I love and respect animals. Animals on today’s factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats. Animals who are consumed for food are no less intelligent than the animals we keep for pets. What’s the difference between an animal you eat and an animal you keep as a pet? So many people are against animal abuse and testing on animals, but wouldn’t murdering an innocent being for personal gain be under the same category? Meat-eating has been linked with cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and many other devastating diseases. Our flat teeth are perfect for grinding grains and vegetables, not for tearing apart animal flesh. Similarly, our hands are designed for gathering, not for flesh-ripping. Our saliva contains the enzyme alpha-amylase, the sole purpose of which is to digest the complex carbohydrates in plant foods. (This enzyme is not found in the saliva of carnivores.) Basically we have all the right apparatus to consume vegetarian products, and none of the right apparatus for meat. By improperly using animals for food, we are eating ourselves off the planet. The raising of animals specifically to kill them and eat them has resulted in incredible waste and devastation of our precious resources. Just one example of the consequences is the fact that due to plundering our farmlands to fatten animals for slaughter, over 4 million acres of cropland are being lost to erosion in this country every year. Every day forty thousand children on this planet needlessly starve to death. According to the Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, when used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165 pounds of edible cow flesh. Many people try not to think of the torturous experiences of the animal whose flesh ended up in their hamburger or on their dinner table. But if it is distasteful to think about, consider what it is like to experience it. The living beings temporarily encaged in animal bodies are not here for us to harm and exploit. We are meant to act as caretakers and protectors of animals and the planet, not exploiters and killers. Many world religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and Janis’s all teach that eating animal flesh is wrong. Diets high in protein, especially animal protein, can cause the body to excrete more calcium, oxalate and uric acids which form kidney and gallbladder stones. Vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce the chance of forming these stones. An ultrasound study found that 18% of meat-eating women had symptomless gallstones, compared to only 10% in vegetarians. Because a vegetarian diet does not force calcium out of the body, as meat does, vegetarians are at a lower risk for osteoporosis – the weakening of the bones, a major health concern for women. Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended. We don’t need all that much protein, and it’s easy to get what we do need from a half-dozen, common foods, eaten just a little bit at a time throughout the day. I could go on and on stating facts about why I am vegetarian, but at the end of the day I’ve been vegetarian for three years and just the thought of eating a dead animal repulses me. Also if you are reading this for me to convince you into being vegetarian, then it probably wont work. Do your own research, do what you believe is right. Also do not argue with me about my beliefs, because at the end of the day no one will every change my mind into thinking the slaughter of innocent beings is “okay”.