humans and animals, and therefore if we grant rights to animals, then we should grant rights to plants. The problem with this objection, however, is that I did not argue that animals deserve rights because they were alive. I argued that animals deserve rights because they can feel suffering and because they are conscious. This is the reason that they deserve to be treated with humaneness: they are conscious beings, fully capable of feeling pain and suffering, joy and desire, happiness and security -- they are things of emotion, just as any human. Then, however, someone may ask about the rights of animals that are not conscious, such as jellyfish. I have already made my philosophical stance: all conscious beings are deserving of rights. The question now, is a scientific one: what beings are conscious? Science, as far as I understand, has not found consciousness in the jellyfish, and it does not have a brain, so there is little reason to expect that it has a consciousness. Another may ask if it would be acceptable to breed a species of cows without brains, so that they cannot feel or suffer -- so that they are not conscious. I would also have no problem with such a scenario, as such an animal is not capable of suffering. Plants are not conscious, whereas the majority of animals are. So, as human beings, we have an option: there is a choice in what we consume.
Another objection that is commonly brought up is how animals consume each other. It is argued that, since animals eat each other, then humans can eat animals. The fallacy of this argument is simple: just because someone else does something does not justify that you do it. If an animal was known to cannibalize, would it justify humans cannibalizing each other? If an animal was known to engage in rape or theft, would it justify humans engaging in similar activities? We can even go beyond this hypothetically looking at other animals -- let's look at humans, a prime example of animals. If I see a man steal, does that give me a warrant to steal? If I see a man murder, does that give me a warrant to murder? Humans are animals all the same. Therefore, if one can base their morality on the ethics of others, then it is completely justified for someone to base their morality on that of a rapist or a murderer. The principle can easily be seen in all of the examples that I drew from: imitation is not a solid foundation for moral behavior. The question may then be brought up: "Are lions and tigers then immoral?" I can answer that they are not immoral. A predator in the wild must kill to survive; it has no option to cultivate the land, nor no know-how, nor the appendages to do so. Predators are also an intrinsic component in a natural balance in the wild. If they were to be eradicated, the prey would overpopulate and starve. One may then ask if it were acceptable for a human to kill in the wild if absolutely necessary, and I can also respond that such a behavior would be entirely acceptable. However, in our present state of society, we do not need to consume animals to live. In fact, many health and scientific studies confirm that a Vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet. On a final question brought up, as I mentioned before, some may say that humans are an intrinsic part in the natural balance in the wild when we consume animals. However, this is simply not true, as cattle and chickens are bred to be slaughtered -- they do not roam in the wild. They are reared to be killed. To quote Humphry Primatt...
,p>"For us to infer that men may be cruel to brutes in general, because some brutes are naturally fierce and bloodthirsty, is tantamount to saying, Cruelty in Britain is no sin, because there will be wild tigers in India. But is their ferocity and brutality to be the standard and pattern of our humanity? And because they have no compassion, are we to have no compassion? Because they have little or no reason, are we to have no reason? Or are we to become as very brutes as they? However, we need not go as far as India; for even in England dogs will worry and cocks will fight (though not so often, if we did not set them on, and prepare them for the battle). Yet what is that to us? Are we dogs? Are we fighting cocks? Are they to be our tutors and instructers, that we appeal to them for arguments to justify and palliate our inhumanity? No. Let tigers roar, let dogs worry, and cocks fight; but it is astonishing that men, who boast so much of the dignity of their nature, the superior excellence of their understanding, and the immortality of their souls (which, by-the-by, is a circumstance which cruel men above all others have the least reason to glory in), should disgrace their dignity and understanding by recurring to the practice of the low and confessedly irrational part of the creation in vindication of their own conduct." [A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals. By Humphry Primatt, D.D. London, 1776. Quoted in Animals' Rights Considered In Relation To Social Progress, by Henry S. Salt, chapter 8, 1894.]
A rather popular objection against Vegetarianism is simply this: meat tastes good. However, as I have demonstrated in my justification for Vegetarianism, the plea for rights for animals comes from the fact that they are conscious beings, capable of feeling suffering. Nowhere in my justification did I make this plea on grounds of self-benefiting attributes. I did not mention the health benefits, of the increased longevity, of the land freed up from grazing that could be used for other things, of the resources saved -- I made the argument that animals were conscious beings and, as such, they deserve rights and consideration. In a very true and sincere sense, they are equal and deserving of affection, as every human is. To make the plea that meat tastes good is absurd. One may justify rape on the same token, by stating that an orgasm justifies their actions. It's ridiculous to even bring up such an argument.
One may focus their argument around the natural Cycle of Life, or they may point to Natural Selection. In such instances, it is important to make one note: the Cycle of Life and Natural Selection are scientific observations, not moral foundations. Therefore, to conclude that it is only "natural" for men to kill other animals and consume them is irrelevant. What is natural is subjective, as it varies from person to person. It may seem wholly unnatural that men should build great civilizations and construct buildings. One may point out that it was only natural that men should have advanced such great lengths to the point where we use tools to construct buildings. However, if this is true, then is it not also natural that man should advance so much that their moral and reasoning faculties also advance, that man can decide it is immoral -- that is, to say, causing unnecessary suffering -- to kill and consume our fellow creatures? Also, what is natural to one person may be rape or murder -- does that fact that anything is "natural" justify it in any way? As I have pointed out, to simply state that something is natural, or to justify eating meat because of the Cycle of Life or Natural Selection, is ridiculous. Such claims are based on scientific observations -- not moral arguments, and therefore unless something more specific can be concluded, such an argument is nullified.
Although there is not much evidence to support such a claim, people enjoy making the argument that humans must kill animals on the grounds that animals would overrun the world if we did not. They believe, or claim to believe, that if humans stopped eating beef and poultry, that soon cows and chickens would take control of the world. Such an argument is based on the premise that there is a steady growing population of such creatures. The premise is factually incorrect. The only reason why there are so many cows and chickens alive on this planet right now is due to the fact that humans breed them. If humans did not breed so many animals, then there would be no such "overrunning of Earth with domesticated animals." The primary source of farm animals is from humans breeding them. If humans realize the folly of killing animals for the sake of killing them -- if humans realize the downright brutality of slaughtering another for the taste of their flesh -- then animals would not be bred in such large quantities. A poem by Henry Stephens Salt was written on this. To quote it...
Another argument often called upon to justify the mass slaughtering of animals is that animals are not as smart as humans, and therefore undeserving of equal rights. This can be simplified, however, to: "Since animals have fewer brain cells, since they are unknowing of as many facts, since they are ignorant of modern science, their sufferings are worth less, and their emotions deserve not the slightest care." In the Justification for Vegetarianism, I made the claim that all animals were deserving of rights. Whether someone was white or black, tall or short, male or female, human or non-human, heterosexual or homosexual -- all conscious beings are must be given some sort of recognition of their rights; all animals deserve to be treated warmly and with respect to their rights. The net of compassion can be widened, though, to include those who are either smart or dumb. As I argued before, it is because a being is capable of suffering that it is granted rights. To argue that intelligence should be a factor when deciding rights is as foolish as arguing that race or species or gender should be aspects when arguing for rights. Even beyond the general fallacy of arguing that intelligence is important when concerning morality, the application of such a theory would be amazing. After all, there are smart humans and dumb humans -- should the dumb humans bow their heads in respect to the smart ones? Should their skin be the carpet beneath boots? Should their life hold no meaning, save to appease the smart humans? Should their existence be defined thusly: to be abused and used, without regard or remorse? No humane mind could answer yes to any such question. As I have stated before, equality is not based on any fickle trait of skin color, or quantity of legs, or race, or species, or gender, and certainly not intelligence.
Another argument brought up is an inquiry into the design of the human body. Human teeth are well fit to tearing flesh -- this is practically a scientific truth. It is argued that, because teeth are well fit to this (or "designed"), that they are justified in being used in consuming flesh. However, it is not so much the consumption of meat that is bothersome in concern to the rights of animals -- it is what happens for the consumption of meat to take place. For one to consume meat, a creature -- a conscious being that can feel like any human can feel -- is slaughtered. Their life is ended, only for the sake of the small pleasures of another. (I swear that, if the tears of children produced a drink that excited the tongue, that the most brutal of men would set up factories that abused and tortured children to make drinks and sell them.) Furthermore, whether or not our teeth are well fit to eating meat is irrelevant. A gun is well-fit do taking a human life -- does that justify its usage? A knife can take a life and a bomb can take many lives. Just because a tool is capable of such destruction, does that truly warrant its usage? Absolutely not. Similarly, just because teeth are designed to consume flesh does not warrant their use. And, even if it was warranted, it would justify cannibalism, as human teeth are indiscriminating, and humans would be equal fodder for humans. Therefore, to infer that animals deserve no rights on account of the apparent design of human teeth is a fallacy, as design does not warrant usage and such a hypothesis has yet to be proven.
The question of nutrition is often brought up. In particular, people will often assert that protein is needed and can only be attained through eating meat. First, I will answer such an argument philosophically, and then I will answer it scientifically. The question of nutrition may indeed be an important one, but if we can sacrifice a small part of our health so that we can prevent a significant amount of suffering around the world, then it is absolutely true that a part of our health should be sacrificed. It estimated that ten billion animals are slaughtered every year -- and can anyone contemplate how this is in any relevance to our health, to keep alive only several hundred million people? It is tantamount to saying that for every human, every year, one thousand animals must be slaughtered -- to keep that one human superbly healthy. Can anyone truly attest to such a doctrine?
Secondly, although such an argument fails miserably philosophically, it is also incorrect and has been proven incorrect by countless scientific studies. It takes 21 pounds of protein to feed to a calf to produce a single pound of animal protein for humans. This is less than 5 percent! Frances Moore Lappé refers to it as "a protein factory in reverse!" [*1] Most estimates conclude that plant foods yield about 10 times as much protein per acre as meat does, and the ratio sometimes goes as high as plant foods yielding 20 times more protein per acre than meat! [*2] The protein intake of the average American excretes the generous level recommended by the National Academy of Sciences by 45 percent. Other estimates say that most Americans consume between two and four times as much meat as the body can use. Excess protein cannot be stored. Some of it is excreted, and some may be converted by the body to carbohydrate, which is an expensive way to increase one's carbohydrate intake. [*3] If a person eats just wheat, rice, and/or potatoes, the only way they will not get enough protein is if they are starving. [*4] An acre of oats or broccoli produces at least six times more proteins than a field that used animal feed to produce pork, milk, poultry, or beef. The acre of broccoli yields nearly three times as much as pork. Oats produce nearly 25 times as many calories as beef. An acre of broccoli produces 24 times the amount of iron produced by an acre used for beef and an acre of oats produces 16 times the amount of iron as an acre for beef. And an acre used for broccoli produces 5 times more calcium than an acre of land used for milk cows. [*5]
In 1974, Lester Brown of the Overseas Development Council estimated that if Americans were to reduce their meat consumption by only 10 percent for one year, it would free at least 12 million tons of grain for human consumption -- enough to feed 60 million people. Don Paarlberg, a former U.S. assistant secretary of agriculture, has said that merely reducing the U.S. livestock population by half would make available enough food to make up the calorie deficit of the nonsocialist, underdevelepod nations nearly four times over. [*6] Alan Durning, a researcher at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington D.C., has calculated that one pound of steak from steers raised in feedlots costs five pounds of grain, 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 35 pounds of eroded topsoil. More than a third of North America is taken up with grazing, more than half of U.S. croplands are planted with livestock feed, and more than half of all water consumed in the United States goes to livestock. [*7] A pound of meat requires 50 times as much water as an equivalent of wheat. [*8] Newsweek has described the loss of water in feeding animals when it said, "The water that goes into a 1000 pound steer would float a destroyer." [*9] When meat is eaten, it sits heavily in our stomachs, blocking our digestive processes until, days later, we struggle to excrete it. [*10] Gandhi, Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, and George Bernard Shaw lead long, creative lives as Vegetarians. The inhabitants of the Vilcabamba valley in Ecuador live between 123 and 142; these people eat less than an ounce of meat a week. A study of all individuals that lived past 100 in Hungary found that they were largely vegetarian. [*11] Diets designed for health and longevity like the Pritikin plan and the McDougall plan are either largely or entirely vegetarian. [*12] The question may be brought up, however, in concern to Vegans and those who abstain wholly from animal products. To quote a book no nutrition, "[Only] A B12 supplement is needed for the strict Vegan." [Lifetime Fitness and Wellness: A Personal Choice, Second Edition, by Melvin H. Williams, Old Dominion University, Chapter 6, page 124.]
There is also strong evidence to support correlation between meat intake and disease. A 16-year study of 6000 vegetarians and 5000 non-vegetarians in the UK found that the vegetarians generally had lower LDL cholesterol levels and lower death rates for each of the mortality endpoints studied. [*13] The many health-related effects of vegetarian diets are reviewed, such as the cholesterol-lowering effects, the decreased risk for coronary heart disease, the improvement of the condition of heart patients, and the decreased risk of colon and breast cancers. [*14] Evidence strongly suggests that a high intake of plant-based foods, and a low intake of animal products contributes to the excellent health of Mediterranean populations. The high consumption of red meat in Western diets is associated with increased risks of heart disease, some cancers, and urinary calcium losses likely to contribute to osteoporosis. [*15] The results of two, fat-modified diets, a lactoovovegetarian one rich in plant-based foods, and another in which 60% of the plant protein was replaced with protein from lean meat, were compared. While both diets lowered cholesterol and blood pressure relative to a high-fat diet, the vegetarian diet had a significantly greater cholesterol-lowering effect than the prudent non-vegetarian diet. [*16] The dietary habits of 19,752 Norwegian women and 20,035 Norwegian men were followed for an average of 11.4 years. An elevated risk of fracture was found in women with a high intake of protein from nondairy animal sources (meat, fish, and eggs) when calcium intake was low. [*17] A 12-year study of 85,900 women indicated that the consumption of animal protein was associated with an increased risk of fracture. In contrast, no such association was found for the consumption of vegetable protein. [*18]
[More on the health of Vegetarianism.] A study of 1600 lactoovovegetarian and non-vegetarian post-menopausal women confirms the theory that the amount and type of protein consumed affects bone mineral loss after menopause. By 80 years of age, the non-vegetarians had approximately twice the reduction of bone mineral density compared to the vegetarians. [*19] A study of 220 gastric cancer patients in Mexico city along with a control group from the same area indicated an approximately threefold increased risk of gastric cancer for frequent consumption of both fresh and processed meat. An increased risk of cancer was also found to be associated with frequent consumption of dairy products and fish. [*20] A six-year study of 32,051 members of the Adventist Health Study identified both red meat and white meat consumption as important dietary risk factors for colon cancer. [*21] Carcinogenic chemicals known as heterocyclic amines are produced when meat and fish are cooked under normal conditions. An evaluation indicates that the consumption of meat and fish products contributes to human cancer risk. [*22] The dietary habits of 51529 men, age 40 to 75, were examined to understand the relationship between prostate cancer and dietary fat. There was a clear correlation between an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and the intake of animal fat, but not vegetable fat. [*23] The physical condition and diets of nearly 11,000 health-conscious men and women, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, were followed for an average of 13.3 years to investigate dietary determinants of ischemic heart disease. It was found that saturated animal fat and cholesterol are the primary contributors to ischemic heart disease. [*24] A study of 10896 individuals with a special interest in health foods revealed that death due to ischemic heart disease, over the 10 to 12 years followed, was significantly lower in the vegetarians than in the non-vegetarians. [*25]
[More on the health of Vegetarianism.] The connection between the meat-consumption habits of 25153 Seventh-day Adventists and fatal ischemic heart disease was assessed over a 20-year period. Meat consumption was positively associated with this disease in both the men and the women. Furthermore, meat consumption by the men between the ages of 45 and 64 gave them a threefold greater risk of the disease compared to vegetarian men of comparable age. [*26] A study conducted in two hospitals over a 12-year period involved replacing dairy fats by vegetable oils to evaluate the effects on mortality from coronary heart disease. A substantial reduction of deaths due to coronary heart disease resulted. [*27] Blood pressure and blood lipid levels were measured and compared for 3 groups of Seventh-day Adventist African-American adults, including vegetarians, "semi-vegetarians" (1 to 3 servings of meat per week), and non-vegetarians. The vegetarian group had the least cases of hypertension and the lowest serum cholesterol. [*28]
[More on the health of Vegetarianism.] There was an article in Discover magazine which criticized the health benefits of milk. ["Worrying About Milk" by Will Hively in Discover magazine (August 2000, Volume 21, Number 8).] Here are some of the things said: "The fact that fats in dairy products can contribute to hardening of the arteries and heart disease has long been common knowledge." [Page 46.] -- "The bottom line for Campbell [main scientist of article] is simple: 'It's unnatural to drink milk.' Most adults in Asia and Africa, along with many in southern Europe and Latin America, have trouble digesting lactose, the main sugar in the milk of both humans and cows." [Page 46.] -- "Campbell argues that the ultimate problem with cow's milk is that nature concocts different formulas of mother's milk for different species. What's good for baby calves isn't necessarily good for human babies or adults. 'Isn't it strange that we're the only species that suckles from another species?' he says. Campbell theorizes that cow's milk unnaturally stimulates enzymes and growth hormones in the human body that increase the risk of various diseases." [Page 46.] -- "But his [Campbell's] outlook [that milk was good] changed after he headed overseas in 1965 to serve for 10 years as coordinator of a U.S. AID project in the Philippines, where poverty-stricken children were dying mysteriously from liver cancer believed to be linked to malnutrition. For protein, children depended largely on peanuts, which in the tropics often contain relatively high amounts of aflatoxin, a carcinogen produced by mold growth. To his surprise, Campbell discovered during his tenure in the Philippines that the incidence of liver cancer was especially high among some of the best-nourished kids, whose diets were supplemented with powdered milk provided through a U.S.-subsidized program. He was completely baffled until he read about a 1968 research study conducted in India by Madhavan and Gopalan and published in the Archives of Pathology. The study linked milk protein to liver cancer in lab rats." [Page 46, 48.]
[More quotes from the article concerning the health of milk.] "...rats given a brief initial exposure to aflatoxin tended to develop liver cancer when fed casein, the main protein in milk." [Page 48.] -- "E. J. Hawrylewicz, a nutritional biochemist and research director at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, performed a somewhat similar series of experiments that revealed lab rats are more likely to develop breast cancer tumors when fed casein than when fed soy protein." [Page 48.] -- "Hawrylewicz agrees with Campbell that a good anticancer strategy is to choose a diet rich in plant rather than animal proteins." [Page 48.] -- "Epidemiological research adds a new line of evidence, and in this case it suggest a correlation between milk consumption and at least two kinds of cancer prevalent in Europe and North America: breast and prostate." [Page 48.] -- "In Asia, where many people drink no milk whatsoever, among women aged 35 to 64, Campbell found that breast cancer deaths averaged 8.7 per 100,000 as opposed to 44 per 100,000 in the United States.... A comparative study published in 1989 showed that even in Europe, two areas with higher milk consumption--Scandinavia and the Netherlands--also had higher breast cancer rates." [Page 48.] -- "In the Physicians' Health Study, researcher tracked 20,885 male doctors over 10 years. Those who consumed at least 2&1/2 servings of dairy food per day were 30 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than doctors who consumed less than half a serving. A 1999 study of nearly 50,000 subjects, called the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, had found that men who consumed a lot of dairy products had a 70 percent higher risk of prostate cancer. If they also took calcium supplements, their risk jumped dramatically: Those who consumed a total of more than 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day raised their risk of metastic prostate cancer more than fourfold." [Page 49.]
[Still more quotes from the article concerning the health of milk.] "In general, the Chinese eat a nearly vegetarian diet. Another pronounced difference between China and the West caught Campbell by surprise: the contrasting levels of osteoporosis. Most Chinese were getting their calcium from vegetables and fruits alone. Although they got less than half the calcium recommended by the USDA, their bones seemed healthy. Among women over 50, the hip facture rate appeared to be one fifth as high as in Western nations." [Page 49, 51.] -- "Although milk's calcium and other nutrients do promote bone growth, says Campbell, other substances in dairy foods and other animal products--certain proteins and especially sodium--actually leach some calcium from the bone. The Chinese were evidently getting sufficient calcium from dark green vegetables, legumes, and some fruits. And because those foods don't also promote calcium loss, the Chinese might not need to take in as much calcium overall." [Page 51.] -- "By the 1990s, nutrition researchers had fathered data from different parts of the world and found another surprising correlation: The more calcium people consumed, the more susceptible they seemed to be to hip fractures. People in those countries that consume the highest levels of dairy foods (North America and northern European nations) take in two or three times more calcium yet break two or three times more bones than people with the lowest calcium intake (Asians and Africans)." [Page 51.] -- "In 1997, results of a 12-year study of 78,000 nurses questioned the link between high calcium intake and strong bones. It found that the subjects who drank the most milk--two or more glasses per day--broke more bones than the others. They had a significantly higher risk of hip fracture." [Page 51.]
Divinity -- this is another argument brought against Vegetarianism. Some will claim that because religious scripture condones the killing of animals, it is acceptable. This is not to degrade the killing of animals to the status of humane or good; this is to say that religious scripture condones the killing of animals, therefore, it condones brutality, malice, and viciousness. This is not so much an argument against Vegetarianism as it is an argument against religion. For thousands of years, religions have been the comforting philosopher of every inhumanity. It has blessed the chains of the slave, it has denied women rights, it has exploited every group and still today denies rights to these groups. Religion has made itself the epitome of vice -- it is a thing destitute of any virtue, without a single merit, condoning numerous brutalities through the ages, and now, on its knees, it implores mankind to continue the slaughter of animals, for the sake that scripture allows it. Religion can be used to justify anything. Just as someone can claim that god told them that it was acceptable to eat meat, someone can claim that god told them that it was acceptable to rape or murder. Attesting to the divine authorship of a book that allows injustice would be of the most grave insults to any deity -- be there any. To quote Thomas Paine, "I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy." [The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine, part I, chapter 1.] The argument that it is acceptable to kill animals on religious foundations is flawed in several aspects, but primarily in this one: if one can claim god allows this one action, therefore it is justified, anyone can claim that god allows any action, and therefore it is justified. Also, religion has been the assistant to heartlessness for thousands of years.
One final argument brought against Vegetarianism is that Vegetarianism is not flawed in theory, but in practice. It is argued that although animals may certainly deserve rights, abstaining from eating meat will not bring Animal Liberation any closer. It may be argued, for instance, that the animal is already slaughtered when purchased, so there is no use in refusing to purchase meat. To understand why this argument falls short of reaching validity, one must understand the principle behind economical boycott. If a business engages in inhumane activities, be it the cruel treatment of its workers, or -- in this case -- the cruelty rendered to produced its product, then activists may boycott it. Once a boycott is in place, the business will start to do some things: make changes in the reasons why it is opposed. If enough people boycott a business, it will go out of business. And even if Vegetarianism does not make any particular factory farm go out of business in the short run, it will manage to cut down on the amount of abuse rendered to conscious animals. It may take one cow to feed six people for a month -- if those six people refuse to eat meat (or one person over six months), then the breeders will not breed the cow, and it will not have had to live its life of cruelty and fear. One may ask, then, that if it was acceptable to consume meat without supporting the meat industry, if such an action would be acceptable. I can find no moral qualms with such an action -- in fact, as technology develops, soon meat can be grown in a laboratory without producing a consciousness that is normally attached to it. One may then ask about other actions, such as sitting on leather couches and wearing leather products that are already owned. The answer is the same: their usage would most likely not result in the extended suffering of any animal. Although it is true that many Animal Liberationists would feel uncomfortable wearing the skin of something that was once conscious, it would only be immoral if such a product was purchased, thus advancing the industry bent on denying animals rights.
A Final Word
Vegetarianism, the confirming action that all animals are deserving of consideration, will flow through the minds and hearts of every humane person, as long as the bird of life has its feathers. In the society where a sympathetic heart flourishes, where an objective mind grows, there will be Vegetarianism. To abstain from meat, to become a Vegetarian, is to acknowledge that there is a road leading to completeness. Vegetarianism is the light shining on benevolence. It is the spirit consumed by ultimate consciousness, alit by awareness. Vegetarianism is the ruling passion of humanity, the undying love affair with tenderness, the food that feeds our faculties of duty and care -- it is born of inspiration, lifted by beauty, and excited by compassion. It is the confirmation that our beliefs can truly reflect themselves in our actions.
*1. "Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappé (New York: Friends of the Earth/Ballatine, 1971), pp. 4-11. (Revised Edition published in 1982.) Original sources are "The World Food Problem," a Report of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1967); "Feed Situation," February 1970, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and "National and State Livestock-Feed Relationships," U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Statistical Bulletin Number 446, February 1970.
*2. Keith Akers "A Vegetarian Sourcebook" (New York: Putnam, 1983), chapter 10. Original sources are: United states Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics, 1979; United States Department of Agriculture, "Nutritive Value of American Foods" (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975); and C.W. Cook, "Use of Rangelands of Future Meat Production," Journal of Animal Science 45: 1476 (1977). The higher ratio is from "Soybeans," Scientific American, February 1974.
*3. Francis Moore Lappé, "Diet for a Small Planet," pp. 28-29; see also "The New York Times," October 25, 1974; "Medical World News," November 8, 1974, p. 106.
*4. In the first edition of "Diet for a Small Planet" (1971), Frances Moore Lappé emphasized protein complementarity to show that a vegetarian diet can provide enough protein. In the revised edition (New York: Ballantine, 1982) this emphasis has disappeared, replaced by a demonstration that a healthy vegetarian diet is bound to contain enough protein even without complementarity. For another account of the adequacy of plant foods as far as protein is concerned, see Keith Akers, "A Vegetarian Sourcebook," Chapter 2. Original Resources are United states Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics, 1979; United States Department of Agriculture, "Nutritive Value of American Foods" (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975).
*5. Keith Akers "A Vegetarian Sourcebook" (New York: Putnam, 1983), pp. 90-91. Original sources are: United states Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics, 1979; United States Department of Agriculture, "Nutritive Value of American Foods" (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975); and C.W. Cook, "Use of Rangelands of Future Meat Production," Journal of Animal Science 45: 1476 (1977). The higher ratio is from "Soybeans," Scientific American, February 1974.
*6. Boyce Rensberger, "Curb on U.S. Waste Urged to Help World's Hungry," The New York Times, October 25, 1974.
*7. Science News, March 5, 1988, p.153, citing Worldwatch, January/February 1988.
*8. Keith Akers, "A Vegetarian Source Book," p.100, based on D. Pimental and M. Pimental, "Food, Energy, and Society" (New York: Wiley, 1979), pp. 56, 59, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Nutritive Value of American Foods" (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office 1975).
*9. "The Browning of America," Newsweek, February 22, 1981, p. 26; quoted by John Robbins, "Diet for a New America" (Walpole, N.H.: Stillpoint, 1987), p. 367.
*10. In The Lancet (December 30, 1972), the "mean transit time" of food through the digestive systems of a sample group of nonvegetarians on a Western type of diet was between seventy-six and eighty-three hours; for vegetarians forty two hours. The authors suggest a connection between the length of time the stool remains in the colon and the incidence of cancer of the colon and related disease which have increased rapidly in nations whose consumption of meat has increased but are almost unknown among rural Africans who, like vegetarians, have a diet low in meat and high in roughage.
*11. David Davies, "A Shangri-La in Ecuador," New Scientist, February 1, 1973. On the basis of other studies, Ralph Nelson of the Mayo Medical School has suggested that a high protein intake causes us to "idle our metabolic engine at a faster rate" (Medical World News, November 8, 1974, p. 106). This could explain the correlation between longevity and little or no meat consumption.
*12. N. Pritikin and P. McGrady, "The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise" (New York: Bantam, 1980); J.J. McDougall, "The McDougall Plan" (Piscataway, N.J.: New Century, 1983).
*13. Appleby et al. 1999, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70, 525S.
*14. Segasothy & Phillips 1999, Q J Med, 92, 531.
*15. Kushi et al. 1995, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61, 1416S.
*16. Kestin et al. 1989, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 50, 280.
*17. Meyer et al. 1997, American Journal of Epidemiology, 145, 117.
*18. Feskanich et al. 1996, American Journal of Epidemiology, 143, 472.
*19. Marsh et al. 1988, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 48, 837.
*20. Ward & Lopez-Carrillo 1999, American Journal of Epidemiology, 149, 925.
*21. Singh & Fraser 1998, American Journal of Epidemiology, 148, 761.
*22. Layton et al. 1995, Carcinogenesis, 16, 39.
*23. Giovannucci et al. 1993, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 85, 1571.
*24. Mann et al. 1997, Heart, 78, 450.
*25. Burr & Butland 1988, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 48, 830.
*26. Snowdon et al. 1984, Preventive Medicine, 13(5), 490.
*27. Turpeinen 1979, Circulation, 59,1.
*28. Melby et al. 1994, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59, 103.