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How to Become a Vegetarian

Victor Parachin

 Begin gradually by switching your meat and vegetable portions. At first make meat your side dish and vegetables your main course. Then decide what kind of vegetarian diet you want to embrace:

• A vegan vegetarian consumes foods from plants: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts.
• A lacto vegetarian eats all the items that a vegan vegetarian does and adds cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products to their diet.
• A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats all the items that a vegan and lacto vegetarian does and also consumes eggs.
Get a hold of a bunch of tasty vegetarian recipes from the Internet, magazines, and cookbooks.
Don’t give it up. Sticking to a vegetarian diet offers benefits no matter how you approach it. So don’t worry about doing it wrong.
There are many famous vegetarians. For a long, alphabetical list of them, go to One of them, Carrie Underwood, said, “I stopped eating beef at 13 and stopped eating all meat a few years ago. I would feel guilty that what was on my plate was walking around yesterday. Either I could live with that or stop eating meat. I choose the latter, and I’m happier for it.”

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Go Green—Be Vegetarian!

by Victor Parachin

Being a vegetarian does more to reduce emissions than driving a hybrid car. And that’s not all . . .

 People of all ages have turned to a vegetarian diet to improve their health. Others have become vegetarians out of compassion for animals. Today an increasing number of scientists and social researchers are calling on people to consider a vegetarian diet for ecological reasons. Consider the following highlights from recent studies outlining ways that a vegetarian diet is good for the environment and eases the stress on our planet.

• Vegetarianism can decrease world hunger. Every year 20 million people die because of hunger and its effects. Though there are many interrelated reasons, such as war, famine, and food delivery, there’s a rather simple remedy to this tragedy. Within our country alone, if Americans reduced the amount of meat they consumed by just 10 percent, it would free up enough land to grow 12 million tons of grain. That’s enough to save the lives of millions of children and adults starving to death each year.
This issue is about land productivity. One acre of land can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes or 250 pounds of beef. The hundreds of pounds of beef will feed a few, while the thousands of pounds of potatoes will feed many. Did you know that 80 percent of the corn and 95 percent of the oats grown in the U.S. is eaten by livestock? Instead of feeding livestock, these grains could also feed a lot of hungry people around the world.
It’s a sad fact that 56 percent of all U.S. farmland is devoted to beef production. To produce each pound of beef requires 16 pounds of edible grain and soybeans, all of which could be used to feed the hungry.
• Vegetarianism preserves water supplies. Animal production requires huge amounts of water compared to agricultural production. Half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S. is for livestock production. The water needed to develop one cow is sufficient to float a naval destroyer! Studies show that one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water. Yet one pound of soy requires only 250 gallons, while a pound of wheat needs only 25 gallons.
The water used to produce just one hamburger would permit an individual to take a  lengthy shower every day for two and a half weeks. Animal production consumes an amount of water roughly equivalent to all other uses of water in the United States combined.
• Vegetarianism reduces rain forest depletion. To meet the demand of meat eaters in this country, the U.S. imports 200 million pounds of beef from Central America every year. Providing the necessary feed for these animals means clear-cutting forests and rain forests.
A Smithsonian study estimates that the need for more grazing land means that every minute of every day a land area equivalent to seven football fields is destroyed in the Amazon basin. For each hamburger originating from animals raised on rain forest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest has been destroyed. Along with rain forest depletion, 1000 species are eliminated or threatened due to the destruction of their habitat.
In effect, countries are being drained of their resources to put meat on the table of the average American, while 75 percent of all Central American children under the age of 5 are undernourished. And it’s not just the rain forests that are affected. In the United States more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture.
• Vegetarianism lessens dependence on fossil fuels. The production of just one calorie of animal protein requires more than 10 times the fossil fuel (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) input than a single calorie of plant protein. Animal agriculture requires massive amounts of fossil fuel consumption, because each animal eventually slaughtered must first be fed grains, soy, and other crops. Producing these crops requires energy consumption. In turn, this feed must be harvested and transported to feedlots. From the feedlots animals are then transported to a slaughterhouse. Then their carcasses are trucked in refrigerated vehicles—another energy consumption source—to a processing plant. Finally, the meat is transported to grocery outlets.
The next time you’re driving on a highway, observe how many semis on the road are transporting food for animals or the animals themselves. Adopting a vegetarian diet actually does more to reduce vehicle emissions than driving a hybrid car. With the fossil fuel energy required to produce a single hamburger, you could drive a small car 20 miles.
• Vegetarianism eases water pollution. Livestock production is a big drain on the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources. Animal production actually leads directly to water pollution thanks to animal waste, antibiotics used to treat animals, the hormones fed to animals, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers, and pesticides used to spray feed crops getting into the water supply. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) American agriculture is the main source of water pollution. The EPA reports that between 35 and 45 percent of America’s rivers and lakes are classified as polluted.
What does the Bible say about vegetarianism? Unlike the religions of the East—Hindism, Buddhism, and Jainism—which require followers to be vegetarian, the Bible is ambiguous. Certainly people cited in the Bible ate meat. Yet God, in the first book of the Bible, suggested a vegetarian diet. Genesis 1:29, 30 says: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so” (NIV).*
This account in Genesis ought to nudge more Christians to take a second look at vegetarianism. If more Christians adopted a vegetarian diet, not only would their health improve, it would help to heal the planet and everything on it.
With today’s environment and ecological issues stressing the planet, people are having second thoughts about the cars they drive. Perhaps they should be having second thoughts about what they eat, too.
*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Victor Parachin writes from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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