October 1 has been designated as World Vegetarian Day, and October 2 (the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi) has been designated as World Farm Animals Day. These are excellent times to review the many important reasons for switching to a vegetarian diet:
- Concerned about health? Flesh-based diets have been strongly linked to many degenerative diseases, including heart problems, strokes, and various types of cancer.
- 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).
- 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 emotional stimulation.
- 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, and the rapid destruction of tropical rain forests and other ecosystems.
- 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 the world's largest importer of beef and fish, and these imports are generally from countries where people are starving.
- Concerned about resource scarcities? A meat-based diet requires up to 20 times more land and 14 times more water and energy than a vegetarian diet. Non-vegetarian diets also require vast amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and other resources.
- Concerned about peace? Flesh-centered diets, by wasting land and other valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that frequently lead to instability and war.
- Concerned about religious values? Vegetarian diets are most consistent with religious mandates to act with compassion toward animals, preserve human health, help hungry people, protect the environment, conserve resources, and pursue peace.
- Concerned about convenient, tasty meals? There are many delicious vegetarian dishes that don't involve extensive preparation or the fat, 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 is October 1, during "World Vegetarian Day" or October 2, "World Farm Animal Day."
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