About Newsroom Classroom Search  

Vegetarianism: To Meat or Not to Meat?
By Holly M., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

To kill an innocent animal and slap it on a plate is something that just does not appeal to me.

More and more people are choosing a meat free diet. And why not? It is ethical and moral. It can be just as healthy and delicious, if not more so, that a diet which includes meat.

In factory farms, or slaughterhouses, animals are being treated like machines. These factories are usually very dark, poorly ventilated, overcrowded and full of disease. The owners are not interested in the welfare of these animals, but rather how much money they can make. When you think of a cow you probably think of a calm, peaceful animal that wanders around a green field all day. And when you think of a chicken you might think about their aimless clucking and pecking around a barnyard. These are not the cases. For many beef cattle and chickens their days are spent in a dirty, overcrowded feedlot. The animals are transferred to the feedlots by huge trucks. These trucks are very cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer, so many animals die on their way to the lots. They are injected with hormones, antibiotics and chemicals. These drugs cause the animals to gain weight at a rapid pace, become resistant to disease and maybe even survive the inhumane conditions of the feedlot until they are slaughtered. In chicken factories, chickens which normally have a life expectancy of about 15 to 20 years usually live no more than 2 months. By choosing a vegetarian diet people are helping to make some seriously needed changes in the modern food industry.

And now the question we veggies have heard many times: do vegetarians really get enough protein? If they eat the proper foods then the answer is yes. The amount of protein we actually need is very small, and the majority of North Americans get way too much of it. So with all the fuss over not getting enough protein, maybe we should worry about getting too much of it. "It appears that once the body has all the protein it needs, the excess protein begins to feed precancerous lesions and tumours" - Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Tofu and soy products are very high in protein and low in fat. Another common health myth is that vegetarians don't get enough iron. Red meat is North America's most popular source of iron, so one can easily see why this is such a concern. Dried peaches, nuts, beans, asparagus, oatmeal, and broccoli are just some of the vegetarian options for obtaining a healthy iron intake.

A few years ago, vegetarianism was frowned upon and discouraged by society. A vegetarian dish was almost unheard of in a restaurant, but today even huge fast food franchises such as Burger King and McDonald's are selling veggie burgers. Vegetarian cookbooks, magazines and websites are popping up all over the place as the world learns the benefits of this lifestyle. Being a veggie in a meat-eating world may not be a piece of cake (dairy-free cake of course), but it sure is getting easier.


Back to Front Page