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Green Is Better
Photo: Lisa Fanucchi
Eating green is better and healthier. It is healthier for people, for animals, and for the environment. Eating a plant-based diet is associated with a longer life, less chronic disease, and less damage to the environment.

Vegetarians enjoy lower levels of blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure levels, less obesity, and less heart disease, hypertension, and cancer than those whose diet includes meat. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic monitored patients with severe coronary artery disease who previously had angioplasty or bypass surgery. All those who ate a plant-based diet had no recurrence of coronary events over the next 12 years, and the coronary arteries of 70 percent of them became less clogged.

The risk of a fatal heart attack in non-vegetarian men is twice that of their vegetarian counterparts, while diabetes is twice as common in non-vegetarians. In addition, the risk of prostate cancer is 54 percent greater in non-vegetarian men than in vegetarians. A Finnish study observed that middle-aged men who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 41 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate the least.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that food pathogens cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,200 deaths annually in the U.S. Outbreaks of foodborne illnesses are most commonly linked to meat and luncheon meats, poultry, seafood, and egg products. Ninety percent of all chickens leaving the food processing plant are contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, while 2.3 million eggs are annually contaminated with Salmonella. Research shows that people who experience food poisoning are more than three times as likely to die in the following year.

Escalating Health-care Costs

Disease related to a diet low in plant foods and rich in animal foods, contributes to escalating health-care costs. One study estimated that going vegetarian could save the United States about $60 billion annually.

It takes about 14 trillion gallons of water annually to water crops grown to feed livestock in the U.S. As much as 4,500 gallons of water are required just to produce a quarter-pound of raw beef. Just to irrigate hay and alfalfa, it takes more water than that required for all vegetables, berries, and fruit orchards combined.

The ethics of factory farming has been seriously called into question. Many animals are housed in very cramped living conditions where they may have to sit in their own excrement and never see the outdoors. Severe crowding in industrial factory farms facilitates the spread of pathogens from animal to animal. In addition, the dehorning and tail docking of cattle and the debeaking and detoeing of chickens are common practices today that cause a lot of pain to innocent animals.

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By Winston J. Craig. Reprinted with permission from the Lake Union Herald, December 2006. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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