Animal Rights & Veganism
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Why You Should Consider Adopting a Vegetarian Diet
Cruelty to Animals
More than 27 billion animals are killed for food every year in the U.S. alone. Animals in factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats, including neglect, mutilations, genetic manipulation, drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transport through all weather extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter.
Farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as our companions. They are inquisitive, interesting individuals who value their lives, solve problems, experience fear and pain, and are capable of using tools. According to animal-behavior scientists, chickens begin learning from their mothers while they are still in their shells, pigs can play video games better than some primates can, and fish form social bonds and can remember things that they have learned for the human equivalent of 40 years.
Vegetarian foods provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants that are found in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Plant-based diets protect us against heart disease, diabetes, obesity, strokes, and several types of cancer. Vegetarians also have stronger immune systems and, on average, live 10 years longer than meat-eaters do.
America’s meat addiction is poisoning and depleting our potable water, arable land, and clean air. More than half the water used in the United States goes to animal agriculture, and since farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population does, the run-off from their waste greatly pollutes our waterways.
Raising animals for food is extremely inefficient—for every pound of food that they eat, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we would easily be able to feed every human on the planet with healthy and affordable vegetarian foods.
Human Rights Watch has declared that slaughterhouse workers have “the most dangerous factory job in America.” The industry has refused to do what’s necessary to create safe working conditions for its employees, such as slowing down slaughter lines and supplying workers with appropriate safety gear, because these changes could cut into companies’ bottom lines.
Factory Farms: Poisoning Communities
Factory farms pollute the air and water for many miles in every direction, often spreading contamination and illness to the people who live and work nearby. Chronic sickness, brain damage, poisoned waterways, elevated cancer rates, and even death plague these communities, while the government does nothing to protect citizens or regulate the industry.
Between 2000 and 2005, agribusinesses funneled more than $140 million to politicians, who more than earned their money by helping to ensure that laws that might protect consumers, animals, and the environment did not pass. The unfortunate truth is that the federal government does very little to protect human health, animal welfare, and our environment from the factory-farming industry’s negligence and excess.
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