In spite of the increasing need for a shift toward
vegetarianism to counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many
environmental threats caused by the production and consumption of animal
products, progress has been relatively slow. it is time for a
consideration of new strategies to promote vegetarianism more effectively.
The ten ideas suggested below are designed to start a dialogue that will
lead to positive changes. It is my hope that this article will elicit
additional suggestions and effective initiatives.
1. Set a Goal and a Time Table Toward a Vegetarian
We should not be satisfied with the relatively slow
progress currently being made toward vegetarianism, especially in the face
of all the recent disturbing reports of environmental catastrophes ahead.
One possibility is to declare a goal, such as "A Vegetarian-conscious
world by 2010." This could inspire our efforts by providing something to
work toward. Note the term "vegetarian conscious." We can’t hope that
every person will be a vegetarian by 2010, or any other time, and we
should not argue that each person must be a vegetarian. However, we can
work, with a heightened sense of urgency, to see that everyone is at least
aware of the many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, with the hope that
many will act based on that knowledge.
2. Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is
Beneficial for People as Well as Animals
Many people resist vegetarian arguments, asserting that
they can’t be concerned about animals when people face so many problems.
We should stress that a shift to vegetarianism would be very beneficial to
people as well as animals. Among the arguments we should use are:
* Animal-based diets increase risk factors for many life-threatening
diseases, including heart disease, several types of cancer, and stroke.
* Animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to many environmental
threats to humanity.
* The feeding of 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States
(and almost 40 percent of the grain produced worldwide) to farmed animals
contributes to an estimated 20 million of the world’s people dying
annually from hunger and its effects.
3. Argue that a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Societal
Humanity is arguably threatened as perhaps never before
from global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction,
destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many
other problems. We should make people aware that all of these threats and
many more are significantly worsened by the following: we are raising 50
billion farmed animals for slaughter annually worldwide; almost 40 percent
of the world’s grain is used to fatten farmed animals; it takes 14 times
as much water, ten times as much energy, and over 20 times as much land
for an animal-based diet than it does for a vegan diet; animal-based
agriculture contributes significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide,
methane, and other greenhouse gases; and much more. We should also stress
that diseases caused by the consumption of animal product results in
soaring medical expenditures which are contributing to record budget
deficits and the perceived need to cut basic social services.
4. Argue that a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Religious
Most people profess to be religious today and many claim
to base their lives on moral values related to their religions. We should
respectfully discuss with such people how animal-based diets and
agriculture contradict basic religious mandates to preserve our health,
treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve natural
resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace. We should stress
such biblical teachings as "God’s mercies are over all of his creatures"
(Psalms 145:9), "the righteous person considers the lives of his or her
animals" (Proverbs 12:10), that animals as well as people are to be
permitted to rest on the Sabbath day (part of the Ten Commandments), and
similar teachings from other holy books and teachers.
5. Relate Vegetarianism to Current News Items
Vegetarianism touches on almost all phases of life –
health, nutrition, animals, the environment, energy, water and other
resources, economics, politics, family life, and many more – and we should
make people aware of connections. When there are news reports re global
warming and its effects, we should point out that animal-based diets
contribute significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and
other greenhouse gases. When there are articles re taxes, budget deficits,
and other economic issues, we should indicate that health costs are
soaring in efforts to cure the many diseases that have been conclusively
connected to animal-centered diets. When there are articles about water
shortages and droughts, we should help make people aware that animal-based
agriculture requires far more water and other resources than plant-based
agriculture. Many additional examples can be given.
6. Start a Letter Writing Campaign
As a follow-up to the discussion in item #5, there should
be a major campaign to get letters to editors on connections between
various issues and vegetarianism. If only a small percentage of the people
concerned about vegetarianism and related issues wrote a letter just once
a month, it could have a major impact. A web site should be set up that
gives talking points daily for letters based on current issues as well as
As a related approach, since many people listen daily to
talk radio shows, there should also be a concerted effort to get people to
call such shows with vegetarian messages. While radio talk show hosts are
generally very well informed on a wide variety of issues, I have found
that many have major misconceptions re health, nutrition, and other
7. Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal
The vast majority of cases of animal abuses occur on
factory farms. Yet, many, perhaps most, animal rights activists are
working on other issues, such as circuses, rodeos, fur, pets, and animal
experimentation. These are all important issues and it is essential to end
all cases of animal abuse. But, animal-based diets and agriculture
threaten most individuals’ personal health and the well being of humanity.
If most animal rights advocates worked on promoting vegetarianism and
veganism, even for a limited time, in addition to their other animal
rights efforts, it could have a very powerful impact.
8. Challenge the Medical Establishment
Every person is concerned about his or her health and the
health of loved ones. There is very strong evidence that incidents of
heart disease, various types of cancer, strokes, and other chronic
degenerative diseases can be sharply reduced by a shift to vegetarian and
vegan diets, along with other positive lifestyle changes. Yet, the medical
establishment, including most nutritionists, are ignoring this
information, and are not making patients and the general public aware that
many diseases can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, through dietary
changes. It might even be called medical malpractice. I recently visited a
cousin in a rehabilitation center, and was astounded at reading the daily
menus, which had animal products at every meal. It is essential that we
challenge medical practitioners and respectfully urge them to help educate
people about healthy diets.
As indicated in point #10, others, such as educators,
politicians, religious leaders, and reporters, should also be challenged
to increase awareness of the health and many other benefits of vegetarian
and vegan diets.
9. Form Alliances With Other Groups
Since vegetarianism has connections with many societal
issues, we should try to build strong alliances with many other groups
that are working for positive changes. For example, we should seek
alliances with environmental groups, and inform them that the raising of
50 billion animals for slaughter annually, primarily on "factory farms,"
contributes to many environmental threats; we should seek alliances with
groups concerned about hunger, poverty, water and energy shortages, global
warming, and related issues, and inform them about how the production of
animal products contributes to many environmental threats and is extremely
wasteful of resources.
10. Challenge the Media, Politicians, Educators, and Other
Members of the Establishment
Since, as indicated above humanity is threatened as
perhaps never before, and a switch toward vegetarianism is a societal
imperative, and there are vegetarian connections to many current issues,
we should try to meet with influential members of society and urge them to
take a stand re vegetarianism, or at least to put the issues on their
agendas. We should urge educators to see that children learn about proper
nutrition and are provided with tasty, nutritious options at every meal.
We should exhort reporters and editors to make people aware of the many
negative effects of animal-based diets and the many benefits of vegetarian
and vegan diets.
This is just an outline of some steps that I think would be helpful in
moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many dedicated people
in the vegetarian and related movements can add to my points and come up
with additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become
increasingly involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our
precious, but imperiled, planet.
I want to commend you for your important efforts to
educate people on the need to shift toward plant-based diets. However, in
spite of the increasing need for a shift toward vegetarianism to
counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many environmental
threats caused by the production and consumption of animal products,
progress has been relatively slow. I believe that it is time for a
consideration of strategies to promote vegetarianism more effectively.
Here are ten suggestions designed to start a dialogue that will lead to
1. Set a goal such as "A Vegetarian-conscious World by
2. Make people aware that a shift toward vegetarianism is
beneficial for people as well as animals.
3. Argue that a shift toward vegetarianism is a societal
imperative today because of the many negative health and environmental
effects of animal-based diets.
4. Argue that a shift toward vegetarianism is a religious
imperative today because animal-centered diets violate many religious
5. Relate vegetarianism to current news items.
6. Start a letter writing campaign and a campaign of
responses to radio talk shows.
7. Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal
8. Challenge the medical establishment to inform people
that many diseases can be prevented and sometimes reversed through a shift
to vegan diets and other positive lifestyle changes.
9. Form alliances with environmental, health, animal
rights, social justice, and other groups.
10. Urge the media, politicians, educators, and others to
help make people aware of the many benefits of vegetarian diets.
This is just an outline of some steps that I think would
be helpful in moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many
dedicated people in the vegetarian and related movements can come up with
additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become increasingly
involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but
Richard Schwartz would welcome comments and suggestions, including
additional ways to effectively promote vegetarianism. His email address is
[email protected]. He has given permission for you to share the article
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