Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. A day of abstinence from meat and of fasting. I fasted, ate no meat, and went to church. It is not uncommon to give something up for Lent. This year I am giving up meat for Lent. Not just on Fridays of Lent and Ash Wednesday.

I really should give up meat entirely, not just during Lent. There are a lot of reasons for why I should give up meat. Here are some:

Health Reasons: Many diseases/conditions are more common for people who eat meat than vegetarians, diseases like Anemia, appendicitis, arthritis, diabetes, gall stones, high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, some types of cancer, and have more bad cholesterol. Vegetarians generally live longer than non-vegetarians. If I avoid eating meat I have much less chance of encountering mad cow disease and will get less hormones, drugs and other chemicals put into my body.

Environmental reasons: There are quite a few environmental reasons eating meat,at least factory farmed meat, is bad for the environment. Run off of animal waste pollutes local water reserves and rivers. Slaughterhouses are a place in which germs can spread. More nonrenewable resources are used up in raising the animals. Inefficient use of water (nearly half the US water supply) and grains (Large percentage of soy and corn is used to feed animals rather than people). Of course this is mainly a problem with factory farms and the type of farming done. If your eating some of the excess deer to limit the deer population or road kill (i.e. animals hit by cars) these environmental problems do not occur as much. Putting a stop to the environmental problems does not necessarily require people to stop eating meat.

Ethical reasons: When you eat meat you are killing an animal. Considering that I can get my proteins/vitamins/nutrients from plants instead of killing animals, it just seems cruel. Also many of the animals are treated excessively cruelly. Small pens, cutting off horns/beaks, excessive number of animals in to small a space, branding, etc.

Economic reasons: Vegetables and grains are cheaper than meat. Also other countries send grain to the US to feed animals instead of using it to feed the starving people of their own countries since there is more profit for them.

Labor reasons: People who work at meat factories are not treated fairly and often are illegal immigrants who get paid far too little.

The reason I haven't and probably won't become a full time vegetarian is mostly laziness. The country I live in eats more meat than any other country on the planet with the average person eating something like 273 pounds of meat per year. Many restaurants have very limited selection for vegetarians, so eating meat offers a much larger variety. Meat is added into things that have no real reason to add it such as chicken or beef broth added to otherwise vegetable soups or meat added to lasagna/pasta sauces. Sales at local pizza shops are generally for pepperoni pizza's instead of for a vegetarian topping or plain (several places have plain cheese pizza's cost more than pepperoni pizzas). It is much easier to eat meatless at home.

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