Essay about Beef...and Why It Shouldn't Be What's for Dinner

5062 Words Jun 11th, 2013 21 Pages
Until recently, vegetarianism has remained ostracized at the outskirts of our society, associated in collective public opinion almost exclusively with radical animal rights activists and "left-wing political attitudes" (Lund). In recent years, however, the practice of abstaining from meat consumption has taken on new life, fueled by new evidence of its health benefits and a changing moral landscape that is gradually expanding to include the rights of animals with those of humans. In spite of its rapid growth, the vegetarian philosophy remains a largely controversial subject for many Americans. Its almost sudden appearance in the mainstream leaves many avid meat-eaters questioning the validity of its lauded benefits and struggling to defend …show more content…
As a result, an omnivorous diet burns the equivalent of a gallon of gas a day, while a vegan diet uses only about half that amount (Corliss). Ironically, the industry also wastes massive amounts of food. The amount of grain consumed by America's livestock - about five times the grain consumed by humans in the U.S. - could feed 800 million people (Corliss). Jean Mayer, a nutritionist at Harvard, estimates that a reduction in meat consumption by the American people by just ten percent would produce enough grain to feed 60 million people (Motavelli), and former Environmental Minister of India Maneka Gandhi is quoted as saying, "Were all of [the grain fed to livestock] consumed directly by humans, it would nourish five times as many people as it does after being converted into meat, milk and eggs" (qtd. in Hurley 40). The problem is exacerbated by the fact that meat production is such an inefficient use of land: while a ten-acre farm could support 60 people growing soybeans or 24 people growing wheat, the same ten acres could support only two people raising cattle (Motavelli). The case against eating meat is also strengthened by the plethora of scientific evidence behind the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The premise that vegetarian diets are nutritionally lacking is a common misconception; however, the
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