Disclaimer: Most of the statistics I have used relate to the United States. Much the same problems exist in my own country (Australia) but I haven't managed to gather much decent data on the situation here. This works better for my purposes anyway, since is an American based site, so it's Americans I'm mostly preaching to. For clarity: Vegetarian- Person who eats no meat (including fish) Vegan- Person who eats/ uses no animal products, including eggs, dairy products, leather, wool etc. Moby is one of these. I admire vegans, but I would never go that far. I'm not entirely convinced by their arguments and besides, I like chocolate too much. I am not strictly speaking a vegetarian either, since I still occasionally eat seafood. I may give that up too eventually. I'll see how it goes.

I Don't Eat Meat- So sue me!

Last October I gave up eating meat. I have lapsed once or twice since them, eating a piece of steak at a family barbecue (ooh the smell.) but I'm only human. For a life-long carnivore cold turkey (or should it be cold tofu?) isn't always easy. All in all I feel pretty good about my decision, and I hope that I can stick to it. However, I have found when I tell people about my eating habits, unless they are vegetarians themselves, they tend to react with scorn. People make lame jokes, tell me vegetarians are 'pussies' (riight.). Often they seem to take my lifestyle as some kind of personal insult. Maybe because it's a little subversive, and makes them question their own values. I've never been entirely comfortable with the idea of innocent creatures being slaughtered just to please me, but it wasn't concern for animal welfare that made me want to give up meat, but rather concern for my own species. We live in a very unequal society, where thousands of people all over the world die of starvation and diseases caused by poverty every day, while people in first world countries (like my own) kill ourselves with diseases caused by over eating. There is enough money and resources to feed everyone in the world if only we would share it all out properly! Mass production of meat is a very wasteful process.

"One acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes. One acre of land can produce 165 pounds of beef. It takes 1 pound of grain to make 1 pound of bread. It takes 20 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef'

If everyone in the world was vegetarian, then the resources we have would stretch much further, as we could grow more crops. I'm not saying this would be the whole solution to world hunger, but it make be a huge contribution to it. I know that persuading everyone to change their eating habits will be a very long process, but it is not impossible. Every single individual can make a difference. Meat production also causes massive environmental damage.

'The U.S. cattle industry produces 158 million tons of waste per year. Livestock production is the #1 cause of water pollution in the U.S. 22 million acres of land have become unusable due to desertification. 85% of the topsoil loss in the U.S. is the result of livestock production."

People always want to know my reasons for giving up meat. I like to tell them that I can think of dozens of reasons not to eat meat, and challenge them to come up with a good reason to eat it. Many people argue that humans are 'meant' to eat meat. We have evolved as omnivores and therefore should keep on that way since it is our 'natural' state. My answer to this is that wearing clothes, cooking our food, sleeping indoors, language, creating art and music are all unnatural. Humans, unlike most other animals, have the capacity to reason. We can decide what we believe is right or wrong and change our behaviour accordingly. Thousands of years ago our ancestors found that they were cold and changed from their natural state of nakedness to wearing animal skins to keep warm. In the same way, as we find that meat eating, which was a sensible option back when food for everyone was scarce and we were yet to develop other methods of food production, is no longer viable, we can change to a new, better diet. Some people tell me I should eat meat because it is better for me. Well, that's debatable. Meat is certainly the best source of protein, but there are other alternatives available, like tofu and mushrooms. A diet high in soybeans (from which tofu is made) is believed to help prevent breast cancer in women. Tofu by itself is about as flavourful and exciting in texture as styrofoam, but with a little imagination and some spices or sauce you can make quite tasty dishes with it. Honestly. I recommend checking out .com for advice on meat substitutes. Meat is very high in animal fat, which is very damaging to the health.

"the countries with the diets highest in animal products are also the countries with the highest rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporsis etc."

Vegetarians tend to eat less animal fat (except possibly cheese and chocolate addicts like me), and more vitamins, since their diet contains a wider variety of vegetables. The final reason people give me for eating meat is because they like it. I can't really argue with that. It's a question of your personal beliefs and what you feel you can justify. I don't expect my personal choice to change the world by itself, but it's a start, and I feel a lot better about myself for at least trying.

'Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet' Albert Einstein

Peace love and soybeans! Tiefling
Bibliography and Suggested Reading

Sleeve notes from Moby's album 'Everything is Wrong' 1995

Websites- People for Ethical Treatment of animals- .org .com