There are so many compelling reasons to be vegetarian or vegan that I think the question really is ‘why would anyone not be'? The underlying reason for me personally is that I do not feel that it is right to take another creature’s life just so that I can have a meal, when there are so many nourishing and delicious foods available. I believe that all creatures have a right to life and I have felt this way for as long as I can remember.
But there are many practical reasons too. Study after study has found that vegetarians and vegans can expect better health, with a lower incidence of heart and arterial problems, diabetes and some forms of cancer, and that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from obesity. So, being vegetarian or vegan is undoubtedly better for our health.
That it’s better for the animals too is undeniable. However kindly animals are bred they still have to face slaughter at the end of their very brief lives, usually terrified and often not properly stunned. If this leads you to wonder what would happen to all the animals if everyone went vegetarian or vegan see my FAQ page; it’s not a problem.
It’s is also better for the world. In fact, if everyone were to go vegetarian or vegan tomorrow, we could reduce our carbon output to such an extent that global warming would no longer be a threat. That’s because of all the methane gas produced by the animals; methane is a much more potent gas than carbon. The methane produced by animals accounts for 18% of greenhouse gases.
And it’s not only the methane, but the whole process of rearing animals for meat increases our carbon output: fertilizers and other chemicals needed to grow the feedstuff for the animals; heat to process it; fuel to transport it; heat and power needed to rear the animals, kill and transport them… it’s all incredibly costly in terms of carbon.
The sad thing is that after all that, pound for pound, for all the protein that you feed the animals, you only get a small proportion back as food for humans: about a tenth in terms of beef, a bit more with pigs, sheep and hens. How can anyone tolerate this, in a world that’s short of food, with millions of people starving?
People talk about needing two or three more planets in order to feed everyone on this planet, but if the whole world were vegetarian, and governments could get the distributions systems working fairly and sensibly, there would be more than enough to feed our present population, and more. And it’s the same story with that other precious commodity, water.
So the reasons for going vegetarian are there and unless my dearest wish were to be granted – that the whole world would come to their senses and go vegetarian or vegan overnight – they will become more and more pressing. I believe it’s probably the most important key to our survival on this planet.
Having said that, I know that going vegetarian is a very personal decision. But it doesn’t have to be a difficult process, as I’ve explained in How to go vegetarian – painlessly! It’s a wonderful life: come on in.