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FOOD REVIEW

The Essential Vegetarian

‘101 Reasons’ to eschew meat

By Katie Jeffreys

Features Editor

I must be asked about once a week why I decided to become vegetarian. The basic answer is simple: I don’t like meat. I was raised in a meat-and-potatoes household. Then one summer I was away from home and ate very little meat. When I returned, my mother served a welcome-home steak dinner. I was repulsed by the bloody pink slab of flesh on my plate, and from that point on swore off meat.

Since then, I have found many other reasons to be vegetarian which only bolster my cause. In addition to possible health benefits (which I fear I counteract with my abnormally large chocolate intake), there are many environmental reasons to be veggie.

Pamela Teisler-Rice describes comprehensively the many benefits of vegetarianism (primarily by describing the drawbacks of a meat-based diet) in her publication “101 Reasons I am a Vegetarian,” <http://www.earthbase.org/vivavegie/vv101/> written in 1996 and updated in 1998. I have excerpted a few of her entries which I find personally compelling. I encourage everyone to read the entire list, as well as other literature on vegetarianism. Comparing vegetarian propaganda with that produced by the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (who are responsible for the milk moustache ads) and the American Cattleman’s Association can be very confusing. It is important to get the facts straight, and sift through the spin. While the advocates of meat and milk are not incorrect in what they say, they do not tell the whole story. Vegetarian propaganda is often superior in that it states facts in the context of the misleading facts it refutes.

If you would like to see other issues addressed in this column, or have any other comments or questions, please e-mail me at veggie@the-tech.mit.edu.

World Hunger

The senseless waste of the world’s growing meat-centered diet is illustrated by the following hypothetical statement: “If everyone adopted a vegetarian diet and no food were wasted, current [food] production would theoretically feed 10 billion people, more than the projected population for the year 2050,” according to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research group. Even today, 840 million people are malnourished and nearly 50,000 die of starvation every day.

Environment

From the animal-fed breadbasket of the nation’s Midwest, massive amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and manure travel down the Mississippi River until they end up in the Gulf of Mexico. The high-nutrient content of the waste causes an eco-chain reaction that ultimately ends with microscopic organisms robbing the bottom of the ocean of oxygen. Any animal living there will have to relocate or suffocate and die. The phenomenon is known as hypoxia. Scientists have dubbed affected areas “dead zones.” The gulf’s dead zone in 1997 covered an area the size of Hawaii.

Animal Rights

To produce foie gras, male ducks are force-fed six to seven pounds of grain three times a day with an air-driven feeder tube. This torturous process goes on for 28 days until the ducks’ livers, from which the pÂtÉ is made, bloat to six to 12 times their normal size. About 10 percent of the ducks don’t make it to slaughter. They die when their stomachs burst.

Men’s Health

The second leading cause of cancer death among men -- prostate cancer -- is not just an inevitable outcome of getting old; it is the result of a lifetime diet of animal fats. The fats stimulate the production of male hormones, which in turn spur prostate cancer cells to grow. Radiation, cryosurgery (the freezing of malignant cells) and traditional surgery are the treatments. But don’t worry: there are condom catheters for the incontinence and penile implants for the impotence.

Women’s Health

Though osteoporosis is a disease of calcium deficiency, it is not one of low calcium intake. One cause of the bone disorder is too much protein in the diet. Excess protein can leech calcium from the bones. Famed diet innovator Nathan Pritikin has noted that African Bantu women on low-protein diets take in a third of the U.S.-recommended daily allowances of calcium. “They bear nine children during their lifetime and breast-feed them for two years. They never have calcium deficiency [and] never break a bone.” The typical meat-eating American is eating about five times as much protein as needed.

Vegetarian Chili

1 cup kidney/pinto beans

2 T oil

1 onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 rib celery, diced

0.5 bell pepper, diced

1-2 cloves garlic minced

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

0.75 c tomato puree

0.5 t powdered cumin

1.5 t chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and soak beans. Cook with 4 cups of water. SautÉ the carrots, onions, celery, pepper and garlic in oil for 15 mins. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 5 mins.

Add beans and simmer for 15 mins.