Animal Aid

National Vegetarian Week

Posted 15 May 2008

19th-25th May is National Vegetarian Week - an annual initiative that encourages people to find out more about the many benefits of a meat-free diet. With veggie alternatives available in high street shops and supermarkets, it really is easy and one of the most important steps you can take towards helping animals, the planet and boosting your health.

One individual can consume as many as 5000 animals in his or her lifetime and most of these will have been reared in crowded, disease-ridden intensive farms. But whether factory farmed, free-range or organic, after a short and wretched life, all farmed animals face a terrifying slaughterhouse death. Each fish, cow, lamb, pig and chicken is a sentient being capable of experiencing pain, fear and discomfort, in the same way as any cat or dog.

Not only will you be helping to save the lives of thousands of animals, but going meat-free is much healthier for you too. Two of the most detailed comparisons of the health of vegetarians and meat-eaters (The Oxford Study and The China Study) concluded that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from various cancers, diabetes, heart disease and obesity - and therefore, have a longer life expectancy.

Switching to a vegetarian diet will also reduce your impact on the environment, as animal farming uses much more land, energy and water than plant-based agriculture. Farmed animals are the main source of methane - one of the major greenhouse gases. Large quantities of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are also produced from the transportation of farm supplies, animal feed and farmed animals themselves. Heat and electricity used by farms and slaughterhouses further increase energy demand. Overall, animal farming is responsible for a larger share of the world’s greenhouse gases than that of the transport sector.

Plant-based agriculture is far more efficient. It uses less than a quarter of the land required for a meat-based diet as the crops are fed directly to humans and, therefore, uses fewer resources. Even the most water-intensive plant-based crop uses far less water then the most water efficient form of animal agriculture.

So why not give vegetarianism a go? It's not only easy, but essential if you are concerned with animal welfare, your health, or protecting the planet.

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