An Animal's Suffering

The process of creating packaged meats can be very cruel and apathetic towards the lives of the animals to be consumed. There are extremes on both ends of the farming spectrum, one having horrific conditions where animals are often starved, scalded, branded, sliced, prodded, and beaten to conform to the farmer's wishes. There are also many free-range cattle farms and organic poultry coops which give these animals a comparatively pleasant life.
You can witness these events in the PETA video Meet Your Meat, but I must warn you that it's contents are extremely graphic and upsetting.

Animals feel pain, too. They struggle against this brutality inflicted upon them, but are helpless to stop it.
We would beg for our lives if someone was trying to harm us, shouldn't we do the same for animals?

Maybe you won't become a vegetarian, but I hope you will heed my message and take into consideration the suffering endured by these animals.
When buying meats or dairy products, be sure to look for labels marked: "Certified Organic," "Free-Range," and "Certified Humane."
You can read more about the true meaning behind labels at The Humane Society.

My Sweet Lord: Religion's Role

Some countries such as India, Malaysia, and Israel have prominent vegetarian populations, due to the wide spread religious beliefs that encompass their nations.
How wonderful that even though these groups do not share the same backgrounds nor beliefs nor languages, they all peacefully and independently agreed upon on their diet.
Vegetarianism is way of life that can be spread universally.

* Buddhism

In the Buddhist faith, believers must adhere to the Five Moral Percepts, one of which is Morality. This code includes the notion that harming or killing living things is forbidden, and thus many Buddhists follow a vegetarian lifestyle. Vinaya Buddhist nuns and monks even prohibit the consumption of root vegetables (potatoes, carrots) because they believe the uprooting of these organisms causes them to die.
Veggie Buddhists has a wealth of information on the Buddhist diet and the moral reasons behind it.

* Seventh Day Adventists

For 130 years, Seventh Day Adventists have advocated a vegetarian diet because of it's holistic properties. They believe that whatever is put into the body should glorify god, and preserve the health of the body and mind. Seventh Day Adventists do eat dairy and egg products, and can be considered lacto-ovo vegetarians.

* Hinduism

According to Hinduism Today, there are five main reasons why Hindus abstain from eating meat:

  1. The Dharmic Law Ahinsa - the law of non-injury, is the Hindu's first duty to God and his creatures.
  2. Karma - under the Hindu belief, all of our actions have Karmic consequences. If one creates a cycle of inflicting injury or death (even indirectly by eating meat), that same suffering will soon be inflicted upon oneself equally.
  3. Mental Clarity - food is the foundation of our body's wellbeing, as it effects our emotions and consciousness. Ingesting animals introduces disharmony within the body. The emotions the animals experienced prior to death are locked in their flesh, such as fear, anxiety, suspicion, and anger, and devouring them transfers this negativity into the eater.
  4. Health - a vegetarian diet is easier to digest and imposes fewer hardships on the body, with little impurities. Hindus believe that vegetarians have more beautiful skin, more productive lives, stronger immune systems, and purer bodies.
  5. Planet Earth - the planet is no longer a flourishing mass of resources, as many forests and habitats have been torn down, and many species have gone extinct. Hindus connect this loss of nature with the carnivorous human diet, and so they choose to be vegetarians.

* Hare Krishnas

In a similar vein, Hare Krishnas abide by a holy Hindu text called the Bhagavad Gita. In this text, food falls under three categories: the quality of passion, the quality of ignorance, or the quality of goodness. Beef, poultry, fish and eggs are considered to contain the quality of ignorance because all living beings are seen as having souls, and to kill and consume these animals would be a sin in their view. These practices are meant to create a closer bond with the Hare Krishna god, Krishna.

Is It All Just a Part of the Food Chain?

Many say, it's a dog eat dog world and eating meat is an inevitability of society. This is true, I certainly cannot expect that everyone will become a vegetarian.
Many of us have been raised our entire lives eating meat and can't imagine a way without it. Humans are, after all, at the top of the food chain.
However, just because we are top dog, doesn't mean we have to eat that way. You always have a choice.