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Why Do Some People Become Vegetarian?

There are many different reasons to reduce or eliminate meat consumption, and there is a lot of diversity in our group as a result. The group has heard many reasons over the years and thought it would be fun to capture the information in one place because it's so interesting. Here are some of them.

* Health

There is quite a lot of evidence showing that following a healthy vegetarian diet greatly reduces the chances of contracting a lot of the diseases that plague our modern society. Some people, such as those with heart disease, high cholesterol, prostate cancer, or diabetes, are placed on a vegetarian or vegan diet to improve their condition. One longtime study, outlined in the bestseller book The China Study, backs up the benefits of a vegetarian diet. The book Becoming Vegetarian outlines the results of longterm studies comparing veg and meat-eater diets, and was written by a chair in the American Dietetic Association; it's an excellent nutrition book for vegetarians (a must-read) and is interesting even if you do eat meat.

Vegetarian Diets Can Help Prevent Chronic Diseases, American Dietetic Association Says

The China Study

Becoming Vegetarian

* Environmentalism and Global Warming

Eating a vegetarian diet dramatically reduces each person's carbon footprint. Raising livestock can cause huge pollution and deforestation issues as well.

Vegetarian is the New Prius

UN Report: Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options
"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said. "Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."

Another Reason to Eat Less Meat

America's Animal Factories
How States Fail to Prevent Pollution from Livestock Waste

Vegan Mini-Farming to Grow Food Efficiently and Much More Environmentally

* Empathy for Domestic Animals and Wildlife

Some members have personal experiences with farm animals, such as living on a farm, that has caused them to not want to kill or eat them. As domestic animals, some consider them to be no different than dogs or cats in their relationship to humans. One vegetarian told me a story of a group living on an island (I think they were doing research) who grew their own food. They made the rule that if you wanted to eat meat, you had to raise and kill the animal yourself. Most people became vegetarian. Further, raising animals for food can mean that all predators in that area are trapped and killed, or wildlife is displaced. Because most of our farm land and water is used to provide food for livestock, and cultivation causes wildlife to lose habitat and food or to be killed outright, a vegetarian diet is gentler on wild animals as well.

Predator-Friendly Certification

Organic Farming & Ranching: Conserving the Land & Wildlife for Future Generations

Farming With the Wild

Fish Friendly Farming Certification

Salmon Safe Certification

* Animal Welfare

Some people believe that in a civilized society, it is unacceptable to rear food animals in a way that amounts to torture. Considering that people don't need to eat animal products to survive, they believe that there is no need to do this to animals in the name of cheap animal products, especially those that might cause various health issues.

Factory Farming

Hy-Line investigates alleged abuses

* Spirituality and Morality

Some religions include vegetarianism in their belief system. Some of our members don't follow a particular tradition, but consider themselves to be spiritual (and some agnostic or atheist), and they cite an awe and respect for the miracle of life that causes them to not want to consume higher life forms who feel emotion and have a flight response (unlike living creatures who can't move), so they experience terror. Some don't want to bring the energy of terror into their bodies, and consider meat to contain that energy. Some believe that an awe and respect for life is the basis from which all other moral behavior can be derived.

Buddhist Resources on Vegetarianism and Animal Welfare

Hinduism and Vegetarianism

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man."

Mahatma Gandhi
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals."

Why Vegan Priorities are Humanist Priorities

* Nonviolence and Peace

Some of our members are against all of the violence they see in our world and want to adopt a more peaceful lifestyle. They consider our treatment of animals to be an integral part of a more peaceful way of life. Some think that there is a fine line between violence toward animals and that toward people, and the former promotes the latter.

Vegetarianism: a nonviolent way of life

The Link Between Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence

* Feminism and Abuse of the "Powerless"

Some people believe that the same psychology used to subjugate women and children, or the "powerless," is used to justify the mistreatment of animals. "Might makes right." So they reject that way of thinking.

The Sexual Politics of Meat

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil


* Voluntary Simplicity and Cost-Cutting

Animal products that give the animal a good life are very expensive. It's pretty cheap to eat low on the food chain. Some vegan groups provide free meals to the hungry.

Vegan Eatin' on a Budget

Low-Cost Vegan Meal Plans ($5 a day)

Eating greens 'makes you greener'

Vegan on a Shoestring

* World Hunger

People crunched the numbers, and discovered that if we diverted all food that went to feed livestock to instead feed people, there would be no more world hunger:


Meat Means Misery for the World's Hungry

Frances Moore Lappe
Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet

John Jeavons

Food for Life

In light of this work, organizations like Heifer International and Oxfam are puzzling to some of us, as they send farm animals to countries with no animal welfare standards and are perhaps contributing to hunger, environmental destruction, and global warming by doing so. (Sadly, some of the people in these countries still practice ritual animal sacrifice.)

* Contagious Disease, Antibiotic Resistance, Pesticide/Heavy Metal/Toxin Concentration

Eating high on the food chain means that certain pesticides, heavy metals, and toxins can accumulate within the animal, which we then ingest in much higher proportions than we would if we ate no animal products. There is a great deal of evidence that certain industrialized farming practices have created and spread "super-pathogens," which can then infect people and wildlife. The overuse of antibiotics, particularly as a preventative measure rather than to cure a disease, was warned as a dangerous practice by the inventor of antibiotics because it allows the pathogens to rapidly adapt and renders the antibiotic ineffective. Unfortunately, for years livestock was fed just that. Some people believe that since these practices have gone on for a long time before anyone noticed, and wonder what else is going on that we don't yet know about, the trust is gone and they don't want to consume animal products anymore.

Antibiotic and Pesticide Concerns in Meat

Bird Flu Book

Mad Cow

Study Shows Drugs Given to Chickens Expose Consumers to Arsenic & Cancer

E. coli O157 Comes Back with a Vengeance, and Other Nasty Toxins in Meat

E. Coli from Livestock Runoff Pervades Spinach Harvest Area in Central California

Mammalian Bone Meal Prohibited as Fertilizer Due to Mad Cow

NRDC: Mercury Contamination in Fish

Food grown in sewage sludge

Swine Flu is Related to Virus Born on U.S. Hog Factories in 1998

Eating animals is making us sick

Probably, most of the people in the group are veg or mostly veg primarily for health reasons, or because they don't want to eat animals. Some people like the "30-day trial concept" when they try out a new diet:


Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Earth Day 2012 June 7, 2013 7:06 PM anonymous
350 Global Warming Handout July 1, 2013 7:16 PM anonymous
Why Do Some People Become Vegetarian? May 30, 2013 10:18 AM anonymous
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint through Diet October 21, 2009 5:21 PM anonymous
About Vegetarian Meetup Group of Santa Cruz December 13, 2016 3:52 AM anonymous

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