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Should People Become Vegetarians?
In 2012, each person in the U.S. ate an average of 57.5 pounds of beef, 46.5 pounds of pork, and 82 pounds of
Vegetarians, about 3.2% of the population, do not eat meat (including poultry and seafood). The U.S.
Departments of Agriculture includes meat as part of a balanced diet, but it also states that a vegetarian diet
can meet “the recommended dietary allowances for nutrients.”
Many proponents of vegetarianism say that eating meat harms health, wastes resources, causes
deforestation, and creates pollution. They often argue that killing animals for food is cruel and unethical since
non-animal food sources are plentiful.
Many opponents of a vegetarian diet say that moderate meat consumption is healthful, humane, and that
producing vegetable causes many of the same environmental problems as producing meat. They also argue
that humans have been eating and enjoying meat for 2.3 million years.
The American Dietetic Association, the American Health Association, and the World Health Organization state
that a vegetarian diet can meet human nutritional needs and provide health benefits such as prevention of
certain diseases. Many physicians also argue that eating meat may increase the chances of developing health
problems including high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and certain types of cancer.
Critics of the vegetarian diet such as the Weston A. Price foundation and many physicians, say that the diet
often lacks several key nutrients, especially saturated fats. They argue that a vegetarian diet tend to be too
high in carbohydrates and sugars, and can increase the risk of health problems including diabetes and anemia.
In 2005 Dr. T. Colin Campbell published the results of a 20-year study conducted by Cornell University, Oxford
University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. THE China Study found that people who ate
the most plant-based foods were the healthiest, and that people who ate the most animal-based foods
developed the highest rates of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. However, the study was criticized in
Wise Traditions, the magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a “biased” with evidence “selected,
presented, and interpreted,” in favor of a vegetarian or vegan diet.
In 2006, the U.S. market for processed vegetarian foods, such as faux meat, non-dairy milks, and frozen
vegetarian entrees, was estimated to be $1.17 billion and growing.
On June 2, 2011, Michelle Obama unveiled the USDA “My Plate” image representing the five essential food
groups and replacing the previous “Food Pyramid.” “My Plate” renamed the “Meat and Beans” category to
the “Protein” category and changed the “Milk” categories to “Dairy”. The other three categories (Grains,
Vegetables, and Fruits) remained the same.