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More Reasons To Be A Vegetarian
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Reprinted from The New York Times, June 20, 1989
All figures from the 1980's

World Hunger

Number of people worldwide who will die of starvation this year: 60 million
Number of people who could be adequately fed with the grain saved if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 60 million
Human beings in America: 243 million
Number of people who could be fed with grain and soybeans now eaten by U.S. livestock: 1.3 billion
Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by people: 20
Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 80
Percentage of oats grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 95
Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 99
How frequently a child starves to death: every 2 seconds
Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on an acre: 20,000
Pounds of beef produced on an acre: 165
Percentage of U.S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56
Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of beef: 16


Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
Fossil fuels needed to produce a meat-centered diet vs. a meat free diet: 50 times more.
Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
Amount of meat U.S. imports annually from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama: 200 million pounds.
Average per capita meat consumption in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama: less than eaten by average U.S. house cat.
Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound hamburger: 55 sq ft.
Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year.
Also cattle contribute to global warming by being one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide and methane gases.


Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat 4 times a week vs. less than once a week: 4 times.
For women who eat eggs daily vs. less than once a week: 3 times
Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week vs. less than once a week: 3 times.
Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who eat meat daily vs. sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times.

Natural Resources

Use of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: Livestock portion
Amount of water used in production of the average steer: sufficient to float a destroyer.
Gallons to produce a pound of wheat: 25
Gallons to produce a pound of meat: 2,500
Cost of common hamburger if water used by meat industry not subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer: $35 a pound.
Current cost of pound of protein from beefsteak if water was no longer subsidized: $89
Years the world's known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet: 13
Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260.
Barrels of oil imported into the U.S. daily: 6.8 million.
Percentage of fossil fuel returned as food energy by most efficient factory farming of meat: 34.5
Percentage from least efficient plant food: 32.8
Percentage of raw materials consumed by U.S. to produce present meat-centered diet: 33


Number of U.S. medical schools: 125
Number requiring a course in nutrition: 30
Nutrition training received by average U.S. physician during four years in medical school: 25 hours
Most common cause of death in U.S.: heart attack
How frequently a heart attack kills in U.S.: every 45 seconds.
Average U.S. man's risk of death from heart attack: 50%
Risk for average U.S. man who avoids the meat-centered diet: 15%
Meat industry claims you should not be concerned about your blood cholesterol if it is: "normal"
Your risk of dying of a disease caused by clogged arteries if your blood cholesterol is "normal": 50%


Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13
Percentage resistant in 1988: 91
Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: ban
Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support


Percentage of pesticide residues in the U.S. diet supplied by grains: 1
Percentage of pesticide residues in the U.S. diet supplied by fruits: 4
Percentage of pesticide residues in the U.S. diet supplied by dairy products: 23
Percentage of pesticide residues in the U.S. diet supplied by meat: 55
Pesticide contamination of breast milk from meat-eating mothers vs. non-meat eating: 35 times higher
What USDA tells us: meat is inspected
Percentage of slaughtered animals inspected for residues of toxins and chemicals including dioxin and DDT: less than 0.00004


Number of animals killed for meat per hour in the U.S.: 500,000
Occupation with highest turnover rate in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker
Occupation with the highest rate of on-the-job injury in the U.S.: slaughterhouse worker
Cost to render animal unconscious with "captive bolt pistol" before slaughter: 1 cent
Reason given by meat industry for not using "captive bolt pistol": too expensive.


Athlete to win Ironman Triathlon more than twice: Dave Scott (6 time winner)
Food choices of Dave Scott: Vegetarian
Largest meat eater that ever lived: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Last sighting of T-Rex: 100,000,000 B.C.

Let me know what you think. . .

Ben Le 本勒師
Bernard Nel

"Infinite Light
Be my delight
Shine on me
An ordinary"


David Crofts Munro said...

The statisics presented certainly provide food for thought. I gather that, being from the 1980's, the figures have only increased since then?

Shocking really.

I admit that I am not currently vegetarian. As my life progresses, I seem to become more and more so, but meat still plays a part in my regular diet.

I shall not waste any otherwise productive time entertaining regret or shame, but I confess also to a certain pang of guilty intrigue any time I really let the notion sweep over me.

Thanks for shedding a new light on the situation.


Blaize said...

Extra info for anyone who wants to read further -

"To cherish all life" by Roshi Phillip Kapleau, of "the three pillars of Zen" fame.