|WELCOME TO VegWeb WA
This purpose of VegWeb WA is to provide access to
information on the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.
operates solely via email and the Internet and although it will
provide a free telephone and email service for general information,
it is unable to post out any materials.
The Director of
VegWeb WA is Robert Fraser, formerly President of the Vegetarian
Society of Western Australia, and a vegetarian of many years
It is not the aim of VegWeb WA to "reinvent the wheel", and
so this page essentially provides a direction to several other
websites that contain well-written and authoritative information
on the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, see the links on the
But briefly -
many reasons to support the case for Vegetarianism and Veganism, and
they can generally be classified as ethical, economic, dietary and
The argument that animals need to die for
human consumption is indefensible and inadmissible if we are to
ensure a healthy future for all the inhabitants of our planet.
An increasing number of people are choosing a vegetarian
lifestyle, and for a variety of reasons. These range from an
abhorrence of cruelty to animals and factory farming methods to a
basic desire for a healthy diet. Many people are now aware of the
worldwide economic disadvantages of a carnivorous diet and the
potential solution a vegetarian society could provide.
short, the reasons why people become vegetarian are varied but
Consumption of meat and
animal byproducts is now suspected of being directly related to many
of the diseases that plague the "Western" society. Coronary heart
disease is the single largest killer in Australia. Research has
shown that high meat consumption, resulting in a high intake of
cholesterol and saturated fats, has a damaging effect on the
arteries. On average, vegetarians have a lower blood cholesterol
level than meat eaters. Hence, they carry a reduced risk of heart
Cancer is another major killer. Several forms, such
as cancers of the colon, breast, uterus and prostate are clearly
diet related, in particular to animal protein and fat. Where cancer
of the colon is concerned, the damage appears to be done by the
combination of high meat and low fibre diet. It all adds up to a
strong argument for vegetarianism!
average Australian meat eater, in a lifetime, eats 92 sheep, 17 beef
cattle, 15 pigs, 1171 chickens and innumerable fish and other
animals. Since people can live without eating meat, ethical
vegetarians feel that the raising and killing of animals for food is
both unnecessary and cruel.
Life on the animal farm is
dictated by harsh economics. While millions of animals are killed
annually in abattoirs, hundreds of thousands of young animals aren't
allowed a chance to live for more than a few days. Contrary to
popular belief, the slaughter of animals is not quick, humane or
painless. Death in modern slaughterhouses is painful, frightening
Vegetarianism and veganism are practical
steps anyone can take to help reduce the number of animals suffering
in factory farm systems and slaughterhouses. The types of foods we
choose to eat have a direct effect on what happens to animals in our
An increasing number of people, aware of the
inherent cruelties associated with industries which rely upon
animals as productive resources rather than as the sentient beings
that they are, are turning to vegetarianism.
The Environment, and the damage we are doing to it, is a subject
frequently in the news.
Politicians like to make bold
statements about how much they value the environment, but in
practical terms, they usually do little to mimimise the effects of
pollution or environmental damage, usually with the stock excuse
that it will affect jobs or company profits Ė and of course their
chances of being re-elected.
Letís look briefly at how
raising animals for food purposes affects the delicate Australian
Animal farming is the most environmentally
costly way of feeding the world. The production of animal protein is
a highly inefficient use of land and water resources. Farm animals
convert plant protein to animal protein with a low efficiency -
typically around 30 - 40%, and only 8% in the case of beef
production. Four kg of grain fed to a pig produces one kg of pork.
An estimate from researchers at Cornell University in the USA is
that the water requirement for beef production is over 50 times as
much as for rice production and 100 times as much as for wheat
production. The United States Union of Concerned Scientists has
concluded that halving the average householdís meat consumption
would reduce food-related land use by 30% and water pollution by
In the next two decades, the problem of how to feed at
least 8 billion people while protecting our natural resources of
land, water, air and wild species will become increasingly urgent.
The spread of intensive animal farming throughout the world cannot
be seen as a sustainable solution.
Here are a few statistics
from the 1996 Year Book of Australia. Approximately 60% of the
Australian continent is listed as "agricultural" but only 4% of this
60% is cropped. These crops include everything from garlic through
to potatoes and wheat. Almost half of our crop land is devoted to
wheat, and about 90% of that is exported.
What about the
remainder of the 60% of Australia used for agriculture? It is sown
pastures or rangeland. We export about half of the animal products
we produce. So meat eating requires that about 30% of Australia be
used for grazing - either of natural or sown pastures.
the whole of the Australian population were vegetarian then less
than 1% of land would need to be cropped.
animal agriculture in Australia was "free range". You can still see
sheep and cattle grazing on paddocks around the country. But
intensive animal production is taking over. It is already the norm
for pigs and chickens. In 1996, feedlots had space for 850,000
The effect of this move to feedlotting is to
decrease the amount of land used for grazing, but to increase the
amount of land cropped. This is because you need to crop land to
feed the animals.
We live in a world where 38% of the
world's grain is fed to animals. It's a simple but horrible system.
Rich people want meat, so it frequently makes better financial sense
to feed grain to animals which are then sold to the rich, rather
than selling grain to the poor.
The figures on the massive
waste of the world's food resources from feedlotting animals are
well known. It takes 7 kilos of grain to produce a kilo of beef, 4
to produce a kilo of pork, and about 2.5 to produce a kilo of
chicken. In some industrial countries, 40% of calories people
consume come from fat. It is recommended by many health authorities
that this be reduced to 30% for health reasons. If this were to
happen globally, it has been estimated that it would release enough
grain to feed the worlds population increases for the next 5 years.
How much water is used to produce meat? There are different
figures from different sources, but 1 kilo of feedlot beef takes
about 50 times the water to produce as a kilo of soya beans or rice.
Even chicken, the most "efficient" modern meat industry,
uses twice as much water per kilo as soybeans or rice:-
Basic water usage figures (litres/kilo produced)
Potatoes - 500 litres
Wheat - 900 litres
Alfalfa - 900
Sorghum - 1100 litres
Maize - 1400 litres
Soya beans - 2000 litres
Chicken - 3500 litres
Beef (feedlot) - 100,000 litres
(From New Scientist
At the 1996 ANZAAS conference, prominent
scientists argued that Australia's current human population was
already consuming nearly all available resources. They predicted an
inevitable drop in living standards as an increasing population
competed for decreasing resources.
The message is clear. It
is the same message that has been heard around the world for quite
some time. The world is overpopulated and the tensions are well and
truly evident. They are evident in fisheries disputes, in genocides,
in water disputes, in mass refugee movements. Itís pretty easy, here
in Australia, to turn a blind eye to the symptoms of world
overpopulation which occur daily. But they are there.
Australia's 26 million cattle and 120 million sheep
represent a massive environmental burden on the country.
There has been much publicity over the past couple of years
about the "rabbit problem". These pests are said to exist in the
hundreds of millions, compete with native fauna, and destroy habitat
and native flora. Typically, 1 sheep eats as much as about 10
rabbits. So our 120 million sheep are equivalent to about 1200
million rabbits in terms of what they eat. Our cattle are,
collectively, an even bigger problem.
In Australia, our
cattle population peaked in 1976 at 33.4 million. Drought in the
early 1980's reduced the population but it has been growing steadily
again since 1989 to its current level of about 27 million.
Sheep and cattle production should be viewed as a conscious
choice to destroy native animal habitat in exactly the same way as
paving a parking lot or digging an open cut mine. But unlike parking
lots and mineral mines, the areas involved are absolutely massive,
re-vegetation is voluntary and almost non-existent.
meat eating is a very expensive indulgence.
sheep and cattle industries are an environmental disaster. Perhaps
intensive industries might be better? Let's look at animal industry
Piggeries stink, but the stench is really a minor
problem. Disposing of the waste is a major problem. It must be
treated before it can be used. And if you use too much, or if you
use it at the wrong time of year or in the wrong place, it will
pollute groundwater. Leeching from the treatment ponds can pollute
This is not a hypothetical problem. An example
is pollution of the Peel-Inlet Harvey estuary in Western Australia.
In this case the major culprit was phosphorus, but again the source
was primarily intensive piggeries.
In Holland in the late
1980s, it was calculated that intensive animal industries were
producing 94 million tonnes of manure per year, but could only
safely use 50 million of it as fertiliser.
eating animals is an amazing waste of resources if we first feed
them food that we ourselves could eat. So pigs and chicken are out
if you care about waste. But if we extensively graze them, we either
do it on delicate marginal land and gradually destroy it, or we do
it on good land that's better to use for something else anyway.
We can briefly mention fishing, but the world's population
will have to do with far less fish per capita in the future. Long
line fishing kills millions of innocent bystanders (birds) each
year, and driftnets are even worse. From an environmental viewpoint,
fishing is a disaster.
Tropical rainforests produce most of
the oxygen we breathe, and right now, large multi-national companies
are clearing vast areas of that forest for cattle ranching. Forests
are destroyed, cattle reared and slaughtered and the land left
infertile. When that forest goes, it goes for good. It's going fast!
One hundred acres of rainforest are devastated and disappear
every minute of every day, cutting off our lifeblood; our air
MEAT ISN'T JUST MURDER, IT'S SUICIDE!!
However, we CAN do something about the situation. We can
take personal responsibility for conserving the world's finite
resources by not consuming meat and animal products. Cut down your
meat consumption, or better still, cut out meat and slaughterhouse
Meat is not cheap!
Apart from costing the lives of countless millions of animals
each year, its production is also causing starvation for millions of
people all over the world.
A third of the world's population
is starving. Fifteen million children die every year because of
malnutrition. They die slowly and horribly, and yet, this planet
could supply ample food for everyone.
Thank you for visiting VegWebWA
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International Vegetarian Union
Vegetarian Resource Group
Australian Vegetarian Society