Going Vegetarian is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family and your planet. This introductory page will provide you with motivations and resources to do so. Several other pages are in progress, particularly quotations and free food. Also, please feel free to post to the goVeg! forum should you want answers to specific questions or just a friend to help you in this transition.
A vegetarian doesn't consume any animal products such as meat, fish, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, sea foods, or even honey (a vegan is a vegetarian who has adopted a lifestyle avoiding animal products like wool, leather, silk). The 'veg' in vegetarian after all does represent vegetables, fruits and other plant-based foods. People who include dairy to an otherwise vegetarian diet consider themselves to be lacto vegetarians. Those who consume both dairy and eggs call themselves lacto-ovo vegetarians. Of course, by that reasoning those who eat everything other than red meat should fancy themselves to be lacto-ovo-pesco-polla-miele vegetarians.
The information here is given without any specific references though there are some websites are listed at the end of this page. We encourage readers to do their own research and thinking, for it is the only way to be truly convinced.
Health, Environment and Ethics are the three main arguments to goVeg!
goVeg! for Health
A vegetarian diet is recognized as not contributing to heart attack, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoporosis as well as a myriad of other diseases including diabetes, asthma and arthritis. Becoming vegetarian often reverses these conditions (a not-so-surprising fact when you consider that even diehard practioners of 'modern medicine' tell patients to avoid certain foods like red meat, unfortunately after the damage has been already done).
Why this is so, is very simple. Species homo sapiens is not designed to consume animal proteins. Our basic biology forbids it.
We do not have teeth for ripping and tearing as do real carnivores (eg cats) or omnivores (eg dogs), nor do we possess the short digestive tracts through which consumed flesh passes through quickly. Instead, humans have teeth that are suitable for grinding and a long digestive tract in which vegetable material can be processed (in fact, when meat winds up here it putrifies leading to a host of physical problems).
Our digestive system is not capable of properly breaking down large animal proteins which wind up in the blood stream resulting in protein antigeneity (the production of antibodies to attack the large proteins) leading to inflammatory conditions such as eczema, asthma and arthritis. Nor can it handle the high cholestrol fat that animal products contain leading to obesity and clogged arteries resulting in heart problems. When an autopsy is done of a heart attack victim one can pull out the cylinders of fat that constricted blood flow. Never, ever has it been found that the flow of blood was stopped by pieces of apples, brocoli or tofu!
Even our psychology isn't designed for an animal consumptive lifestyle: when you see a rabbit do you think 'how cute!' or do you start salivating?
"But where will I get my protein?" is a concern that often arises. The human body's protein requirements are easily met through a vegetarian diet - there is no need to 'carefully combine' vegetable proteins as is sometimes incorrectly thought. The non-vegetarian's body, on the other hand, is overloaded with many times the proper protein amount and becomes acidic (proteins are chains of amino acids) resulting in conditions such as gout and osteoporosis. The idea that milk will provide required calcium to prevent osteoporosis is udder nonsense since the high protein content of milk also leaches calcium from the bones. North Americans, who consume the most dairy, have the second highest osteoporosis rate in the world (outstripped only by the Eskimos who live on a very high protein fish diet). If you thought from all that advertising that bovine milk is the perfect food (which it is for a calf), take a look at all the chemicals, steroids and hormones that wind up in it causing allergies, acne, premature pubescence (and we haven't even told you about the cow pus!).
Speaking of health, a vegetarian diet is very healthy for your pocketbook too. Vegetarian meals are comparatively inexpensive since production costs raise the price of animal-based foods to ridiculous proportions.
So save your wallet, save yourself and save your family - goVeg!
goVeg! for Environment
Do you have any idea the kind of mess 10,000 cattle make? And we're not just talking excrement here. Okay, the excrement is a significant problem for sure - there is no denying it. A hog farm with 5,000 animals produces as much fecal waste as a city with 50,000 people. Factory farms produce 2.7 trillion pounds of manure each year. This stuff stays. It contributes massively to air and water pollution and is linked to various diseases caused by E. coli, listeria, and cryptosporidium.
Since cattle consume huge quantities of water, factory farming has a serious impact on the water table. Underground aquifers are being depleted. The largest one in the United States, the Ogallala, stretching from the Midwest to the mountain states, is being depleted by 13 trillion gallons a year and will run out. Northwest Texas is already dry: they can't get any water from their wells.
People are often concerned about the cutting down of forests - the destruction of the 'lungs' of the earth. What many don't recognize is that this isn't done so much for the timber industry, but for creating land to grow feed for cattle. Farming methods are designed to produce high quantity through use of potent fertilizers and pesticides destroying the soil's eco-systems.
Consumption of 'wildlife' also leads to severe though not immediately apparent problems. Over-fishing, for instance, creates breakages in the links of the food chain that affect hundreds of species as in the devastation of the Sea of Cortez described in December 1995 in the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
These and many related problems are not just going to go away. While we may not have the power to change things directly and immediately, we certainly do have the power to change our lifestyle to one that doesn't contribute to the destruction of the earth.
So save your planet - goVeg!
goVeg! for Ethics
This is a topic many people don't like to deal with sometimes because they think that talking about ethics is preaching and sometimes because they do have an idea about the horrors in the animal agriculture industry.
Factory farming is intended to produce the most meat, milk, and eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible. Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, and other animals are kept in small cages or stalls so that all of their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk. They are fed drugs and are genetically altered to make them grow larger or produce more milk or eggs. Cramped and unclean conditions promote disease and so they are fed large amounts of antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides.
Cattle are castrated, dehorned and branded without anesthetic. Milk cows are forced through artificial insemination and drugs to produce at many times any natural rate leading to mastitis and vastly shortened lifespans while their offspring male calves are chained in stalls only 22 inches wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain, deprived of their mother's milk all in preparation for the veal industry. Chickens go mad in their crowded cages and have their beaks seared off with hot blades so they don't 'damage' each other.
These are just a few of the atrocities that billions of our planet's beings endure. Indeed, the only escape is through an even more horrific death. It is irrelevant whether they have as high an intelligence as humans or have a soul as humans apparently are supposed to. What is important is that these beings can and undeniably do suffer and in this capacity, they are our kindred.
We must not forget that 'human' is the start of the word 'humane'. What do we as a species value most? Is it wealth, power, technology? Our literature, philosophies, religions all emphatically stress we strive for other qualities like courage, empathy, humility and kindness. When we stop another being's pain, we free ourselves from fear; when we acknowledge the being's intrinsic value, we gain wisdom; when we embrace the being in compassion, agape touches us. Only in this way will we evolve to what has always been our destiny.
So move your species up a rung on the evolutionary ladder - goVeg!
Conclusion (but perhaps your introduction)
Someone once said to me she found it very difficult to think about going vegetarian. I suggested she contemplate the drugs, the growth hormones, the mercury poisoning, the heart attacks, the cancer, the osteoporosis, mad cow disease, the samonella, the cow pus ... so what's so difficult?
We have given you a brief introduction as to why you should go vegetarian. Here's what it now boils down to: either you believe what you have read (in which case, goVeg for it!) or you don't. If you don't, at least make the effort to find out for yourself by consulting not only the mainstream propaganda, but also the health food nuts, the wacky environmentalists and the in-your-face animal rights activists. Each group has its own version of the same story and it is up to you to figure out what makes sense. For us, it was the most important thing we did!
Here are some websites you might want to start with:
Get the story straight from the world's most influential animal rights organization at goVeg.com
Founded by John Robbins, EarthSave has helped millions to make the change.
Get a lay person's medical perspective from The Physicians for Responsible Medicine.
A good site for a variety of information with an active forum is Vegan Peace.
Lots of resources for vegetarians at Vegsource.
There will be more added to this page including more website links, quotations, articles, an FAQ and even free food (well almost). Finally, please remember that if you have the need to talk to anyone about this, you are welcome to post on the goVeg! forum.