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Day 16 - I found my soapbox

What are the benefits of going Vegan? Why am I suddenly so crazy about cutting animal products out of my diet? This is credible information that was derived from Six Arguments for a Greener Diet - Check it out!

Sustaining our Environment:
I care about the environment, I take the bus to work, I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I recycle recycle recycle, I even rinse out old peanut butter jars when I could easily throw them in the trash - yuck! I want to do what I can to make a difference, but sometimes it feels like I'm not ever doing enough.

Part of the whole Vegan kick was started because I found this as a way of caring for my environment. The more I read about Vegans, the more I must applaud myself! Farming animals consume absurd amounts of farmland both for raising the animals, and for producing their feed.

Most high quality meat in America is grain fed. By feeding grain to animals such as steer they fatten up much more quickly, producing the high fat content meat that Americans desire and a quicker growing animal for the farmer. This whole quick to market process is unnatural, and because of it our environment is suffering in many ways.

Fertilizer used to grow food for animals
1 pound: the amount of fertilizer needed to produce 3 pounds of cooked beef
8,500 square miles: the size of the “dead zone” created in the Gulf of Mexico by fertilizer runoff carried by the Mississippi from the upper Midwest

Manure & Carbon Dioxide
Funny but true, cows off put so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere its actually a pollutant. Manure also pollutes the air, the waterways, and the vegetables we put into our mouths.

3.3 trillion pounds: the amount of livestock manure produced annually
33 million: the number of cars needed to produce the same level of global warming as is caused by the methane gas emitted by livestock and their manure

5 tons: the soil lost annually to erosion on an average acre of cropland

4,500 gallons: the rain and irrigation water needed to produce a quarter-pound of raw beef

Less Animal Suffering:
I'm not a crazy animal lover who cries every time an animal dies. Humans have consumed meat for thousands of years, and animals provide that for us. What bothers me is the inhumane ways animals are treated when farmed in mass quantities. It is not natural for a newborn cow to never see its mother, for a pig to never see daylight until it is taken to be slaughtered, or for chickens to be raised in such tight quarters that their talons grow over the cage bars. Larger issues include animals not being stunned properly before slaughter to prevent damaging the meat, this oversight so often leaves the animals still alive while being skinned. Cows and chickens are castrated without any anesthetic, chickens have their beaks cut off which is incredibly painful, the list goes on. These are just the mild indecencies that these animals go through and surprisingly these are very accepted practices among meat farms.

A lot of people, myself included, have been proud of themselves for only eating chicken and fish and cutting out the red meat . Poultry farming is actually the least regulated of all factory farming - go figure. The feedlots are not regularly inspected, and many of the disgusting practices are considered part of the culture, and therefore accepted. Chickens live in overcrowded conditions with little to no light at times. Hens can be starved for up to 10 days to encourage them to lay more eggs, and male chicks at birth are simply thrown into bins to die because they are not needed. Did you know that U.S. farm animals are not legally protected as are laboratory animals?

The fishing industry has its own flaws. Billions of pounds of commercially useless fish, turtles, and other sea animals are unintentionally caught as “by catch” and discarded, already dead or dying. It is such a waste.

140 million: the number of cattle, pigs, and sheep slaughtered each year
An 8½-by-11-inch sheet of paper is 0.65 square feet—about 30 percent larger than the space a hen in the United States is now provided.

Is free range any better? Maybe - maybe not, it all comes down to regulation, can you trust the source?

Improving my Health:
Vegetarians and Vegans typically live 3 years longer than non veggie eaters. The argument could almost stop there. I want to live a long healthy life and the food that surrounds me at the grocery store, in a restaurant, and even on TV, does not support that ideal. The Standard American diet is simply not a healthy diet. Less than a quarter of all adults eat the recommended number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables—foods that reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Beyond the fat and cholesterol that comes from animals, antibiotics and hormones also come along with the territory. Because of animals' high grain diets, tight living quarters, and the farmers need for efficiency, animals are given these drugs. Pesticides used are “endocrine disruptors,” which may strengthen or weaken the action of natural hormones in animals and humans. These may affect many aspects of development, but especially sexual development. These are known to decrease sperm production in many animals, including humans. Have you ever wondered why so many young girls are hitting puberty at an earlier age? These hormones and antibiotics are not meant to be in our bodies.

63,000: the number of deaths from coronary heart disease caused annually by the
fat and cholesterol in meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs
Any kind of beef increases the risk of colon cancer.
Diabetes is twice as common in non-vegetarians as in vegetarians, with semi-vegetarians having an intermediate prevalence.
Prostate cancer is 54 percent and colon cancer is 88 percent more common in non-vegetarians

If this interests you I would highly recommend you read Six Arguments for a Greener Diet. The book has an awesome website where you can download the book for FREE, as well as use interactive tools to score your current diet and understand the food chain. This is a great place to start thinking about the impact of your diet.

If you're concerned about animal welfare the simplest thing you could do is eat less (or even cut out) meat and other animal products. That would reduce the number of farm animals and the potential for mistreatment. Consumers also could choose meat and dairy products made from more humanely raised animals (see or


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