Saturday, July 24, 2010

Either stand for something or you'll fall for anything

Many people may not know this about me but I don't particularly care for conflict. That is why I love writing so much. I get to say how I feel and if someone doesn't like it, they can just stop reading. Well, the other night in the car my husband and I got in to a heated discussion. The discussion was actually about a friend of his who made a comment to me not long ago that I didn't agree with (and let it be known.) To make a long story short it was about a story I heard while watching Food Inc. about a young child who died from E. coli which was found in spinach he had eaten. There are all kinds of theories, related to the meat industry, of how veggies like spinach are suddenly being contaminated but I won't go in to that right now. The mother of the child in this story is now a food safety advocate. As a mother myself, I know that I can't do everything to protect my child. But, with that being said, I know that if God forbid something like that were to happen to me, the only thing that would give me peace would be knowing I did and would continue to do everything possible to keep this from happening to another child's family. With that being said, our heated debate was about standing for something. Basically the point I tried to get across was that I am not saying that I am right or wrong in my thinking, BUT I am doing what I believe could make a difference in my daughters future. I believe that even if I am only one person, I CAN make a difference. I can't stand the mentality of, 'well I can't make much of a difference by myself so I will turn a blind eye and pretend like the things that are happening in this world aren't really happening.' That is of course until it hits close to home and I have no choice but to recognize it. I can't be that person and I don't think anyone should. True, one person alone can't change everything but look how far we've come already.

Those who know me personally know that I don't go around all day preaching my beliefs about the environment and food safety or lack thereof. I do however talk about what I am cooking, what I am eating and what I am doing. You'd be amazed how many times I go out to eat with a group, whether it be co-workers, friends or even family and I order something "meatless" from the menu and the conversation suddenly turns to the over consumption of meat in the U.S. I can't tell you how many people have said to me that they too have wanted to cut back on their meat consumption but needed a push or maybe even some ideas on how to get started. When I walk out of that restaurant, I know that I have made a difference. I don't expect the world someday to be full of vegetarians. I do however want to encourage the people I love to make better choices for themselves and their families. To be more aware of where their food came from, how it was processed and what types of "unthinkables" it has been subjected to, like chemicals and added hormones. I do want to encourage people to cut back on their meat. Start with one meal a week, then one day a week and see where it takes you. Start exploring new options and you'll be surprised at how many tasty meat free choices there are out there. But, most importantly, share this thinking with the people around you. That, my friend, is how one person can change the world. By sharing what you believe in and standing for something.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

vegetarian 101

I found this great article in a blog that I am following called "Veggie Love Planet" which totally sums up my reasons for no longer eating meat. 

When it comes to vegetarianism, the number one question on most meat-eaters' minds is, "What do you eat?" The answer: Anything we want! There are vegetarian alternatives to almost any animal food, from soy sausages and "Fib Ribs" to Tofurky jerky and mock lobster. Vegetarian-friendly menus are sprouting up everywhere—even Burger King offers veggie burgers—and more and more eateries are focusing exclusively on vegetarian and vegan foods. There are fantastic alternatives to every dairy product you can imagine, including Soy Delicious ice cream, Silk chocolate soy milk, Tofutti cream cheese, and more.
Every year in the U.S., more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food. Raising Animals on factory farms is cruel and ecologically devastating. Eating Animals is bad for our health, leading directly to many diseases and illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. In response to animal welfare, health, and ecological concerns, compassionate people everywhere are adopting a vegetarian diet.

For Animals

Animals on factory farms are treated like meat, milk, and egg machines. Chickens have their sensitive beaks seared off with a hot blade, and male cattle and pigs are castrated without any painkillers. All farmed chickens, turkeys, and pigs spend their brief lives in dark and crowded warehouses, many of them so cramped that they can't even turn around or spread a single wing. They are mired in their own waste, and the stench of ammonia fills the air. Animals raised for food are bred and drugged to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible—many are so heavy that they become crippled under their own weight and die within inches of their water supply.
Animals on factory farms do not see the sun or get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. Many die during transport, and others are too sick or weak to walk off the truck after they reach the slaughterhouse. The animals who survive this hellish ordeal are hung upside-down and their throats are slit, often while they're completely conscious. Many are still alive while they are skinned, hacked into pieces, or scalded in the defeathering tanks. By switching to a vegetarian diet, you can save more than 100 animals a year from this misery.
One suggestion: If you plan to make the transition to a vegetarian diet gradually, the most important foods to cut out of your diet first are bird flesh and eggs. While many people think that “red meat” and dairy products should be the first to go, this isn’t the case. By cutting bird flesh from your diet, you’ll save many more animals. Because chickens are so small, the average meat-eater is responsible for the deaths of many more chickens than cows. Plus, chickens and turkeys exploited by the meat and egg industries are the most abused animals commonly used for food.

For Your Health

Some of the leading killers in America today, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and strokes, are directly linked to meat-based diets. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America today, and it is caused by the build-up of cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products in our arteries. The only two doctors in human history who have successfully reversed heart disease have included an exclusively vegetarian diet as a part of their programs. The average vegan cholesterol level is 133 (compared to 210 for meat-eaters); there are no documented cases of heart attacks in individuals with cholesterol under 150. Other health problems tied to clogged arteries, like poor circulation and atherosclerotic strokes, can be virtually eliminated with a vegan diet.
Vegans are approximately one-ninth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and have a cancer rate that is only 40 percent that of meat-eaters. People who consume animal products are also at increased risk for many other illnesses, including strokes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer's, multiple allergies, diabetes, and food poisoning.

For the Environment

America's meat addiction is poisoning and depleting our potable water, arable land, and clean air. More than half of the water used in the United States today goes to animal agriculture, and since farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population, the run-off from their waste is fouling our waterways. Animal excrement emits gases, such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, that poison the air around farms, as well as methane and nitrous oxide, which are major contributors to global warming. Forests are being bulldozed to make more room for factory farms and feed crops to feed farmed animals, and this destruction causes soil erosion and contributes to species extinction and habitat loss. Raising animals for food also requires massive amounts of food and raw materials: Farmed animals consume 70 percent of the corn, wheat, and other grains that we grow, and one-third of all the raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S. go to raising animals for food. In short, our country's meat addiction is wrecking the earth.