Vegetarian Awareness Month

By Lindy Almony | LB

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month.

Last semester I took a class, Contemporary Social Problems, with Professor Jordan Brown. For our final project, we were to become claims makers for a cause that we saw as a social problem.

The social problem I explored was the effects of animal agriculture on our environment, our health and our farm animals.

I tried to influence people outside of the movement, using amplification, to draw upon values and emotions that many people hold. I asked students and professors to sign pledges, stating that they would spend one day following a plant-based diet including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. I asked that they not consume any meat during the duration of their chosen day. This included all red meat, chicken, fish and poultry.

Many people gladly participated. Many did not.

As someone who has been a vegetarian for eight years, I found this very surprising. Just one day, I thought. Is it that difficult?

Then I considered that many people are not aware of all the factors that encourage many people to begin a meat-free diet. I was able to reach many people in the Flagler College community during this project.

This month, in honor of Vegetarian Awareness, I hoped to share with even more people the effect of animal agriculture on our environment, our health and farm animals.

Environmental Issues

A 2006 United Nations report said, “Animal agriculture” should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.”

According to the Environmental Defense Counsel, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads.

The amount of water that it takes to produce one pound of meat could provide an individual with a year’s worth of showers.

In the U.S., 70 percent of all grains, 80 percent of all agricultural land, half of all water resources and one-third of all fossil fuels are used to raise animals for food.

Health Issues

The American Dietetic Association states that those following a healthy, balanced vegetarian diet will have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension, type two diabetes and prostate and colon cancer.”

It is imperative that vegetarians make an extra effort to ensure they’re receiving all of the nutrients needed. In turn, they miss out on all the saturated fat, cholesterol and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs and dairy products.

A few nutrients to be sure to include in your well-planned vegetarian diet are:

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than non-vegetarians do.

Calcium from fortified soymilk or rice milk, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, beans, calcium-set tofu, almonds and almond butter.

Consuming a good source of vitamin C (citrus fruits, orange juice, tomatoes) at each meal increases iron absorption.

Iron from nuts and nut butters, potatoes (with skin) & enriched pasta.

Your body produces its own complete protein, as long as a variety of foods and ample calories are eaten during the day.

Protein from beans, whole grains, soy products and eggs.

For vegetarians who eat some dairy products or eggs, vitamin b12 is not generally a concern.

Vitamin b12 from nutritional yeast, soymilk, meat analogs and ready-to-eat cereals.

Those who choose not to eat dairy products and who are not exposed to sunlight on a regular basis may consider taking a vitamin D supplement of no more than 100 percent of the Daily Value.

Vitamin d from soymilk, cow’s milk, orange juice and ready-to-eat cereals. Vitamin D is also made in the skin from sunlight.

Cruelty to Animals

“These animals will never raise their families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything that is natural to them,” wrote, a website for the rights of animals. “They won’t even feel the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.”

Neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation and drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling. Transport through all weather extremes. Gruesome and violent slaughter: all cruelty that would be illegal if inflicted upon dogs or cats, but no such policies are in place to protect farmed animals. These animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as our pets.

USDA slaughter stats for 2008:

Cattle: 35,507,500
Pigs: 116,558,900
Chickens: 9,075,261,000
Layer hens: 69,683,000
Broiler chickens: 9,005,578,000
Turkeys: 271,245,00

Hopefully, these facts and statistics will, at the very least, encourage people to consider what they’re eating and all of the outward effects.

Check it out and see what it’s like to spend a day as a vegetarian. Remember that you are helping the environment, bettering your body and health while saving the lives of innocent animals.

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