Beyond vegetarian health benefits

In our society, we often only seriously consider an event if it directly affects ourselves or our loved ones. It is the “what’s in it for us” mentality. I find this attitude deeply troubling, especially in a society where the populace claims to be guided by morals. Vegetarianism, for many, is a moral choice, but often it’s considered as a way to enhance personal health rather than an extension of moral choices.

There’s no doubt vegetarianism is a great way to enhance personal health. As a vegetarian myself, I feel great eating a diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains.

However, this isn’t the reason I became a vegetarian. Although it seems like a great idea to promote vegetarianism on the basis of health – especially now, when most of America is overweight and looking for ways to live longer – health is a benefit, not a reason. I promote vegetarianism because its effects extend to the environment and animals.

As creatures who pride ourselves on our progress and superior intellect, it is our duty to act as stewards for the environment. Eating fewer animal products or being vegetarian is effective in helping protect the earth and its natural resources. The process of mass-producing animals for meat is inefficient and contributes to air and water pollution, extinction of other species and their habitats, and the creation of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.

More importantly, vegetarianism prevents animal cruelty and needless slaughter. As a pacifist, it became apparent that my beliefs about violence must extend to all parts of my life, including my diet. Animals experience happiness, frustration and suffering. If pets have the ability to suffer as we do, then so must farm animals used to satisfy humanity’s meat cravings. If our pets were shoved into spaces where they were unable to move freely or were denied care when sick, the perpetrators would be committing a felony. We should be treating animals that are just as intelligent and loving in the same manner as our pet cats or dogs.

I urge people not to think “what’s in it for me?” but to look beyond themselves to see that farm animals are suffering unnecessary cruelties and deaths. If anything, we should know that the benefit of vegetarianism has to do with more than the health of an individual – it is extending the compassion that we have to all living beings.

Chance McMahon is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]