When you get involved in a discussion, where the vegetarian diet is an issue, these facts and figures will make it easier to present your case. They are based on an excellent book, "Diet for A New America," by John Robbins, founder of "Earth Save."
HE HUNGER: When so many people are dieing of starvation, what's wrong with eating surplus animals?
- There is no such thing as 'surplus animals.' All the animals killed in slaughterhouses are specifically bred, fed, and raised for their meats. The places where they are raised, are known as 'Factory Farms.'
- The animals in factory farms are treated like machines. Their only function is to convert grass, corn, etc. vegetarian items into meat. Since birth, until they are ready for slaughter, they are fed tremendous amounts of foods. For example, 16 Pounds of grain and soybeans are needed to produce one pound of edible beef. In other countries such as India, these animals would have been put into uses, such as ploughing and carrying loads. But in industrialized countries such as America, tractors and other machines do those jobs more efficiently and economically. The animals are merely fed, and grown big, as fast as possible, with help of chemicals, hormones, and steroids.
- Of all the corn grown in the U.S., only 20 percent is eaten by people. The other 80 percent of corn is fed to livestock. Thus, actually, 90 percent of protein is wasted by cycling grain through livestock. 56 percent of U.S. farmland is devoted exclusively for the production of beef alone.
- Now consider this: 20 million people worldwide will die as a result of malnutrition this year. If the Americans were to reduce their intake of meat by only 10 percent, 60 million people could be adequately fed using land freed up. Otherwise, a child will continue dieing as a result of malnutrition, every 2.3 seconds.
THE HUMAN HEALTH: Don't you appreciate the need of meat for good health?
- No, it's just an advertisement -- very successful by all standards -- by the meat industry. Actually, meat brings only bad health. Meat is linked directly with many diseases, including the two biggest killers, heart attack and cancer.
- In the U.S. alone, a heart attack kills one person every 25 seconds. The average U.S. man's risk of death from heart attack is 50 percent, whereas the risk of a man who eats no meat is only 15 percent. Taking it one step further, the risk of the average man in the U.S. who does not eat even dairy products or eggs, is merely 4 percent. The reason is very simple: Meat, dairy products and eggs all contain saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Similarly, consider these numbers for cancer. Among women, the risk of breast cancer increases 3.8 times for the women who eat meat daily compared to the ones who eats meat less than once a week. Among men, the risk of fatal prostate cancer increases 3.6 times for the men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily vs. those who eat them sparingly or not at all.
- Unfortunately, the doctors offer very little help in clearing these misunderstandings. It is very hard to believe, but the nutrition training received by an average physician in the U.S. during four years in medical school is measly 2.5 hours. Countless hard hours are spent in teaching him/her how to cure diseases and perform operations, but very little time is spent in teaching how to prevent them in the first place.
- Pharmaceutical industry has no interest in preventing diseases. They make money when they sell drugs. What money can they make, by educating prevention?
- There are some other serious issues also to be considered. All the animals used for food are fed many chemicals, including antibiotics, which pass to humans through consumption. 55 percent of all U.S. antibiotics are fed to livestock. When humans consume such foods, their capacity to infection resistance goes down. For example, there were only 13 percent of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960. By 1988, this percentage had increased to 91.
- As a result of these findings, the European Economic Community has already banned routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock. However, the U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries have continued with full and complete support to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock.
- Regarding pesticides, there is a common belief that the U.S. Department of Agriculture protects our health through meat inspection. However, the reality is that fewer than one out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues.
- Consider these numbers: (1) Leading source of pesticide residues in the U.S. diet: Meat - 55%. (2) Second leading source of pesticide residues in U.S. diet: Dairy Products - 23%. (3) On the other hand, total pesticide residues in U.S. diet supplied by Vegetables - 6%, Fruits - 4%, and Grains - 1%.
- Even the mother's milk, given to newborn infants, is affected. Let's take example of a toxin, DDT. 99 percent of typical U.S. mother's milk contains significant levels of DDT. However, only 8% of vegetarian mother's milk contains any significant levels of DDT.
- Similarly, contamination of breast milk, due to chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in animal products, found in meat-eating mothers vs. Vegetarian mothers, is 35 times higher.
- Athlete to win Ironman Triathlon more than twice, is Dave Scott (six time winner). His food choice was a vegetarian diet.
THE ETHICS: Don't you think, you are very fanatic and too religious?
- No, we are just trying to be realistic. Besides ethical considerations, it is also a question of survival, ecology, and wise use of natural resources.
- 500,000 animals are killed for meat every hour in the U.S. Three 700-plus pound pigs are confined to spaces as small as twin beds in a typical factory farm. Calves are never allowed to move a single step, so as to not develop muscle to keep their veal tender. These are atrocities, that we cannot simply ignore. Since the animals are helpless and cannot speak up for themselves, we have to.
- Think about this: The occupation with the highest turnover rate in U.S. is that of a slaughterhouse worker. Why? What could be the reason? What do they see? What do they go through? What do they experience?
- The original actor who played Ronald McDonald in McDonald's TV commercials, Jeff Juliano, has now become a vegetarian. What compelled him to do so?
- The largest meat eater that ever lived, Tyrannosaurus Rex, became extinct over 100,000,000 years ago. Why did they not survive for ever?
- Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming due to the greenhouse effect. 3 times more fossil fuels are needed to produce a meat-centered diet vs. a vegetarian diet.
- Topsoil depletion has been the principle historic cause of demise of great civilizations. Today, 75 percent of the U.S. topsoil is already lost. 85 percent of U.S. topsoil loss is directly related to livestock raising.
- 260 million acres of U.S. forest is cleared for cropland to produce the meat-centered diet. 55 square foot area of tropical rainforest is consumed for every quarter-pound of rainforest beef.
- The current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses is 1,000 species per year.
- 12,000 pounds of excrement is produced by the total U.S. human population every second, and treated by sewage systems. At the same time, 250,000 pounds of excrement is produced by the total U.S. livestock population every second, but there is no sewage system to treat it.
- Livestock production uses much more water than anybody can ever imagine. It uses more than half the amount of all water used for all purposes in the U.S. The amount of water used in the upkeeping of the average cow is sufficient to float a U.S. Naval destroyer! While 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of meat, only 25 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat.
- The world's known oil reserves would last only 13 years if every human ate a meat-centered diet. However, they would last 260 years, if human beings no longer ate meat.
- 33 percent of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) are consumed by U.S. towards the production of livestock. But only 2 percent of all raw materials consumed by the U.S. would be needed to produce a complete vegetarian diet.