Eating Green:
It's Not Just for Hippies Anymore

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Eating Green:
It's Not Just for Hippies Anymore

By Sidni Giordano on The Bottom Line
March 2010

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
Albert Einstein

Wouldn't it make more sense to distribute agricultural resources to hungry humans instead of to methane-releasing livestock?

What images come to mind when you hear the word "vegetarian" or "vegan?" Some people think of the stereotypical hippie wearing a "Save the Animals" tee shirt and eating tofu. Some people depict classic Indian Buddhists who abstain from meat for religious reasons. The truth is that all different kinds of people around the world who consider vegetarianism a healthy, viable diet.

There are many different benefits from living the vegetarian lifestyle. Health reasons are among the most practical. Nutritional vegetarian diets reduce your risk of contracting many of America's most common health issues, including heart disease, cancer and stroke.

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer. Also, meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese compared to vegetarians. Some skeptics believe that vegetarians don't receive the proper vitamins and nutrients, but this is not the case. A healthy, balanced vegetarian diet consists of eating a variety of beans, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, which will provide you with all the nutrients your body needs. Vegetarian diets are also high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, which are both important factors that boost energy levels.

Not only are vegetarians healthier, but they are better for the environment. Animal production, especially in the form of factory farms, is an environmentally unsustainable practice in many different ways. According to a 2009 report from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, the international meat industry generates about 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the world's transportation emissions. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food, indicates that animals on factory farms in the United States produce 87,000 pounds of waste a second, which is 130 times more than the U.S. population! This number may seem startling, but it is due to the fact that animal farming releases harmful gases known as methane and nitrous oxide. Methane has about 21 times more Global Warming Potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide has 296 times the GWP of CO2. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in order to feed farm animals, nearly half of the United States' water supply and 80% of its agricultural land is required. Wouldn't it make more sense to distribute agricultural resources to hungry humans instead of to methane-releasing livestock?

Adopting a vegetarian way of life is one of the most substantial and effective actions to take in an effort to conserve the Earth's limited resources. It is also one of the most morally responsible diets because it reduces the suffering of other sentient beings. Also, consider this: research shows that vegetarians may have a significantly lower risk of mortality when compared to people who eat meat. Remember that every meatless meal counts!