Who are you pledging love to this Valentine's Day? The Reducetarian Foundation says your pledge could include animals as it launches its #EatWithLove Campaign on Valentine's Day.
If you want to cut down on meat but not go vegan or vegetarian you are a reducetarian, says the group. and you can take a reducetarian pledge to be a "Weekday Vegetarian," a "Vegetarian Before Six" or an observer of "Meatless Mondays." Any reduction in meat helps food animals, wildlife and human health says the group.
A recent Gallup Poll found 62% of Americans say animals deserve protection and almost a third think animals should be given the same rights as people. (Up from 25% in 2008.) More than half of Americans are "somewhat concerned" over the treatment of food animals and 26% are very concerned. Clearly people are seeing the undercover factory farming videos that constantly surface on YouTube.
Reducing meat is a growing trend in America. Twelve percent of millennials are vegetarian versus four percent of Gen Xers and one percent of baby boomers. While many are motivated by cruelty, others are motivated by health. Guidelines from the USDA and cancer and heart associations always emphasize eating less meat for obvious reasons--the role of saturated fat in cardiovascular disease, the clear links between meat and cancer, the presence of drugs in meat production and meat's high calories and lack of fiber.
But there is also increasing awareness of the environmental cost of meat eating whether in global warming, pollution of streams, fish kills, encroachment on animal habitat or the outright killing of wildlife. For example, millions of blackbirds, starlings, foxes and coyotes and other so-called "pests" are poisoned with our tax dollars in shocking rancher welfare which the government calls "wildlife damage management activities."
Almost all animal suffering "can be traced to meat eating," an animal rights activist who did not give his name told me at a protest. "Wildlife is killed for livestock, food animals are slaughtered and then animal researchers cut up animals to solve heart and coronary diseases caused by eating meat!"
The abuse of workers in meat operations is also underreported. It is ironic that the same voters and politicians who are virulently against illegal immigration would be paying ten dollars for their fast food hamburger if legal workers were used. So few US workers want to work as "knockers, stickers, bleeders, tail rippers, flankers, gutters, sawers and plate boners" in meat operations for $8 an hour, the US government brings in "guest workers" to keep us in cheap meat.