I’m writing in response to Owen Deland’s Features article “Think hard before going vegetarian.” As a medical student and a vegetarian of many years, I had some problems with what was written.
First, it read much more like an opinion piece than a Features article.
Second, while I agree that some of the hyperbole in promotional materials can be misleading, it is unfair to dismiss the entire movement on the basis of one person. I won’t rebut each (unreferenced) idea that Mr. Deland found in his “research” on the topic, but I would like to point him to the most comprehensive and well-referenced academic article on the subject, the position paper of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada (J. Am. Diet. Assn. 103:6 748-765 2003), which states that “Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals. Vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.”
Adopting a vegetarian diet will also do more for the environment than buying a Prius, or even never driving again. The Nov. 29, 2006 United Nations report on global warming reminds us that animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas to the environment than all human transportation (cars, trucks, airplanes, etc.) combined.
Finally, while Mr. Deland looks down on the “emotional” pictures of livestock, he should realize that his emotions are genuine and that they are trying to tell him something. If it’s painful to look at how your food is treated before it dies, how can you in good conscience pay someone else to mutilate and cage and kill for you?
-Reed C. FlaschenMedical Student