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February 25, 2008

We love getting letters from Vegetarian Times readers—some we publish in the magazine, some go up on a bulletin board in our office so we can all see what our readers are saying. The letter below, in which a longtime vegetarian reflects on the latest beef recall, is too long to publish in our magazine, but I wanted to share it anyway. If you’d like to get in touch with us to share compliments, complaints, ask questions, or just share your thoughts, email us at editor@vegetariantimes.com.

—Lisa Barley, associate editor/web editor

From Tracy Knopf, Twain Harte, CA:

For eighteen years I’ve been a vegetarian. I don’t preach or tell people what to do. However, in light of the largest beef recall in history, I’d like to share why I’m a vegetarian.

1. Animal Cruelty

    Beef cattle are treated inhumanely. At the Westland, CA, plant, suffering, crippled animals are picked up and moved with a forklift. Others are kicking in the face, some have had water blown up their noses with a fire hose in an attempt to force them to get up. Cows living in cramped conditions stand in deep manure until they become infected with hoof disease. Then there’s mad cow disease, caused by cows being fed cows. Cattle are injected with antibiotics and growth hormones which end up on the dinner table.

2. The Environment

    Motivated by profit, thousands of acres of rain forest are purchased inexpensively and clear cut for grazing by McDonalds, Burger King, and others. Methane from cow manure greatly contributes to global warming. Cows use huge amounts of water for drinking and in growing the food they consume.

3. Personal Health

    Mostly I’m asked where I get protein. In fact, most Americans get too much protein, which if not used, is converted to body fat. Read your labels. Protein is found in pasta, beans, nuts, potatoes, eggs, pumpkin, spinach, even tomato soup!

    Eating primarily vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts reduces heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

    Bookstores contain hundreds of vegetarian cookbooks. Experiment with recipes. Vegetarian cooking is not only delicious, it’s great for your body, soul, and our Earth. Talk about a Happy Meal!