Health Reasons to be Vegetarian

Anyone who claims that living healthy requires living meat free is lying. While it's true that meat-linked diseases cause sixty percent of American deaths, it's also true that millions of moderate meat eaters live long and healthy lives. Many doctors, in fact, will argue that a sensible, low-meat diet is even healthier than a vegetarian diet. Nonetheless, I can still think of at least one good health reason to quit eating meat entirely. By doing so you potentially avoid a sudden, painful death accompanied by abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea.

Every day in the United States, some 200,000 people suffer food poisoning. Nine hundred of these people are hospitalized, and roughly 14 die. The vast majority of these incidents can be directly traced to meat consumption, and for a very simple reason. More often that not, processed meat contains shit. Removing the stomach from an animal carcass is tricky, and doing the job correctly requires a cut that even veteran butchers find difficult. Botching the cut means spraying the contents of the animal's stomach onto the meat, and not surprisingly, tired, underpaid, and unskilled slaughterhouse workers often do just that. While no one knows exactly how frequently this occurs, if it only happened one time out of a hundred, meat eaters would still have cause to worry. The miracle of modern, efficient beef processing means that a single fast food hamburger can contain the remains of over one hundred cattle.

It would be nice to think that the USDA protects Americans from eating shit, but unfortunately even this is no longer the case. Intense beef industry lobbying in the late 1980's resulted in the Streamlined Inspection System (SIS), a new set of industry guidelines that replaced most federal meat inspectors with in-house employees. As a result, USDA officials now see less than one percent of carcasses processed annually, and thousands of animals with pneumonia, measles, abscesses, and fecal contamination pass by the myopic eyes of in-house inspectors every day.

The above problem can be solved easily enough by quitting meat outright, but unfortunately this solution does little to address an even greater health crisis. While your vegetarian or vegan diet should keep you hale and happy the rest of your life, chances are good that your neighbor's diet won't. In fact, if your neighbor is anything like the typical American, he or she averages three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week. A lifetime of fast food inevitably catches up with everyone, and unfortunately for taxpayers, the ill effects often kicks in about the same time as Medicare. Moderate meat eaters and vegetarians may enjoy longer lives, but they also must pay taxes longer as well. And at an estimated annual cost of 123 billion dollars a year, the high cost of treating meat-related diseases means it's not only the meat consuming Americans who are eating shit.