On March 20, 1997, the first day of spring, the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) sponsored its 13th annual "Great American Meatout". Patterned on the American Cancer Society's annual "Great American Smokeout", there were educational events throughout the United States that educated people about the benefits of vegetarian diets. Many Americans signed the "Meatout Pledge" promising to "kick the meat habit", at least on the day of the Meatout, and to "explore a less violent diet." Hence, this is a very good time to consider the many important reasons for switching to a vegetarian diet:
1. Concerned about health? Animal-based diets have been strongly linked to many degenerative diseases, including heart problems,strokes, and various types of cancer.
2. Concerned about tremendous annual national budget deficits and high taxes? Medical expenditures have soared from $80 billion in 1970 (6% of U. S. GNP) to an estimated $1.06 trillion in 1994 (14% of GNP) and is projected to be $1.7 trillion by the end of the century (18% of GNP).
3. Concerned about animals? Over 9 billion farm animals are killed for their flesh annually in the United States after suffering horribly in confined spaces where they are denied fresh air, exercise, or any satisfaction of natural instincts.
4. Concerned about the environment? The production of animal products is a major contributor to soil depletion and erosion, extensive pesticide use, air and water pollution, the rapid destruction of tropical rain forests and other ecosystems, and potential global warming.
5. Concerned about world hunger? Over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while 20 million people die annually due to hunger and its effects. The U. S. is also one of the world's largest importers of beef and fish, and these imports are generally from countries where people are starving.
6. Concerned about resource scarcities? A meat-based diet requires upto 20 times more land and 14 times more water and energy than avegetarian diet. Non-vegetarian diets also require vast amounts ofpesticides, chemical fertilizer, and other resources.
7. Concerned about peace? Flesh-centered diets, by wasting land andother valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hungerand poverty that frequently lead to instability and war.
8. Concerned about religious values? Vegetarian diets are mostconsistent with religious mandates to act with compassion towardanimals, preserve human health, help hungry people, protect theenvironment, conserve resources, and pursue peace.
9. Concerned about convenient, tasty meals? There are many deliciousvegetarian dishes that don't involve extensive preparation or thefat, cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics associated with meat.
So, for our health, for defenseless animals, for millions of starving people, for our earth and its resources, and for a more peaceful, just, and harmonious world, let's go vegetarian! And a great time to start was March 20, 1997, the day of the "Great American Meatout."
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