It is the duty of the government to make a country independent.

Argumentative Essay, Sibel Tanrıverdi


“Meat and potatoes” is a phrase used in American English that means the centerpiece of a meal. Besides referring to food, “meat” signifies the most important part of anything. It has been such a deeply ingrained, time-honored tradition for families to build a meal around meat, that one can safely say that meat has become the heart of an American meal. Meat gives us protein, and therefore, our strength. However, this widely held belief that meat is necessary for health and vitality has outlived its usefulness. While some people continue to hold onto this outdated perception of the importance of meat, others are letting go of it and becoming vegetarian. That is, Americans are correcting their beliefs about meat and increasingly becoming vegetarian for ethical, environmental, and health reasons.

One reason for becoming vegetarian is to prevent cruelty to animals. Animals, like humans, feel pain, stress, and fear. People cannot morally justify the pain and suffering of animals that are killed for food when adequate nutrition can be found in plant foods. Not only do animals experience these physical sensations when they are needlessly slaughtered for human consumption, but they are often treated cruelly prior to slaughter. Veal calves, for example, are forced to live in extremely small cages no longer than their bodies so they cannot move and create unwanted muscle. They are then killed when they are just twelve or sixteen weeks old so that their weak, immature muscles will provide soft meat.

In addition to ethical reasons, some vegetarians choose not to eat meat for environmental reasons. Cattle production, for example, is a major cause of soil erosion due to overgrazing of land, which creates deserts out of grasslands. Cattle production also creates water pollution through organic waste and the use of chemicals in animal feed. In addition, cattle production pollutes the air. Grain-fed cattle contribute significantly to global warming through the production of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The burning of the world’s forests for cattle pasture has released billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The world’s cattle release millions of tons of methane through their digestive systems directly into the atmosphere each year. Moreover, producing feed crops for cattle involves the use of petro-chemical fertilizers, which emit vast amounts of nitrous oxide. These gases are building up in the atmosphere, blocking heat from escaping the planet, and could cause cataclysmic global changes in this century.

While some vegetarians make the choice of not to eat meat for ethical and environmental reasons, others are concerned with personal health. The health benefits of not eating meat are undisputed, even among the most traditional and conservative medical doctors today. In scientific studies, vegetarian diets are correlated with lower cholesterol levels, lower levels of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and colon cancer. As a result, vegetarians tend to live longer, healthier lives.

Some fear that not eating meat will be difficult for nutritional, cultural, and practical reasons, but these fears can be easily allayed. Because meat, poultry, or fish is traditionally the focal point of meals, some people think meals are inadequate without a large portion of protein on the table, with vegetables downgraded to secondary roles. Although it may be true that most meat-eating Americans get the bulk of their iron, protein, and vitamin B12 from meat sources, people can easily get ample amounts of these nutrients from a varied diet that includes nuts, seeds, and grains. Even vegans, who eat no animal products at all, can take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement to bolster iron and vitamin B12 intake. Most restaurants now cater to vegetarians, especially ethnic restaurants like Mexican, Italian, and Indian, making it easy to be vegetarian and eat out. Even when there are no vegetarian choices on the menu, most chefs will surely be happy to oblige when asked to produce a special vegetarian meal. Finally, when faced with family food traditions that involve meat eating, such as thanksgiving, most vegetarians can ask the cook for a nonmeat choice ahead of time or may bring a vegetarian dish of their own.

For most vegetarians, the choice to become vegetarian is not taken lightly. Certainly, if one was not brought up as a child to abstain from eating meat, the switch to vegetarianism means a change in deeply ingrained eating habits. The benefits of vegetarianism to animals, to the environment, and most of all, to personal health, however, far outweigh the small inconvenience people might feel for a week or so after beginning a nonmeat diet. For all vegetarians, eating a flesh-free diet is a decision made for important global or personal reasons that not only impact personal health and well-being, but also the health and well-being of the planet. In the not-too-distant future, the phrase “meat and potatoes” will become a relic of the past, just like the antiquated belief in the need for a carnivorous diet.

Some parts adapted from

April 24, 2001