Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Evidence Vegetarian Philosophies Fall Short on Environmental and Health Concerns

Many people say vegetable-based diets are more friendly to the environment, and that it requires more land and resources to grow feed for animals slaughtered for meat. But those viewpoints don't take into consideration the problem at the heart of the matter - which is that factory-farm operations use astronomical amounts of grain, soy, and corn to feed their animals (many of these crops are also genetically-altered and allow use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals).

These animals are not designed to digest these substances in the first place, as they are ruminants. As a result of eating these grains, the cattle develop diseases and conditions which then require farmers to administer antibiotics and medications. Animals who live on these farms also stand in waste lagoons - which accounts for the horrendous odor when you drive by such an operation. Of course, this entire cycle of raising animals is unhealthy and is devastating to the environment.

Sustainable farms should be the exception, not the rule. Sustainable-raised meat and dairy products are healthy to consume and maintain the land in a eco-friendly manner. It is important to realize the cascading effect factory farming has had on so many aspects of everyday life - socioeconomic, political, environmental, health, animal welfare, food irradiation - and that this is the enemy we need to stamp out, not smaller, sustainable, family-owned and operated farms living in harmony with nature. But these farms need your support, otherwise they will continue to be stamped out by factory-farm outfits.

Here's a disturbing thought, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, the foods you purchase will actually help to sustain the factory-farm way of existence because vegetarians and vegans, in their effort to avoid meat, consume mass amounts of grain, corn, and soy - the very crops which are also used to feed conventionally-raised animals. And that's about as unhealthy and un-eco-friendly as it gets!

Can you trust every farm label that says "sustainable-raised" or "grass-fed"? No. Currently no regulations exist for these labels, so buying local and getting to know the practices of the farms you purchase meat from is of paramount importance. In general, people who eat truly grass-fed meat should be able to decrease the portions they consume because the meat is higher in protein and lower in calories and carbohydrates. This is the key because factory meat is considered obese and is the opposite in composition from grass-fed. It is high in carbohydrates because the animal has been fed a high-carbohydrate diet with little nutrients in it. The meat is also much more fatty and lower in protein . In contrast to sustainable-raised animals, factory farm animals lead a sedentary life and are effectively "fattened up" on soy, corn, and grains that makes them sick. Because such massive amounts of this food must be grown on millions of acres of farmland, even more land is destroyed to enable factory farms to continue operation. Lands used for sustainable farms are just that - grasslands which are properly cultivated, maintained, and fertilized naturally.

It takes more land and resources to feed farm animals the very foods that make them sick in the first place, so doesn't it make sense to change the model of farms to a sustainable-method? The time has come to start educating about the real issues at hand - not that meat is unhealthy to consume, but that factory and commercial-farmed meat and dairy is massively harmful to both human health and the environment. Stand up and take action! The more we know about these important steps to take, the more we can improve our health and stop putting toxic waste into our precious earth.

For more information about putting an end to factory and commercial farm damage, visit Farms Without Harm.

Also, visit 10 ways you can help fight factory farms on the ASPCA site.

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