Vegetarianism improves health and protects
animals from cruelty

By Jena Cole
Cole Harbour High School
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Every year in the U. S alone, more than 8 billion animals are slaughtered.
That's more than 250 animals dying a second.

Vegetarianism is a popular choice today. Vegetarians avoid meat, fish and poultry. Those who include dairy products and eggs in their diet are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. Those who eat no meat nor animal by-products are called vegan. More and more youths and adults are choosing to go vegetarian a variety of reasons.

Vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels and a lower chance of developing heart disease than meat eaters. Cholesterol is found in only animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. Vegans consume a diet that is cholesterol free.


A vegetarian diet helps prevent cancer. Vegetarian diets help protect against cancer because they are lower in fat and higher in fiber than other diets. Studies of vegetarians show that their death rates from cancer are half that of the general population.

Breast cancer rates are dramatically lower in countries where diets are plant-based. When people of these countries adopt more western meat eating diets, the breast cancer rates soar. More directly than any other dietary factor, meat eating is closely linked to colon cancer. Vegetarians consume more beta-carotene that helps combat lung cancer. The natural sugars in dairy are linked to ovarian cancer. Vegans consume little to no of these sugars.

Some factors are not understood by doctors. For example researchers are not sure why vegetarians have more of a certain type of white blood cells, "natural killer cells" that attack and destroy cancerous cells.

Vegetarians are less likely to form gall stones and kidney stones. It is also uncommon for a vegetarian to develop osteoporosis because they eat little or no animal protein. Consuming a lot of animal protein encourages the loss of calcium from bones. Replacing animal proteins with plant ones reduces the amount of calcium lost.

Another lure of vegetarianism is that it is cruelty-free. Many people do not want to think that food has a face. Animals are our friends, we should love them. Instead we kill and eat them. If you knew how the cow that your burger was from was cruelly abused, as is very common in farms raising for food, would you still be able to eat it? Cows are beaten unnecessarily. Then they are slaughtered, while alive, without sedatives or pain killers. Pigs cruelly kicked and hit with iron prods. Chickens have their beaks seared off with hot irons at birth. This practice routinely removes their tongues and part of their faces. This is done because the hens so that the hens will not peck at and fight with each other. They are confined in groups to living spaces too small for a single hen. Up to six chickens are kept in these two-by-two cages.