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10 February 1999 Issue

We Are The World

by PrkStRangr@aol.com

It is often easy to feel like we are in the minority, those of us who have chosen
to be vegetarians. But the fact is that more than two-thirds of the world's people
eat what is basically a vegetarian diet. The meat-centered diet of our country
is something of a fad foisted on people by a heavily advertised cowboy culture.
Unfortunately, many people have been led to believe that meat and dairy are
an important part of a balanced diet. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Economics is the primary reason that most people don't eat meat. There is an
enormous real cost of meat. In our country we don't see the hidden costs, so
many of our tax dollars go to prop up the meat industry. It's estimated that
hamburger would cost over thirty dollars a pound if all the price supports were
figured in. I think that might be an underestimate.

Water price supports for cattle, cheap grazing on public lands, increased taxes
for medical care to meat-related diseases, price support to hog farmers and
other animal slavers, I don't ask meat eaters to help me pay for my tofu, why
should my taxes pay for torturing and killing animals?

Religious reasons account for many of the vegetarians. Many people in India
and the Asian countries choose a vegetarian diet based on precepts of
Buddhism and Hinduism. Even Judaism and Christianity have many directives
pointing to vegetarianism, the bible teaches compassion and that our bodies are
sacred and not to be polluted with poisons. I have even seen arguments that
Jesus was a vegetarian. But please hold your cards and letters if you are a
meat eating Christian. I don't have time to debate with you.

And related to religious reasons are the ethical and moral reasons based on a
concept of Animal Rights that cause people to change to a vegetarian lifestyle.
Many people don't want to participate in the incredible suffering that takes place
on factory farms to provide 9 billion dead animals per year for the meat on our
tables. Animal rights and welfare is the second most popular reason that people
go vegetarian.

I like to think that the tide is turning in our country. More and more people are
going vegetarian as the health benefits are continuing to be published in the
media. A low fat vegetarian diet has been found to reduce the risk of diabetes,
heart disease, several types of cancer, osteoporosis, and other degenerative
diseases. We just had the largest meat recall in the history of our country due
to listeria bacteria contamination of millions of pounds of hot dogs and cold
cuts. It doesn't make sense to eat meat, and people are catching on to this.

And yet, it is easy to feel alone. So many people in our country are still trapped
in the meat habit, and in the United States we vegetarians are still a minority.
The incredible waste of natural resources that go to produce a meat-based diet
cannot continue long into the next century and eventually everyone will be
eating as we do. In the mean time I think it is very important to have the
fellowship of others who eat compassionately. I enjoy being a member of my
local vegetarian society and I hope each of you have a local group you can
join. It is helpful to associate with others who share the same philosophy of life.
You might even want to consider starting a vegetarian group of your own if
none exist where you are. But keep remembering, on a planetary scale we are
the majority, we are the world.

Clubs, organizations and resources in the United States:
World Guide To Vegetarianism - USA - Index
http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/veg/Guide/USA/index.html

Resources around the world:
World Guide To Vegetarianism
http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/veg/Guide/index.html

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