Ought We to Be Vegetarians?

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Yes, we should be vegetarians

Overgrazing livestock hurts the environment through the soil, compaction, erosion, and harm to native plants and animals. Roughly 70% of the 11 western states in the United States including Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, are grazed by livestock. Vegetative species are disappearing because they are being consumed faster than they can reproduce. Vegetative species are being replaced with unpalatable weeds, prickly shrubs, useless woodlands, and non-native species. Cattle expose the land of vegetative species resulting in soil erosion. Cattles hooves are also detrimental to the soil because they compact the soil which causes less water infiltration into the soil and the plants causing them to die. According to the Andes tradition, we should not just cultivate land, but respect it. The continuation of overgrazing does not allow us to do this. If we continue to farm to many animals for the uses of food, the land we live on will die conflicting with the indigenous perspective of treating land with respect sense we are killing it.

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Vegetarian diets lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions. There are many things that create greenhouse gasses like car emissions and factories, but animals also take a huge part in the creation of greenhouse gasses. Greenhouse gases are created by enteric fermentation, manure decomposition, and deforestation so animals have more room to graze and so that there is enough room for the growing feed. Raising animals for food creates 18% of global greenhouse gases which is more greenhouse gas than transportation creates. Producing a pound of beef in a feedlot or something like a feedlot produces the equivalent of14.8 pounds of CO2 which is 32 times the CO2 emitted in the production of asparagus. That is equivalent to driving a car approximately 20 miles.

From the utilitarian perspective, our actions are right if they tend to promote happiness and wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. If a vegetarian diet lowers the greenhouse gas emissions we get from raising animals for food, then it supports the utilitarian perspective because a healthier planet promotes happiness not the opposite of happiness. Many animals raised for food in the United States are not slaughtered humanely. Many U.S slaughterhouses ignore The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). The HMSA prohibits the inhumane treatment of livestock in slaughter plants and generally requires that animals be delivered to the slaughterhouse unconscious before being slaughtered. To insure that animals are being treated humanely self-inspections happen frequently, but these self-inspections are pointless.

They are a false sense of hope to make Americans feel better about what is going on behind the slaughter house doors. One of the five leading causes of inhumane treatment of animals being slaughter is inadequate training/supervision. Some incidents that have occurred are a result of ignorance, and others were just people being intentionally cruel. Something commonly found at slaughter houses is that they do not implement company or government regulations concerning the treatment of animals humanely. Peter Singer believed we have to give equal consideration to the interest of all animals because any being that can suffer has interest. Becoming a vegetarian will give animals who are suffering in slaughter houses equal consideration, not only to live, but to be treated humanely by humans.

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