The arguments for leaving animals off our plates have never been stronger – and the availability of vegetarian food has never been greater. There are so many reasons to have a meat-free diet (truth be told, it was tough to pick just five!).
Eating meat supports cruelty to animals
Helping animals also helps the global poor
Animal agriculture is disastrous for the environment
Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, energy and water. A United Nations report found that eating meat is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global". So, while using energy-efficient light bulbs and choosing hybrid cars are good steps, removing meat from our diets is the single best thing – by far – we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.
Killing animals promotes violence, not global peace
Leo Tolstoy claimed that "vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism". His point? People who wish to sow the seeds of peace should be eating as peaceful a diet as possible. Eating meat supports the killing of animals for no reason other than to satisfy humans' acquired taste for animal flesh. The great humanitarians Mahatma Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh have argued that a vegetarian diet is the only diet for people who want to make the world a kinder place.
If you wouldn't eat a dog, you shouldn't eat a hog
If we're horrified at the thought of stuffing Fido and Fluffy and roasting them, we should feel equally disgusted at the sight of a hog roast. After all, pigs are just as loving, intelligent and capable of suffering as our canine companions are. Paul McCartney summed it up perfectly when he said, "Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty".
Check out PETA.org.uk/vsk to order your free vegan starter kit. Mimi Bekhechi is Director at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals