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Stephen Archive



Veggie Trek, USA


WARNING TO READERS: Stephen's dispatch is over 4,653 miles long!!!

There are 15 million vegetarians in the US and we want to know why. To solve this mystery, Neda and I talked with vegetarians around the country to ask them why they decided to stop eating meat. We also asked them what they most want meat-eaters, like me, to know about why more Americans should go veggie.


Erica told us she decided to be a vegetarian in high school because she felt tired all the time and thought that her meat-eating might be causing it. She was also grossed out by not knowing what she was biting into in restaurants and at the school cafeteria. By not eating meat, she does not have to worry about all of the hormones and chemicals that get put into meat in America.

Almost 1/3 of the cattle in the US are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, which increases the amount of milk a cow can produce. But scientists have found that a protein in this hormone-milk can cause cancer and diabetes. The US is one of the only countries that still allows cows to be injected with the stuff.

Until more studies are done on these hormones and altered food is labeled, Erica feels safer avoiding meat completely.


Our friend Jen has been a vegetarian since she was 16, when she realized that the animals she saw grazing on the side of the road were the same as the ones on her plate at dinnertime! She admits that it was hard for her to stop eating meat, but after she read a book about what REALLY happens in American slaughterhouses, there was really no turning back.

Almost all of the meat we eat comes from factory farms, where animals (like cows, chickens, and rabbits) are treated horribly, like objects instead of living beings. (Check Neda's dispatch on Fast Food Nation!


Sara said that she was a vegetarian for five years but had to stop because she found that a vegetarian diet made her immune system weaker. For some people, cutting meat out of their diets is not the best choice for their body chemistry.


How to avoid being blown off the top of a canyon

Sara told us that meat-eating is a big environmental issue too. 25% of the world's land is used for grazing the cattle that we eat. Forests (like the South American rain forest) and other wildlife habitats are destroyed to make places for these cattle to graze. Plus, farm animals produce 130 times more waste than humans, which contaminates water supplies and adds to the Greenhouse Effect!


Jacinda told us that she first stopped eating red meat because it often leads to heart disease. However, she gave up all meat after realizing that eating meat has social costs throughout the world.

Most of the grain that is harvested in the US is fed to farm animals. If people in countries like the US, moved to vegetable diets, we could give a lot of grain to the 1 billion humans around the world who don't have enough to eat.


Almost everyone who Neda and I talked to told us that they wanted people to know that being vegetarian is a really good, healthy, and socially conscious alternative. There are a lot of different reasons to become vegetarian and a LOT of people are doing it.

Vegetarian cookbooks, restaurants, and menus are making it much easier to go veggie.

I don't know about you, but after reading over this information again, it seems pretty clear that eating meat has real social, ecological, and economic consequences. It really does not make that much sense to me to eat meat. In fact (Welcome to a US Trek revelation!), I'm not going to do it anymore.

How about you?


Please email me at: stephen@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Rebecca - Eat something! It might save your life
Irene - It's a fact. Women rock!
Neda - Safety first and profits later? Don't bet on it with fast food companies
Jennifer - Some people just have "The Healing Touch"