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Essay/Term paper: Vegetarianism - to meat or not to meat

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science

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As children, one of the first things we learn is to recognize the
friendly barnyard
animals. We easily can spot the furry cow with the gentle eyes, the
feathery chickens
who run wildly about, and the pink pigs that roll in the mud. We may
also sing about that
nice farmer, Old McDonald, and all of his nice animals. The truth is
that Old McDonald
with a straw hat has been replaced by a business man in the hard hat.
Ninety-five percent of the meat we eat does not come from Old
McDonald's farm.
Hens, chickens, turkeys, and over half of beef cattle, dairy cows, and
pigs come from an
"animal factory" (Sussman, 95) which is a mechanized environment. This
new farming
method finds blue skies, tall silos, and grassy hillsides good for
calendars but, bad for
business. Those pictures are not cost effective. Animals are not
treated with the loving
care of a farmer but, are treated like inmates on death row.
Poultry, pigs, and calves are forced to live in total confinement
never to see the
light of day until they head to the slaughter house. Hens are frequently
crowded into
small cages which they may not leave for a year or two. Pregnant sows
are often put in
stalls that are their homes for three months at a time. After having her
piglets, a sow may
be pinned to the floor for four to seven weeks in order to keep the sow
from rolling over
on her babies. Cows may be fed steady diet of molasses laced saw dust,
shredded
newspaper, plastic pellets, poultry manure, and processed slaughter house
wastes in order
to gain weight faster. Confinement is so complete that the animals do
not have room to
move (206).
Not only are the animals forced to live in this unnatural
environment, they are
also pumped full off antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and are dipped in
pesticides. Over
half the cattle and nearly all pigs, calves, and poultry are fed a steady
diet of antibiotics
and related





Jarboe 2

medications to help control diseases. No one is sure what the long term
side effects may
be for people who consume these meat and dairy products (145).
Have you ever seen a big rig driving down a highway hauling
cattle? A trucker
hauling livestock can legally drive two to three days nonstop leaving the
creatures
without food or water. Truckers who do stop to rest or water their cargo
do so because
they choose to, not because the law requires it . It is not surprising
that much livestock is
driven through days of suffocating heat and below zero nights uncared
for, crowded, and
sometimes literally frightened to death. Some of the animals arriving
alive at the
slaughter house have broken limbs or other injuries due to crowding and
piling. At the
journey's end the cattle are already confused and frightened at their
treatment and strange
surroundings. Now they must be sent through such procedures such as
castration,
dehorning, branding, and injections and various chemicals (Null, 86-87).
The four slaughtering methods the government has declared humane
are captive
bolt, carbon dioxide, electrical stunning, and gunshot. The methods were
devised from
the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. The Act says that all livestock must
be unconscience
before slaughtering. Unfortunately, the act has not provisions for
punishment of those
who choose to use an inhumane slaughtering technique (Sussman, 223).
Captive bolt gun, which is usually used on cattle, uses
compressed air or blank
cartridges. The device fires a thick bolt into the animals' forehead.
Some bolts are
designed to stun the animal by concussion rather than penetration of the
skull.
Carbon dioxide is used on swine and sometimes sheep and calves.
The animals
ride on a conveyor belt into a pit filled with 65-75% concentration on
carbon dioxide.
The gas causes the animals to become unconscience.
The electric stunner is handled by a packing house worker on any
kind of animal.
The stunners are shoved against the animal, shocking it into
insensibility. If not handled
correctly, the electical stunner can cause temporary paralyzation.



Jarboe 3
The gunshot method is preferred among small operations and most
farmers. A
.22 or .38 caliber bullet is shot into the animals brain. Unfortunately,
if the animal
moves it's head at the wrong time, the bullet can miss the desired spot
causing the animal
to bleed in agony until another bullet is fired (224-226).
Chickens continue to be treated like dumb birds. In large
poultry packing houses,
birds are attached by their feet to a moving belt or chain. Conscience
birds are moved
along upside down to a motorized revolving blade that slices their neck
just short of
decapitation. Some operations force a knife blade into the birds mouth,
piercing the base
of the skull, and causing a fatal hemorrhage (Null, 136).
Foodborne illnesses are the most common non-fatal diseases in the
United States
according to the U.S. Public Health Service. Food poisoning, with
symptoms like those
of the 24 hour flu, often goes unreported or undetected. Although not
that harmful to a
healthy adult, a mild case of food poisoning can be fatal for an elderly
person, a baby, or
someone who is already ill (245).
Bacteria are easily transferred from raw meat to other foods.
Unwashed utensils,
cutting surfaces, sloppy meat markets, and restaurants may spread
salmonella and other
food poisonings. People who eat raw meat may also ingest beef tape
worms.
When barbecuing, the drops of fat dripping off of the juicy steak
onto the burning
charcoal and become superheated causing the fat's chemical properties to
change to the
form of a carcinogen. A grilled steak coated with greasy smoke can
contain as much
carcinogens as thirty packs of cigarettes (232).
Dr. Michael Jacobson, the co-director of the Center for Science
in the Public
Interest, calls bacon "the most dangerous food in the supermarket."
Bacon, sausage, and
lunch meat contain sodium nitrate which, when hitting the human gut, form
nitrosamines,
the deadliest family of carcinogens (234).



Jarboe 4
If a group of health educators, home economists, and average
individuals were
asked the question, "What is the most important nutrient to a person's
diet?" most of the
responses would be "protein." Most people associate protein with meat
cheese, milk, and
eggs. Due to a person's need for protein, the USDA says that the average
American
annually consumes 93 pounds of beef, 57 pounds of pork, 45 pounds of
chicken, nine
pounds of turkey, and 12 pounds of seafood. Dr. Mervyn Hardinge, a
medical physician
with degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities, says that the
animals you are eating
did not get their protein from eating other animals. If we think about
it logically, the
animals received their protein from the green or leave portions of the
plant. Therefore,
we should also get our protein by eating vegetables. The essential amino
acids that make
protein complete can only be received through plants (Sussman, 12).
Funk and Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary defines "healthy" as
having good
health and having characteristics of a sound condition (296). Some
people consider
"healthy" to mean eating right and being at a "correct" weight. With
planning to meet the
requirements for calcium, iron, and B12, a vegetarian diet can be
perfectly healthy and
will reduce obesity and cholesterol. The use of whole grains,
vegetables, and fruit will
cover the recommended daily allowance for the nutrients found in meat
without the
heavy cholesterol count. Vegetarians take in fewer calories and fat and
more complex
carbohydrates and fiber (Interview,Kevin Vance). Although calcium and
riboflavin tend
to be lower, the vegetarian diet is closer to the diet recommended by the
U.S. Department
of Agriculture than the average American diet which consists of Big Macs,
chicken
nuggets, and Oscar Meyer wieners.
Vegetarian diets depend heavily on four groups of plant foods;
grains and cereals,
legumes (including beans and peas), fruits and vegetables, and nuts and
seeds. Including
something from each of these four "vegetarian" food groups at every meal
guarantees
maximum nutrition (Interview,Kevin Vance).

Jarboe 5
Besides the nutritional benefits of the vegetarian diet,
the human body is
not suited for meat. For example, our teeth structures are those of
herbivorous, or plant
eating, animals. Although our bodies are designed to rely on vegetarian
foods, modern
man has changed his dietary habits to those of the carnivore, or meat
eater. We may
think of ourselves as carnivores but, our flat teeth are not designed to
tear through hide,
flesh, and bones. Tenderizer is put on meat so that it will be more
easily chewed.
Furthermore, the digestive system of the carnivore is designed to get rid
of the meat it
eats before it decays. The human digestive system is designed to break
down complex
carbohydrates and fibers like those of the herbivore (Sussman, 300).
Taking a look past the cruel treatment of animals and the
nutritional value of the
vegetarian diet, maybe God did not intend for us to eat meat at all. In
Genesis 1:29-30
God said:
I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of
the whole earth and every
tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be
your for food. And to all the
beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and
all the creatures that move
on the ground - everything that has the breath of life
in it - I give every plant
for food. And it was so. 

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