Choosing Vegetarian

A little over eight months ago, I read a book that severely altered the way I look at the world around me. The book, The Food Revolution by John Robbins, led to a significant lifestyle change for me.

You might recognize John Robbins name. His previous book, Diet for a New America, led to the controversy that eventually resulted in Texas cattlemen suing Oprah for saying she would never eat another hamburger again. I haven't said that I will never eat another hamburger again. In fact, I hope to. But, it has been over eight months since I had a hamburger or any other meat product. Here's why:

I found out from Robbins and other research some startling truths about the meat industry and our over-consumption of meat. These truths are bigger than PETA and the various pathogens and carcinogens found in meat. The truth is that the meat industry has disastrous effects on our environment and world hunger.

Here's the facts:

Today more than one billion children do not have enough to eat. One child dies every three seconds from preventable diseases like diarrhea--diseases that are often the result of starvation. 80% of starving children live in countries that actually have food surpluses, but these children remain hungry because that food is used to feed animals. If everyone on the planet received 25% of their daily caloric intake from meat, there would only be enough food to feed 3.2 billion people. Drop it to 15%, and another billion could be fed. These figures leave 3-2 billion people without. It takes about 16lbs of grain to produce just one pound of edible flesh.

A major 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. Raising animals for food, the report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale ….”

For me, I cannot reconcile the consumption of meat with my own moral values and my role as a human formed in the image of God. I hope that one day the meat industry will not wreak such havoc on world hunger or the environment. I look forward to the possibility of having greater access to free-range meats that are fed off the land they live on rather than acres of grain produced in deforested rain forest regions. But for now, I choose to not eat meat because I can't live with myself if I do.

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