Where’s the tofu?

Ellen Gustavson/Editor-in-Chief

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

You know who said that? Albert Einstein. Yep. That whole E = mc2 thing? So not genius. I’ll let you in on the scientific community’s best-kept secret: Einstein’s true genius was not his Theory of Relativity, but his insight towards the benefits of vegetarianism. I may or may not be kidding.

One thing is for sure though: Americans love meat. It’s what makes America, well, ’Merica! Generally speaking, ’Mericans have absolutely no problem eating meat; few things in life can amount to the same kind of satisfaction that a delicious steak brings. However, for a whopping three percent of the country, the idea of digesting the flesh of a slaughtered animal brings nothing but paroxysms of revulsion.

Granted, killing animals was indeed the only way for humans to survive back in the Stone Age. But it’s safe to say that society has made some advances since then. We have become mainly gatherers, not hunters … unless you define hunting as pitching pre-packaged food into your cart at Walmart. Meat no longer serves as the base of our food pyramid — in fact, it no longer needs to be included in our food pyramid at all. In this day and age, the consumption of meat is more of a hindrance than a help.

True vegetarians cannot complete their quota of tree hug-age without making the argument that vegetarianism demonstrates a better use of resources: the amount of water needed to produce one pound of meat is hugely greater than the amount needed to produce a pound of wheat, while it requires 20 times more fossil fuel to produce meat than it does for plants such as soy. If I wanted, I could bore the pants off you with endless statistics about the environmental effects of meat production. But I won’t.

If logos just isn’t your cup of tea, we vegetarians can also resort to playing the save-the-children card, which no human being with a conscience can ignore. As the obesity issue in America grows, world hunger remains a pertinent issue for the rest of the world; this is not helped by the carnivorous diets of Americans. We produce more than enough grain to feed starving children in third-world countries, yet a great deal of that grain is used for, ahem, “producing” livestock. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by ten percent, there would be enough grain to feed an additional 60 million people. To put things in perspective, which seems worse: no meat, or death by starvation? Tough choice.

However, not everyone decides to become a tree-hugging, tofu-scrambling vegetarian because they are secretly advocates of PETA or because it’s the trendy, hipster-y thing to do.

Numerous health benefits are also high on the (extremely long) list of why people choose the vegetarian lifestyle. Research has proven many times that eliminating meat from one’s diet reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The conclusion? While you’re chowing down on that oh-so-delicious steak at Texas Roadhouse, your cholesterol is busy building you a personal Hoover Dam, right inside your arteries. So now do you think you’d ever give up meat?

I don’t care if you still say no.

I mean, let’s be realistic here. I am painfully aware that all you meat-lovers out there are not going to change your ways. Obviously, you love your meat and it’s not going anywhere — except in your stomachs. Only in a perfect world would everyone make the switch and make some beneficial sacrifices.

In fact, if everyone in the world woke up tomorrow and decided to stop eating meat, it would change the world. All the starving children would be fed, livestock would live long prosperous lives, and the arteries of every person in Texas would unclog.

The world is not perfect, though. Children die of starvation, livestock die in slaughterhouses, and Texans die of heart attacks. But if this somehow touches a nerve in some meat lover out there (unlikely), I’d like to let you know that you can do your part in saving the world by going vegetarian.

Apocalypse 2012 is coming, after all.

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