By Lou Margetson
Universe dated March 15 1998
Could you face life without meat? Lou Margetson discovers that
turning to vegetarianism is both a moral and healthy choice
Once they were the butt of jokes, lentil-eating eccentrics who knew
no better. But today, research shows that one in six British people
class themselves as vegetarians - or at least believe they will become
And national campaign group Animal Aid (AA) is aiming to encourage
more people to give up meat for good.
A special round-the-clock helpline is being launched to help people
cope with the 'cold turkey' of turning their back on life as meat-eaters
- offering advice and support.
Recent statistics compiled by pollsters Gallup reveal 13,000
people-a-week have stopped eating red meat in the past two years. Of
them, around 5,000 go on and complete the move to a wholly vegetarian
Vegetarians and vegans now make up 5.4 per cent of the population - a
20 per cent rise since 1995.
AA spokesman Andrew Tyler says that animals raised for meat
production face a life of cramped conditions, ill-health, injury or
death during transportation and the risk of not being properly stunned
before they are slaughtered for human consumption.
And Tyler believes such methods have a ripple effect through the food
"There are consequences for the humans. Intensive rearing causes
stress to animals. They get sick, and people consume sick animals, which
in turn can cause them to become ill."
AA also believes that by adopting a vegetarian lifestyle people can
improve their own health. The view is backed by the Vegetarian Society.
"People are starting to sit up and listen about healthy eating
recommendations, and these all include fruit and vegetables which are
high in fibre and low in fat," says Chris Dessent, VS spokesman.
"Research shows that vegetarians have 40 per cent less chance of
contracting cancer, and thirty per cent less chance of getting heart
Opponents of vegetarianism often say that adopting the lifestyle
could lead to iron and vitamin deficiency.
But Dessent said: "That theory has been totally disproved. Many
families now have vegetarian meals once or twice a week, without even
Reproduced with thanks.
Return to Articles