The Horrible Stories and the Facts

Modern agriculture keeps cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals in small overcrowded stalls, cages, crates, or sheds where they're often unable to take a step or even turn around for their whole lives. Most never get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. The animals are hung upside down and their throats are sliced open, often while they're still conscious.

Hens live their entire lives crowded into cages so small they’re barely able to move. They lose their feathers and their skin turns red and raw from rubbing against the wire walls. To keep them from pecking each other in frustration, factory workers slice off chicks' beaks with a hot blade, sometimes taking part of their tongues or faces with it.

Female pigs are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal stalls where they can’t turn around or even nuzzle their babies. Males are castrated and have their tails cut off without any painkillers.

Cows raised for beef are branded, castrated, and dehorned without anesthesia. They often die of pneumonia, dehydration, or heat exhaustion during their long ride without food or water in overcrowded trucks on their way to feedlots or slaughterhouses.

According to inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), slaughterhouses routinely skin live cows, immerse squealing pigs in scalding water, and cut the feet, ears, and udders off cows without stunning them first.

No federal law covers chickens and turkeys, so those who survive the ride to the slaughterhouse are still conscious when their throats are slit. Today's poultry slaughterhouses are so disgusting, one former USDA scientist says the "final product is no different than if you stuck it in the toilet and ate it.

In an effort to conserve water, you install a water saver on your kitchen faucet, saving up to 6,000 gallons of water per year. Most of those savings will be lost if you consume just one pound of California beef (which requires 5,200 gallons of water per pound to produce–compared to only 25 gallons for a pound of wheat). Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all water used in the U.S. A totally vegetarian diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,200 gallons of water per day.

A typical pig factory generates raw waste equal to that of a city of 12,000 people. In fact, the meat industry is the single greatest polluter of U.S. waters. In December 1997, the Senate agricultural committee released a report which stated that animals raised for food produce 130 times the excrement of the entire human population, roughly 68,000 pounds a second.

Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles. Of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S., more than one-third is used to raise animals for food.

Of all agricultural land in the U.S., 87 percent is used to raise animals for food. That’s 45 percent of the total land mass in the U.S.

Each vegetarian saves one acre of trees every year! More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to grow crops to feed animals raised for meat, and another acre of trees disappears every eight seconds. The tropical rain forests are also being destroyed to create grazing land for cattle. Fifty-five square feet of rain forest may be razed to produce just one quarter-pound burger

The meat industry is directly responsible for 85 percent of all soil erosion in the U.S., because so much grain is needed to feed animals being raised for food. In the U.S., animals are fed more than 80 percent of the corn we grow and more than 95 percent of the oats. The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people--more than the entire human population on Earth. According to the Worldwatch Institute, "[T]he easiest way to reduce grain consumption is to lower the intake of meat and milk, grain-intensive foods. Roughly two of every five tons of grain produced in the world is fed to livestock, poultry or fish; decreasing consumption of these products, especially of beef, could free up massive quantities of grain and reduce pressure on land."

Vegetarianism has consistently proven to be the best diet plan for taking weight off and keeping it off. Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the British Medical Journal have found that, on average, vegetarians are significantly leaner than meat-eaters. Even so-called "diet meats" like fish and poultry are sky high in fat compared to vegetarian foods and contain exactly the same amount of cholesterol as beef.

Meat-based diets can led to impotence: Studies show that vegetarians have significantly lower rates of impotence, because meat clogs up the arteries going to all your organs, not just your heart. If you wouldn’t eat veggies for your mother, maybe now you’ll do it for your lover!

The American Dietetic Association notes that "a considerable body of scientific data suggests positive relationships between vegetarian diets and risk reduction for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some types of cancer."

Thirteen million Americans suffer from coronary artery disease, and heart attacks kill more than 500,000 people a year. A groundbreaking study by Dr. Dean Ornish found that low-fat vegetarian diets can actually reverse coronary artery disease. His no-meat, no-dairy program is now covered by more than 40 major U.S. health insurance companies.

Nutritional researcher T. Colin Campbell, who studied exhaustive data collected from thousands of people over the course of 10 years, concluded, "The vast majority, perhaps 80 to 90%, of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented ... simply by adopting a plant-based diet."

Vegetarianism is an automatic cholesterol cutter. Dietary cholesterol, which causes heart disease, is found only in animal products. No one has ever died of a heart attack with a cholesterol level below 150, and the average vegan has a cholesterol level of 128.

Vegetarian women are less than one-fourth as likely as meat-eaters to get breast cancer.

One 21-year-long study that compared meat-eaters and vegetarians showed that the greater the meat consumption, the greater the death rate from all causes combined.

Up to 90 percent of federally inspected poultry is infected with bacteria like salmonella and camylobacter, which cause sometimes-fatal vomiting and diarrhea.

The veggie burger may soon replace the hamburger as the quintessential American food. Since Gardenburger’s first commercial appeared on television in 1998, all veggie burger manufacturers have seen their sales skyrocket. Most major American restaurant chains now have briskly-selling veggie burgers on their menus. When McDonald’s introduced veggie burgers at two of its New York City restaurants, in response to customer demand, they were such a hit that veggie patties are now available at McDonald’s all over the city. And baseball parks around the country now offer meatless hot dogs and veggie burgers to sports fans.

The White House stocks vegetarian Boca Burgers for the Clintons and their guests, and in England, vegetable curry has replaced beef as the nation’s most popular food. In 1998, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was named cookbook of the year by the prestigious Julia Child Cookbook Awards program.

Retailers report that they can’t keep meat substitutes like Unturkey and Tofurkey on the shelves.

In the past 10 years, sales of meat and dairy alternatives, like fake meats and soymilks, have grown by more than 450%. Soymilk has become so popular that there are now more than 15 varieties available, and it’s easy to find lattes and other coffee beverages made with soy instead of cow’s milk.

Top companies see that the future is in vegetarian foods. Kellogg’s just bought vegetarian food maker Worthington Foods, and Kraft Foods just bought Boca Burger, one of the most popular veggie burger manufacturers.


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