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The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

Value vegetarian views

One of the first principles my parents ever taught me was not to hurt animals. The implied statement was, don’t eat meat. At the time, I followed this guideline simply because it was a family rule. As time went on, though, I found this concept being reaffirmed by my own personal beliefs. The more I learn about vegetarianism, the more I realize how much of an impact it could have on the betterment of the world. The more I think about vegetarianism, the more I feel hurt by the people who don’t stop to consider the effects of eating meat. My most personal reason for being a vegetarian is both obvious and generic. It’s wrong to kill animals for our benefit. I find it selfish, completely unnecessary, and at the risk of sounding harsh, inhumane. While it is this viewpoint that has the largest influence on my choice, I accept that others feel differently. This argument is probably not one that I’ll ever win. Yet there are countless other solid reasons for becoming a vegetarian. According to “Nature’s First Law – the Raw Food Diet” by Arlin Dini Wolfeurrently, 70 percent of the grain produced in the U.S. goes toward feeding livestock. This grain could feed 1.4 billion people. This is rather ironic, as around 40,000 children die of starvation daily. At face level, this point seems easily refutable. If more people were vegetarians, more grain would go toward feeding those people. However, the truth is, 16 pounds of soybean and grain is needed to produce just one pound of beef. In addition, meat production acts as a significant burden on the environment. The Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 16 percent of methane emissions come from animal agriculture. Methane gas is one of the leading causes of global warming. Since 1960, 25 percent of the rainforests in Central America have been destructed in order to create beef cattle pastures. 55 square feet of tropical rainforest is used for every four-ounce of hamburger made from rainforest beef. Obviously, this results in the extinction of many species. Honestly, these statistics confuse me. Where are the environmentalists in this struggle? I suppose it’d be easy for the two previous arguments to appear distant and inconsequential. After all, it’s hard to picture starving children halfway across the world, which makes it difficult to accept that we could have an effect on them. But even if those two points are disregarded, the health benefits of being a vegetarian are enough to make it a worthwhile change. A vegetarian diet reduces the risks of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, as well as certain kinds of cancer. This is because it is substantially lower in saturated fats and cholesterol, yet abundant in vitamins C and E, as well as phytochemicals, which fight cancer. According to a Harvard University study, a diet that includes a regular intake of meat increases the chance of colon cancer by about 300 percent. Some choose to rebut these benefits by claiming that vegetarianism leads to protein deficiency. This is not correct, however, as most types of unrefined foods have large amounts of protein. Potatoes, for example, are made of 11 percent protein. I’ve been a vegetarian all of my life. I concede that for me to continue my normal lifestyle is a much simpler task than for a non-vegetarian to stop eating meat. Still, I have yet to hear a logical explanation for why a non-vegetarian lifestyle is the better choice. Really, managing a vegetarian diet seems a rather small inconvenience when considering the malnourished children, environmental factors, and health aspects that would benefit.

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