As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, I took a minute to assess what my contribution is to keeping the earth green and being kind to our Mother Earth. I think that of all the ways I work toward being supportive of the earth–conserving water, driving a very fuel efficient vehicle and limiting my trips, conserving electricity and teaching my children to recycle by using cloth bags instead of plastic, cloth napkins in place of paper towels, etc. Despite these practices that I think most people are already doing, it is my belief that being a vegetarian is my most important contribution to the health of this planet.
I found this lovely quote about becoming a vegetarian by Paul McCartney,
“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you can do.”
Almost 15 years ago I became a vegetarian purely for health reasons. It started as a 30-day experiment, which after I felt so much better in the first ten days I decided to make the change permanent before the 30 days was up. When I stopped eating meat I felt so much clarity. I got this burst of energy, I felt vibrant and more alive if that makes any sense. I lost about ten pounds in that first month effortlessly and I slept better than I ever had.
I understand that God has given each of us free will. We each get to choose our path and live with the consequences of our choices, so I resist the urge to evangelize about vegetarianism. I just tell people how good it has been for me, and I let them make their own choices. Even my own children have chosen to not be vegetarian, and that is fine with me. Living in my household, they eat a largely vegetarian diet by default because I will not buy or cook any raw meat in my house. I don’t even like to walk by the meat counter in the grocery store.
All I want to do here is present the facts about my experience with becoming a veg, and the damage that meat production is doing to this planet, and what a massive, earth-changing decision it is to become a vegetarian.
What are the benefits of being a vegetarian?
Save the earth
Since it’s earth day I’ll start with saving the earth. “More than half of the water used in the United States today goes to animal agriculture, and since farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population, the run-off from their waste is fouling our waterways.” -goveg.com
-Animal waste poisons air, land and water and the gases from animal excrement is one of the largest contributors to global warming.
-70 percent of the grain (corn, wheat, etc.) grown in the U.S. goes to feed meat producing animals
-It takes eight times as much water to produce a pound of beef than it takes to produce a loaf of bread (Wall Street Journal)
Save your health
A plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for humans. The big three ‘lifestyle diseases,’ diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are caused by too much saturated fat and cholesterol in our arteries from eating animals. The fastest way to reverse these diseases is to put the person on a vegetarian diet.
Meat eaters are at increased risk for several diseases such as obesity, strokes, arthritis, Alzheimers and others.
Save the animals
Animals were not created simply to fill our pots and our bellies. I firmly believe that if more Americans were responsible for killing and preparing the meat that they eat, they would eat less of it if not become vegetarian. Most people do not want to know how their meat arrives at their table. They close their eyes to the slaughter of millions of chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys as they bite down on their juicy hamburgers, or fried chicken legs.
Each person who becomes a vegetarian will on average save 100 animals per year from slaughter.
So, when you get down to it, it’s pretty simple. Just stop eating meat. I know that there are people who take too much pleasure in eating meat to stop altogether, so maybe try going a whole week without eating meat, and then a whole month and see how it feels.
Eating a plant-based diet is good for you, it’s good for the earth and it saves the lives of animals. It’s a win-win-win!
If you want to give the vegetarian lifestyle a try even for a single day, here are some resources for you: