Philosophy   > Vegetarianism: A Corollary of Animal Rights


ISAR (International Society for Animal Rights) 1-717-586-2200


What is a vegetarian? A vegetarian is a person who abstains from consuming animal flesh, including that from mammals, fish and fowl. Some vegetarians choose to follow a vegan diet. Vegans avoid all foods and products derived by harming animals, including meat, eggs, dairy, leather and wool.


Ethical, Health and Ecological Reasons for Vegetarianism


Ethical Concerns


Americans consume more than nine billion animals each year. The suffering, abuse and slaying of these innocent animals raises serious ethical concerns for many people. What gives humans the right to raise animals for the sole purpose of killing them and then dining on their carcasses?


The vast majority of food animals are raised in deplorable and overcrowded conditions on factory farms where they suffer from routine abuse and neglect.


Health Reasons


There are many health reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet, perhaps most important is the estimate that approximately 60% of all deaths in the United States can be attributed to a meat-based diet. Consumption of animal products increases a person's likelihood of developing many illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, kidney diseases, and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. The American Medical Association states, "a vegetarian diet can prevent 90-97% of heart disease." A vegetarian male has only 4% chance of suffering a heart attack, compared to the average American male's risk of 50%.


Another health consideration stems from the farmer's widespread use of chemicals in the animals' feed. Farm animals consume vast amounts of hormones, artificial colors and other chemical additives. More than half of all antibiotics in the United States are administered to farm animals to stimulate growth and combat the diseases naturally occurring from living in substandard conditions. These chemicals are then passed on to consumers.


People who eat animal products are also at increased risk for food poisoning. Incredibly, guidelines established by the USDA last year, permit salmonella contamination of 49.9% of ground turkey and 44.6% of ground chicken. The USDA found these criteria reflect the national average found in meat processing plants.


Ecological Effects


The ecological effects of a meat-based diet are far-reaching. Meat production causes environmental destruction, extensive pollution and devastation of natural resources.


The alarming disappearance of America's forests is often over attributed to urban expansion. For each acre cleared for highways and shopping centers, seven acres are destroyed to provide land for livestock production. Additionally, more than 30 acres of tropical rainforest are destroyed every minute for the specific purpose of grazing cattle, contributing to the extinction of 1,000 rainforest species each year. Current farming methods have resulted in a loss of more than 75% of America's topsoil.


Farm animals produce more than 20 billion tons of waste each day. This waste, along with the diseased bodies of dead animals and an array of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are released into the environment every day, polluting our land, air and water. Not surprisingly, the livestock industry is the principle cause of water pollution and accounts for half of all water used in the United States. Factory farming's inefficient use of natural resources also contributes to world hunger. The amount of grain it takes to raise meat for just one person could provide enough food for 12 people.


The inhumane and unhealthy consequences of eating meat are entirely avoidable.


Vegetarianism -- a corollary of animal rights -- is a choice one can make to help prevent animal suffering. By adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, one can amply meet all nutritional needs while affording him or herself the comfort of knowing that no animals suffered to provide the meal. For more information, please request ISAR's "Vegetarianism" fact sheet.


We encourage our supporters to purchase one of the many fine vegetarian cookbooks available and adopt healthy, humane, and responsible eating habits.


ISAR offers the following cookbooks available for purchase: #041 The Cookbook For People Who Love Animals PB 192PG $9.95; #141 Food For The Spirit HC 120PG $9.95; #267 The Compassionate Cook PB 244PG $8.99; #276 Eat More Weigh Less PB 425PG $14,00; #294 Famous Vegetarians' Recipes PB 267PG $14.95.


Factory Farming: A Violation of Animal Rights


The information which follows will be sickening to those like we at ISAR who believe that animals have rights and thus must not be exploited for human ends. We present it here in the hope that the raw facts of factory farming will cause some readers to forego eating animals "produced" in that manner.


The vast majority of animals killed for food were raised on "factory farms." Factory farming derives its name from the intensive, production-line nature of raising billions of animals at the lowest possible cost. The conditions are overcrowded and filthy. Denied the privilege of breathing fresh air, these animals with an acute sense of smell must endure the ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulfide produced by their waste while the farmers who enter the buildings wear respirators. The overcrowded and filthy conditions lead to stress behavior and disease. Abuse and neglect are routine.


CHICKENS Farmers burn off the beaks of chickens to prevent them from pecking one another, a reaction to their extreme confinement. Their faces are often burned in the process. As many as five egg-laying chickens are crammed into a single "battery cage" measuring only one square foot. At egg production facilities, newborn male chicks are discarded into plastic garbage bags. Most suffocate before they are later ground up for chicken feed and fertilizer.


PIGS Female pigs, called sows, are bred constantly. They must be strapped to the floor of their cages during birth and while nursing to prevent them from crushing their piglets in the tiny enclosure. Young pigs are raised in warehouses until ready for slaughter. Their tails are cut off to prevent "tail-biting," a stress behavior exhibited due to the overcrowding.


BEEF CATTLE Beef cattle suffer from abusive handling in cramped feedlots. Their horns are removed to prevent damage to other cattle that could stem from the overcrowded conditions. This, as well as male castration, is performed without anesthetic.


MILK COWS Milk cows are kept almost constantly pregnant; the natural bond between mother and baby is shattered at birth so humans may drink the milk intended for calves. Female calves are raised for milking while males are generally sold for veal. Milk cows are slaughtered for human consumption when their milk production drops, usually after four or five years.


VEAL CALVES Veal calves' brief lives are especially tragic. For four months they are confined to stalls only two feet wide and are fed only a liquid diet. They receive no water or bedding. They live in almost complete darkness to discourage movement which would develop muscle and toughen their flesh.




En route to auctions and slaughterhouses, animals are subjected to overcrowding, thirst, hunger and temperature extremes. They are denied food and water during transport, which sometimes takes several days. Many die from heat exhaustion in the summer and freeze to sides of trucks in the winter.


Following transport, exhausted and frightened animals are hit, kicked and shocked with electric prods (to unload from trucks). The immobile and dead are dragged, sometimes by tractors, to "dead piles." Those surviving to the slaughterhouses are prodded through their terror into their final steps amidst the ominous odor of blood and the screams of those before them.


Some are rendered unconscious before they are suspended upside down and their throats are cut. Others are fully conscious for this process, as dictated by Kosher slaughter requirements.


Animals raised on factory farms suffer from birth to death.


"While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?" -- George Bernard Shaw