How Did I Become Vegetarian In One Day?
It was late afternoon in the veterinary clinic and as usual we had been slammed all day with exams, surgeries and emergencies. As was typical there was no time for lunch and it looked like dinner would be late.
Ready for the next appointment, the receptionist handed me a patient folder and directed me to a man and son with medium sized red dog crate. I escorted them into an exam room where I would do a preliminary exam and gather vitals and reason for their visit before the Veterinarian saw them.
When the man opened the crate out walks the cutest little pig I had ever seen. His name was Kevin. That moment it dawned on me, why am I eating animals that I swore an oath to save? That was the exact moment I became a vegetarian.
Ethics of Growing Animals for Food for a Growing Population.
Approximately 9.2 billion cattle, chickens, ducks, hogs, sheep, lambs and turkeys were killed for food in the United States in 2015. (The Humane Society of the United States via USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service) While that number is staggering, the good news is that the number of animals being killed for human consumption has been steadily declining as the population has been growing.
USDA slaughter stats 2008 9.5 billion
- Cattle: 28,752
- Pigs: 116,452
- Chickens: 9,075,261
- Ducks: 24,149
- Turkeys: 271,245
- Sheep & Lambs 2,556
The total number of all animals killed for food in 2000 was 8.5 billion.
And that doesn’t even include sea animals, fish, crab, lobster, shrimp, Mahi Mahi.
Factory Farming and Our Health.
We’ll use cows for this, but strategies are similar for other species. The purpose is to get as much weight on as quickly as possible since a cow’s life is only 12 to 14 months from birth to slaughter. To do this a calf spends its first 6 months in the pasture where they have first mothers milk then grass or hay. Then they are held in a feed lot where they are fed approximately 60 to 70 pounds per day each of corn, barley, soy and other grains plus growth hormones and antibiotics.
- 70% of anti-biotics in the US are given to livestock, including chickens. Reason? The crowded environment in which they are kept, living in their own excrement, breeds disease.
- Feed: 40% of corn grown in the US is fed to livestock, 86% of that is Genetically Modified. See previous post http://wp.me/p5kff7-3f
- Soybean oil left over from the 59% of soybeans harvested to be crushed for oil are fed to livestock and 94% of soybeans are GM
- Research links heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers to heavy meat consumption.
If grains make them gain weight quickly, wouldn’t their meat contain a lot of calories and fat? Think about it.
So What Do You Do Then?
The good news is – consumers are becoming much more aware of the foods they choose. Many farmers are taking notice and going back to basics and choosing to follow Organic Practices. Even though it takes two years to take their cattle to slaughter, they offer “Grass Fed Beef”. What does that mean?
- Cattle raised in pastures are fed fresh grasses, legumes, and other plants, that aren’t sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.
- No antibiotics, hormones or steroids!
- Less fat = approx. 100 less calories per 6-ounce steak = 14,400 less calories in a year! Think of the pounds lost in that year!
- 2-3 times more Omega 3’s. Yeah the stuff that’s GOOD for your heart!
What About Protein?
I do eat eggs, because I feel I need the protein. (But after researching for this article, I may reconsider). One can obtain as much protein from a vegetarian diet as from a non-vegetarian diet, and plant proteins are easily assimilated by the body while they also provide several anti-oxidants and phyto-chemicals which help boost the immunity. The average person needs about 25% of daily calories in protein. That’s about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. Some good choices are:
- Legumes – 1 cup = about 25-30 grams of protein, lentils, red beans, kidney beans, Lima beans and black beans.
- Nuts – 20 nuts = approx. 25 grams of protein, walnuts, almonds, pistachio and Brazil to name a few.
- Dairy – cheese, yogurt and milk – about 8-25 grams, but make sure they are Organic and not filled with hormones (steroids) and antibiotics. They are from cows after all. A great milk alternative is Organic Almond Milk. Not so big on protein, but 45% daily allowance of calcium!
- Ancient grains – 1 cup = 6-9 grams of protein, amaranth, bulger, and quinoa
- Protein powders – 15- 25 grams of protein. Whey is best, I would stay away from soy proteins in any form, soy is a phyto-estrogen and too much estrogen, (hormone replacement therapy?) have been thought to have involvement is certain cancers; breast, endometrial, and uterine. Prostate and breast cancer in men, yes, men. Beware of meat substitutes made from soy.
Have I Got You Thinking?
Should you choose to go vegetarian for ethical or health reasons, there are tons of books, magazines, websites, and even cooking shows where you can find great tasting recipes. Get some ideas here
Start by cutting back on meat from daily to every other day to, every third day to, well you get the gist. You should feel better, lose weight and believe it or not have more energy. Did I mention you will save money? Meat is expensive! It’s a good idea no matter if carnivore, omnivore or herbivore to take a high quality vitamin/mineral/whole food supplement. Our foods are just not as nutritious as they once were, due to over use of the land they are grown on.