Ecological and Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism

Ecological and Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism

Since the 1970s vegetarianism has gained strength from three major lines of argument: health, ecology, and concern for animals.

The view that people should keep away from eating meat or fish could be traced to ancient philosophical roots. In Hinduism, the Upanishads prescribe that the doctrine of reincarnation leads to disagreement with the consumption of meat. In Buddhism, all animals are sentient beings and deserve compassion. The Buddha prescribed that Buddhist monks should neither kill animals nor eat meat unless they identified that the animal had not been killed for their explicit consumption. In Jainism, ahimsa or non-violence toward any living creature is a central part concept of the belief system, and consequently adherents are not to consume meat.

Ecological and environmental concerns about eating meat stem from the acknowledged inefficiency of raising animals. The systemic inefficiency applies particularly to intensive farming, in which grain is grown on good agricultural land and fed to animals restrained indoors, or in the case of cattle, in packed feed-lots. A large amount of the nutritional value of the grain is lost in the process. In addition, this type of animal production is energy-intensive. For this reason, concern for world hunger, for the land, and for energy conservation provides a moral basis for a vegetarian diet, or as a minimum one in which meat consumption is curtailed.

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