There are many reasons why someone might choose to become a vegetarian. Some do so for religious reasons, while others have ethical concerns. Health is another consideration that many vegetarians have. Here are ten reasons why someone might want to be a vegetarian:
1. Religious Beliefs – A number of religions are associated with vegetarianism. Many Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are vegetarians. Judaism does not prescribe a vegetarian diet, but it does place restrictions on the eating of meat.
2. Nutritional Concerns – Many believe that a vegetarian diet is healthier than one that includes meat, and many studies have confirmed the benefits of vegetarianism. Vegetarians usually get more beneficial vitamins and nutrients from their regular diet, and less harmful substances such as saturated fat and cholesterol. These factors are thought to reduce the risk of many diseases and ailments.
3. Food Safety – Many food safety scares have been publicized over the past few decades, and the majority of these have involved meat. The bacteria E. coli is one of the most dreaded food contamination issues, and it is found primarily in meat. Although there have been cases of other foods being contaminated with E. coli, it is acquired through contact with contaminated meat.
4. Animal Rights Concerns – Animal rights is a primary concern of many vegetarians. The production and slaughtering of animals to be used as food is often performed under questionable conditions and with little regard for the animals’ quality of life. This has led many former meat-eaters to turn to vegetarianism.
5. Unwanted Food Additives – Factory farms often dose their poultry and livestock with antibiotics and hormones. These remain in their meat and end up on the tables of those who eat it, often without their knowledge. Those who are concerned about the effects of these additives often become vegans, as the antibiotics and hormones are also present in milk and eggs from the animals.
6. Environmental Concerns – The production of meat and animal products often has adverse effects on the environment. Factory farms are particularly notorious for their disregard of issues such as pollution and sustainability. This is one reason that vegetarianism and environmentalism often go hand in hand.
7. Concern for Laborers – Labor conditions in the meat industry often meet with scrutiny. Human rights are often disregarded, and worker safety often falls by the wayside. Not eating meat is one way to reduce the incidence of these labor violations.
8. Economic Concerns – Some believe that supporting the meat industry promotes world hunger, and there is sound logic behind this argument. The amount of land required to raise one heard of cattle, for example, could produce enough grain or vegetables to feed many times the number of people that the animal would feed over its lifetime.
9. Medical Conditions – People with certain medical conditions may benefit from a vegetarian diet. Prescription of such a diet is particularly common from doctors of alternative medicine.
10. Disease Scares – The Avian flu, hoof and mouth disease, and mad cow disease are examples of some of the disease scares that have been associated with the consumption of meat. These are serious and sometimes life-threatening aliments, and some consumers choose to avoid meat altogether to prevent exposure.