People are vegetarian for a variety of reasons, including personal health, environmental stewardship, ethical concerns, and animal welfare.

• Being vegetarian is good for your health. Medical studies show that a low-fat, plant-based diet is optimal for human nutrition, and that mass consumption of animal protein causes health problems over time. Not to mention there are antibiotics, hormones, metals, plastic and toxins often found in meat, fish and milk products.

• Being vegetarian is good for the environment. Forests are being cut down to make room for grazing pasture and to grow animal feed. Waterways are being polluted from livestock waste runoff. Worldwide livestock farming alone accounts for almost one-fifth of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions — more than that generated by the trucks, cars, trains, planes and ships of all nations combined. If you care about the environment, it's a good idea to reduce your meat consumption.

• Being vegetarian alleviates world hunger. The amount of grains from an acre of land can feed more people than if those grains are first fed to livestock to become meat. It takes ten pounds of grain to get one pound of beef, seven pounds of grain to get one pound of pork, and two pounds of grain to get one pound of chicken. Raising animals for meat is wasteful of our increasingly limited natural resources, and not sustainable for our growing population.

• Being vegetarian helps the animals. For some, it's hard to imagine that nonhuman animals have mental or emotional lives. The question is not, do animals think or feel. The question is, do animals suffer? By eating less meat, you will limit the amount of harm you cause in the world — specifically, the suffering of other living beings.


• The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization based out of Washington, D.C., educating the public on the preventive and restorative health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. For a free vegetarian starter kit, please visit: PCRM.org

• The Meatless Monday campaign is a nonprofit initiative in association with the Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, providing information and recipes to start each week with meat-free alternatives for our well-being and environment. For more info, please visit: MeatlessMonday.com

VegWeb offers a large, easily searchable directory of delicious vegan recipes for you to explore and enjoy! Millions of people use this handy resource: VegWeb.com

Engine 2 Diet is a great program created by firefighter Rip Esselstyn, a former world-class professional triathlete, to live 'plant-strong': Engine2Diet.com

Forks Over Knives is a popular documentary that distills life-saving information about Dr. T. Colin Campbell's landmark research and book, The China Study — and much more. Watch the film online: Netflix.com or Amazon.com


* Vegetarian, or Vegan?