Reasons for Being Vegetarian Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends. George Bernard Shaw Vegetarianism used to be an unusual lifestyle choice. Today it is becoming more common and accepted by mainstream society. While there are many reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet, the most important are health reasons, environmental and economic reasons, and, above all, ethical reasons. Health reasons alone are sufficient grounds for becoming a vegetarian.

Research has shown that we do not require meat in our diets and that it is actually healthier to avoid meat. Meat is high in saturated fats which are known to cause clogged arteries Cultures that consume less meat than North America have much lower cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease. For example, Japan used to have a lower incidence of heart disease, as well as cancer, before meat consumption increased. There is also reason to believe that humans have naturally evolved to be herbivores, rather than carnivores.

Human teeth resemble the teeth of other herbivores, and human intestinal tracts are long, unlike the short intestines found in carnivores. What is natural is usually healthier, and people who become vegetarians frequently report a feeling of increased energy and well being. There are also environmental and economic reasons for becoming vegetarian. Some people are not aware of these reasons, but a lot of environmental destruction is linked to meat production, especially cattle farming. Huge areas of forest are clear-cut in order to make grazing land for cows. The destruction of rainforest's in South America is directly linked to our appetite for hamburgers.

Economically, vegetarianism also has surprising advantages. Meat is inefficient because the energy we can get from meat is only a small fraction of the energy found in the plants used to feed the animals. If more people turned to a vegetarian diet, a lot more food would be available for the world's population. In fact, if we all adopted a vegetarian diet, there would be no hunger in the world. Most importantly, we should be vegetarian for ethical reasons. Many people have ethical problems with the killing of animals for food, especially because this killing is not absolutely necessary.

But even many of those who never think about this killing would feel compassion for animals if they were faced with killing these animals themselves. Besides the cruelty involved in the death of animals, there is even more cruelty involved in their lives. In our factory farms chickens never see the light day, have there beaks cut off, and are forced to eat food containing their own excrement. Baby cows that are destined to become veal are forced to spend their whole lives chained to stables so small that the animals cannot turn around. In order to make their meat tender they are feed a low-iron diet. This artificial diet leads to joint problems, which cause the animals to be in constant agony.

Such cruelty is not justifiable, and by becoming a vegetarian each individual can make a small difference. The health, economic and environmental, and ethical reasons for becoming vegetarian are overwhelmingly strong. This is why many famous minds in history, from Ghandi to George Bernard Shaw, have been vegetarians. As we enter the twenty-first century, we cannot ignore the reasons for being vegetarian..