Vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat or fish. (Longman 5TH Edition) Vegetarianism can be divided into two main sub groups; Lacto-Vegetarianism, Veganism. Lacto-Vegetarianism is a diet without meat and fish whereas Veganism is the complete abstinence of animal foods, including dairy products and eggs.
The act of Vegetarianism is practiced in accordance to a person’s Religion, Health, and stance on Animal Rights or Simply because of Aesthetic reasons in today’s society. I believe Vegetarianism should be embraced more as it is in favor of not only Animal Rights but also Health Benefits.
Animal Rights seems like the first logical argument as Vegetarianism excludes the consumption of animals. The enforcement of vegetarianism for animal rights comes from activist as well as from a lot of religions. Animal Rights is more than just an idea. Both Human and Nonhuman objects of life have a basic moral right to respectful treatment (T.Reagan, 2004). The debate on Animal Rights has been an ongoing debate as Animals have become subject to numerous surgical manipulation as well as a source of food. The Animal Rights Activists associates Vegetarianism with showing respect to Animals and as a statement of protecting the lives of animals.
As stated in the Zoopolis: A political Theory of Animal rights, there should only be one acceptable relationship to animals; treating them ethically, which means leaving them alone. Animals are seen as the inferior counterpart to humans, they are seen as resources therefore their main purpose in life is to serve the human greed. Many would argue that the act of killing an animal in itself is an act of Utilitarianism, so their argument says that philosophically killing another mammal should be seen as right. That is on aspect of Philosophy, One school of thought, morally we are in the age of justice. In the Zoopolis, the author goes to say that all animals that are conscious or sentient beings should be viewed as subjects of justice and inviolable rights.
Inviolable meaning that all rights must be respected and not removed or ignored. (Cambridge dictionary). Therefore as humans are part of the animal system in terms of reference to being called Mammals, We all, animals included have the right to life and that right is inviolable. Thus Vegetarianism is practiced by many as one of its core principles is respecting the sanctity of an Animals life.
Religion too has its stance on animal rights and encouraging Vegetarianism. In Buddhism the threat of a bad rebirth is a major factor in motivating Buddhists to abstain from animal cruelty and Buddhist texts look unfavorably upon animal killing in any way (Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2014)
In Judaism vegetarianism is used for animal welfare. God intends a compassionate and caring attitude towards animals, our health and the health of the planet (Lantern Books, 2001). Showing us how religion in fact also uses vegetarianism as an act of moral good, always keeping in consideration our non-speaking counter parts on this planet.
Furthermore I believe Vegetarianism should be encouraged and followed is because of its benefits on our health. The argument against Vegetarianism has been the lack of meat based nutrients, the doubt of nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets however have been debunked in recent recommendations. A study found that people with diets emphasizing plant foods experienced much lower coronary disease mortality than non-vegetarians; Cholesterol is typically lower in vegetarians as is a lower risk of CHD (American Society for Nutrition, 2009)
The former prejudice that vegetarianism leads to malnutrition were replaced by scientific evidence showing Vegetarian nutrition reduces the risks of most contemporary diseases. The future of Vegetarian nutrition is promising because sustainable nutrition is crucial for the well-being of humankind. An increasing number of people do not want to see animals suffer nor do they want to see climate change (The American journal of clinical nutrition 100, 2014)
Various studies have concluded that vegetarian diets have a positive impact on life expectancy, and also lower the risks of disease mortality. The vegetarian diet does have benefits such as lowered disease vulnerability and also it has a positive impact on weight and body fat percentage.
Michael Allen Fox stated that meat eating is unhealthy and that the relation between high meat consumption and the increased risk of colon, breast and other cancers (Vegetarianism and planetary health, 2000). The processed and cured meat put forth by the meat industry has been tested and proven to contribute to the probability of colon cancer with an increased risk of +25%. (Meat science, 2011)
People argue that eating an animal is a human must. Describing humans as apex predators and using the slogan “we are on top of the food chain” and not eating animals disturbs the natural order of things. The comparison is made to lions and sharks, natural are predators, the difference between us and those animals is, they have no choice. We have a choice and are able to think for ourselves. Early Human food cultures were plant-based, the recorded history of Vegetarianism started in the sixth century (The American journal of clinical nutrition 100, 2014). Therefore as the records show that Vegetarianism is not a new phenomenon, Do we not owe it to ourselves to consider how people way back in history had the sense to reason in favor of health and animal compassion and how our values on these matters have dropped to a predator vs prey mindset.
Furthermore an argument presented is that Vegetarianism impacts the environment negatively. This is a counter argument to why Vegetarianism is good; people believe that Vegetarians are harming the environment by eating plant-based nutrition.
Food production differed amongst vegetarians and non-vegetarians in a study. Non vegetarian diets required 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer and 1.4 times more pesticides than the vegetarian diet. The non-vegetarian diet exacts a higher cost on the environment relative to a vegetarian diet. From an environmental perspective what a
person chooses to eat makes a difference (The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, volume 89, 2009)
Vegetarianism is not only a health based response, or an animal protection response. It is also an environment based response. As stated in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition, more and more people do not want to see climate change. The vegetarian diet in contrary to popular belief of how to takes away from the environment, actually benefits the environment way more than a non-vegetarian diet does.
The common knowledge is that our oil crisis is worsened by the meat industry, for the production of animal foods. The meat industry destroys biodiversity, diminishing important ecosystems in the process.
The meat industry contributes significantly to global warming. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is released by bacteria in the rumens of cattle and in the manure of many farm animals. Furthermore, forests and grasslands that would absorb high amounts of carbon dioxide are cleared to make farmlands. To make matters worse the fires used to burn down these forests release high amounts of carbon dioxide (The environmental benefits of vegetarianism, 2006)
Another problem in the environment is in the fishing industry, the industry has been reported to fish many species’ of fish faster than they populate. 15 of the 17 major ocean fisheries are exhausted and overexploited, so many marine webs are depleted and ocean ecosystems are seriously damaged. (The environmental benefits of vegetarianism, 2006)
The environment does suffer significantly in the hands of non-vegetarian industries. They exhaust the environment significantly. The whole debate centered on Vegetarians depleting plants seems minute to the actual proof of how Non-vegetarian demands exhaust and destroy the environment and ecosystems. Meat eaters require four times more land to farm than Vegetarians do.
A study shows that the meat industry is wasteful of natural resources. An Inherent problem with eating meat is that an animal must be fed roughly ten pounds of plants to produce one pound of meat. (The environmental benefits of vegetarianism, 2006)
In conclusion I believe that vegetarian diets should be followed and encouraged as they encourage animal friendly practices in contrast to meat eating diets. They promote healthy lifestyles and have health benefits. The vegetarian diet also encourages a healthy environment as more plant based farms can go a long way in benefiting the environment and sustaining wildlife.
I do believe that Vegetarianism is the right way to go for many reasons not only do major religions support it but it has its heart in the right place in maintaining our life, the life of animals and the environment.
- The environmental benefits of Vegetarianism By Gabe Bronk and Arthur Su, July 5, 2006
- Vegetarian diets and what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases, American Society for Nutrition, Gary E. Fraser, 2009
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, 2009
- Vegetarian Nutrition , American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Claus Leitzmann, 2014
- Judaism and Vegetarianism, Latern Books, Richard H. Schwartz, 2001
- Vegetarianism and animal ethics in Contemporary Buddhism, Routledge, James Stewart, 2015
- Journal of Buddhist ethics 21, JJ Stewart, 2014.
- Zoopolis: A political theory of Animal Rights By Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka 2011
- The case for Animal Rights By Tom Reagan 2004
- Ethics and the environment: Vegetarianism and planetary health By Michael Allen Fox, 2000
- Meat science Volume 89, Issue; Red meat and colon cancer; should we become vegetarians, or can we make meat safer By Denise E. Corpet, 2011