National Vegetarian Week: 5 ethical reasons to stop eating meat

If you wouldn't eat a dog, you shouldn't eat a hog, argues Mimi Bekhechi from Peta

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Indy Lifestyle Online

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

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The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories. On today's factory farms, animals can be kept in cramped, cruel and oppressive conditions, many animals will never be permitted to raise families, build nests or do anything else natural and important to them. Some won't even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they're loaded onto lorries bound for slaughter.

Helping animals also helps the global poor

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With hundreds of millions of hungry people worldwide, it is criminally wasteful to grow crops to feed animals raised for meat rather than growing food for people – especially when you consider that it takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make just 1 pound of chicken meat. This is inefficiency at its worst.

Animal agriculture is disastrous for the environment

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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

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A man repeatedly beats a cow with a rod

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

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Roasted dogs at Tomohon Market in Indonesia

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

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