Vegetarians are increasing in number. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group that number has increased substantially over the last fifteen years. In 1994, a poll determined that 1% of the US population, approximately 2 million, was vegetarian. Fifteen years later in 2009 the number had risen to 3%, upwards of 8 million American vegetarians. This is a significant increase. Why are so many Americans making the switch?
In Jeffrey Masson’s book “The Face on Your Plate” he states that there are usually three reasons why people become vegetarian.
1. Personal Health
2. Animal Health
3. Planet Health
Personal health concerns. The 2009 position statement of the American Dietetic Association supports vegetarian diets, stating that properly planned vegetarian diets can be healthful and help in the prevention and treatment of disease. Vegetarian diets are associated with lower cholesterol, lower rates of hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. With the ever increasing waistline of Americans, vegetarian diets may be just what the doctor ordered.
Animal health is also of concern. In his book “Eating Animals”, Jonathan Foer explains how pigs prior to slaughter will commonly have heart attacks or become frozen, unable to move. The amount of stress is likely to blame. The grim environment, rough handling and scent of blood would induce stress on any living being.
Lastly, people are becoming more aware of the fragility of the environment. In the United States agricultural runoff is the leading source of pollution to our rivers and lakes. Most of this runoff can be attributed to raising animals for slaughter. Factory farms produce a whopping 87,000 pounds of waste per second.
These three reasons for becoming vegetarian aren’t going away anytime soon. As more and more people become aware of and concerned about their own health, animal welfare and the environment the number of vegetarians will likely continue to rise. A good thing for all three.