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No More Beef - the Argument for Vegetarianism

by Donna Jennings(more info)

listed in vegetarianism, originally published in issue 173 - August 2010

Can you remember John Lennon and Janice Joplin? Maybe you recall the huge festival at Woodstock, UK in 1969 where 400,000 hippies gathered to celebrate three days of peace and music as they congregated on a cocktail of love and drugs.

The hippie era was renowned for peace and harmony to all living things, but attracted a negative attitude to vegetarianism. Long haired, unkempt, anti-war peacemakers, under the influence of mind altering drugs were considered by many conventional families to be wacky beyond comprehension.

As the years passed by, this prejudice against vegetarianism slowly turned a new leaf as scientists unveiled major environmental issues concerning the planet. Amongst these discoveries were alarming facts which proved that the livestock industry was a major contributor to environmental degradation. Research shows that livestock farming is responsible for a number of negative phenomena.

Air Pollution Caused by Grazing

Cows innocently chewing the cud may seem harmless enough, but the digestion process causes an emission of gases which cause serious damage to the ozone layer and the air around us.

The invisible gas produced from a cow's flatulence contains a chemical known as methane which rises into the stratosphere and damages the ozone layer. These gases are said to be more potent than the emissions from a light truck or car, and are causing severe climatic change. It is estimated that just one single cow will produce at least 300 quarts of methane gas daily which is equivalent to over 400 filled party balloons. Multiply that figure by 1.53 billion cows, and it is easy to see just how much harmful gas is being seeped into the ozone layer.

Urine from livestock is also harmful to the environment as it consists of ammonia which is absorbed into the atmosphere to fall as acid rain.

Land Degradation as a Result of Grazing Livestock

Furthermore, over-grazing causes severe land degeneration as fertile soil becomes barren. Large rain forests are cleared away to make more land available for grazing cattle but the removal of these valuable trees means that carbon dioxide cannot be absorbed by plants. Therefore, this harmful chemical rises into the ozone layer causing the earth to heat up and alter the climate. The destruction of forests also causes a great loss in the variety of animals and plants within the world.

Lake and River Pollution Caused by Livestock Farms

Seas are also becoming severely polluted, as rain water washes animal waste into lakes and rivers. This causes contamination in the seas which poisons fish and causes many to become extinct.

As environmentalists look for ways to tackle this problem, more and more celebrities have jumped on the vegetarian bandwagon to make the public aware of the harmful effects of emissions occurring from livestock. In a recent article to PETA Sir Paul McCartney quoted; "The biggest change anyone could make in their own lifestyle would be to become vegetarian... I would urge everyone to think about taking this simple step to help our precious environment and save it for the children of the future." Statements like these help to shape our society and present vegetarianism as a cool and modern way to save the planet whilst making a stand against animal cruelty in the process.

The past twenty years have also unveiled some dramatic insights into illnesses related to eating meat including obesity, heart disease, kidney/liver disorders and diabetes.

It is estimated that by 2011, one in four people will become obese which will reduce an average lifespan by at least nine years. Health concerns are now high on the agenda as medical experts uncover the many illnesses associated with meat.

Celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gillian McKeith diligently promote healthy eating habits and are encouraging parents to take responsibility for their children's diet. With celebrities such as Chrissie Hynde, Moby, Joanna Lumley. Pamela Anderson, Billie Joe Armstrong (from Greenday), Kim Bassinger and Victoria Beckham taking the veggie route for environmental, health or moral reasons, there has never been a better time to cut down or stop eating meat and opt for a vegetarian diet.

In the UK, the rise in vegetarianism has soared over the past twenty years and those who say 'no' to meat are no longer considered freaky or odd. To compensate for the increasing demands of vegetarian alternatives, supermarkets now stock a huge range of vegetarian products including the Linda McCartney range which consists of a vegetarian alternative to sausages and pies. Quorn has also made a huge impact on the vegetarian frontier with a realistic version of bacon, chicken and beef which is so realistic that even many of their carnivorous counterparts have been fooled. The good thing about this product is that it can be used to convert any meat recipe into a vegetarian alternative. For example, a good chicken curry can easily be replaced with quorn chicken to make a vegetarian equivalent.

Dieticians confirm that vegetarian food is lower in calories and does not contain the fat found on meat which is said to be more of a danger to health than smoking! They have also confirmed that meat does not offer anything that cannot be found in a vegetarian diet. With that in mind, there seems little reason why we should continue putting our health and the environment at risk for a food which is simply costing us the earth!


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About Donna Jennings

Donna Jennings writes on a variety of Nutritional subjects and may be contacted on

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