With America eating more meat than ever and growing sicker than ever, the dangers of a meat-heavy diet must be examined. We may now consider meat an essential part of the human diet, but in previous eras it was nothing more than a luxury. In addition, the present state of factory-farmed animals can lead to nothing but outrageously unhealthful meat. Many omnivores wonder how vegetarians survive on the nonstandard diet. Many vegetarians wonder how omnivores do survive. A meat-based diet is, all-around, hazardous. A vegetarian (or mostly vegetarian) diet seems best to promote health and well-being.
It is debated the length of time in which humans have consumed meat. Some archaeologists, based ...view middle of the document...
Meat has fluctuated in prestige since then. Followers of the temperance movement in the Jacksonian era warned against consumption of meat. These people suggested that reduction of the consumption of meat might slow a sinful sex drive or prevent cholera (Nissenbaum 1980).
At the beginning of the following century, during World War I, many countries face food restrictions. Denmark faced a particularly hard time. Allied forces cut them off from food importation, a massive danger for such a small country. The biggest problem was a shortage of grain. A Dr. Hindhede was asked to construct a diet for the newly restricted country. He decided that meat should be cut out, given the massive grain consumption of livestock (for every sixteen pounds of grain fed to cattle, for example, only one pound of meat is returned (Lappé 1991)), so that grain could be fed directly to the population of Denmark.
The country was pushed into an experiment in vegetarianism. During this time, the Danish subsisted mostly on bran, vegetables, and dairy. The result? The death rate in Copenhagen from October 1917 to October 1918, when the food restrictions were especially severe and the war still raged, the mortality rate from disease dropped by a full third from the eighteen-year average. Of course, more people were dying from war-related causes than were previously, but this can not account for a drop of 34%. (Robbins 1998) (Hindhede 1920).
In the next World War, another Scandinavian country faced a vegetarian experiment. During the German occupation of Norway, the Norwegians had to reduced. They endured drastic reduction in meat consumption. Scientists watched as the death rate from, specifically, circulatory diseases dropped sharply. After the War, the Norwegians resumed their previous diet. This meant the Norwegians also faced a rate of circulatory disease similar to that of the pre-War time. (Robbins 1998) (Strom and Jensen 1951).
It cannot help matters, certainly, the state of factory-farmed animals and the meat which results. For example, chickens today are fed a cocktail of sulfa, hormones (to enlarge their breasts, the favored part of the chicken), antibiotics (in order to combat the effects of the revolting conditions in which these chickens live), and nitrofurans. In 1980, 90% of farm chickens were fed arsenic compounds; given that this practiced is not outlawed today, the present figure is doubtfully much smaller (Mason and Singer 1980). Further, 90% of the chickens of 1970 were found to have leukosis, a chicken cancer. Whether this number has drastically reduced is unclear; what is clear, however, is that no conditions have improved in the chicken-houses which might alleviate this incidence of cancer (Shurter and Walter, 1970). (Robbins 1998)
Pigs fair no better than chickens. Most pigs have pneumonia at the time of slaughter. Over half of the pigs of 1970 had stomach ulcers. Nearly $200,000,000 is lost each year when factory pigs die from dysentery,...