Lifestyle Bits

Save Mother Earth, Three Times a Day
by Gordon LaBedz, M.D.

Three times a day we can make a decision to benefit both our health and the health of the environment. Many Sierra Club members suffer great inconvenience and hardship to do the right thing for our environment—everything from recycling to not having children or not owning a car. Why not benefit the environment three times a day through a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet?

While 6 percent of the land in the continental United States is devoted to cities, 50 percent is devoted to the care and feeding of cows. Oats, wheat and soy in the Midwest are grown to feed cows. And, agriculture is the greatest source of water pollution in the United States.

It takes 16 pounds of wheat to produce 1 pound of beef. Beef is not a healthy food for humans. Wheat is a very healthy, low-fat, high fiber food. If Americans stopped eating hamburgers, farmlands and rangelands could return to wilderness.

Pork is also unhealthy since it is even higher in fat than beef. Though pigs do not require lands to graze on, eating pork destroys our environment because of the intensive concentration of animals in factory farms. This is true of chickens also. With each rain, wastes from these animals pollute our streams, rivers and beaches. Factory farming would not be necessary if Americans ate a mostly vegetarian diet.

Probably the single greatest threat to our ocean environment is factory fishing. Oceans are strip mined, killing every living thing, to harvest commercial fish for market. To a vegetarian, ALL fishing is "over-fishing."

Diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are all illnesses caused by high saturated fat diets consisting, in part, of animal and dairy products. A varied vegetarian diet provides all the necessary ingredients for good health. On average, vegetarians live seven years longer than flesh eaters. More importantly, they have less chronic illness in their old age.

A diet of fruit, vegetables and whole grains provides all the ingredients of good health. An occasional non-fat dairy product for those who need the calories is fine. What better way to improve your health and improve our Earth than to follow a healthy diet?