I love meat, and I know I'm not alone in my love for it. The world's total meat supply is estimated at close to 300 million tons.
Like many Americans, I'm a typical western, overweight, bearded male carnivore, but then, something strange happened.
I stopped eating meat.
I quit cold turkey. I wasn't sure why, at first. But, as the weeks progressed, and as I read and thought about it, the reasons became more and more apparent.
Even if you've never considered vegetarianism, but here are 15 reasons to go veg in 2015:
Fast forward to the day of your death. Would you have given up all your years of meat eating in exchange for another few years with your friends and family?
It's proven that you could tack on quite a few extra years if you quit meat. Make the investment today, and it could pay off in the long run.
2. Heart Health
My grandfather died at age 65 from heart issues. My great-grandfather died at age 65 from the same thing. My blood-pumper is a ticking time bomb, and I don't want to overload it.
More than 17 million people died from heart-related issues last year, so perhaps we should ease off the throttle. Vegheads have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, resulting in lower rates of coronary heart disease. Beat on, sweet heart of mine!
3. Cancer Prevention
Vegheads may enjoy a 40 percent less likelihood of developing certain types of cancers. One of my dear friends got cancer a few years ago in his late 2os, and I don't care what kind of cancer it is... I don't want it!
4. Diabetes prevention
My grandmother has had diabetes for many years, and I've watched her stab herself with needles countless times since I was a child. Becoming vegetarian lowers your risk of obesity, which lowers your chance of ending up diabetic.
5. Weight loss
How many fad diets can make that claim?
Animals eat a ton of food, and it's cheaper to mono-crop staples, like corn and soy, instead of providing a wide range of edible options.
This in turn leads to disease susceptibility, which leads to the rise of GMO seed and massive pesticide, herbicide and fungicide usage. And then, we eat it.
Tied to mono-cropping, it takes massive swaths of land to feed all those animals: 30 percent of the earth's entire ice-free land mass, and more than 260 million acres of America.
Now we're creating more farmland by chopping down seven football fields of oxygen creating trees each minute.
Vegetarians save $4,000 per year compared to meat eaters. Four thousand meat-free bones! Invest it wisely and you'll retire a meatless millionaire. Or, you could go all-organic and take a trip to Tahiti to boot.
Vegheads decrease their carbon emissions by a full 33 percent compared meat eaters. Cars or cows, take your pick.
10. Hormones and chemicals
Animals are pumped full of hormones and steroids (by comparison, a human growing at the same rate as a modern chicken would weigh more than 600 pounds at 2 months old) and antibiotics (80 percent of all antibiotics used in America are used on animals) in order to make them highly profitable products. All those lovely chemicals then work their way onto your dinner plate.
11. All the cool kids are doing it
Vegetarians are in good company, including Thoreau, Gandhi, Daniel, Einstein, Tolstoy, da Vinci and many more.
I'm a writer, and I don't like the abuse of words. I was tired of lying to myself. It's not "crispy applewood-smoked bacon," it's flavored pig belly.
It's not "beef brisket nachos," it's ground-up cow chest. It's not "deep fried chicken wings," it's birdflesh boiled in oil. Ew?
13. Water Consumption
It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of hamburger beef. The average daily water consumption of meat-eating people is 5,000 liters of water per day. Vegetarians use half that amount. Over an average lifetime, that's two Georgia Aquariums!
14. Economy, Democracy and Science
My wife and I run a charity to fight human trafficking, and we recently finished a 96-city driving tour around North America. We passed hundreds of feedlots, and it's a scary sight; thousands of cows are packed into cramped manure pits.
In addition to how poorly the animals are treated, the beef industry is a tough bunch that has even hired "scientists" to "disprove" any claims that its products might be anything short of a superfood.
Then, there's the meat monopoly. Tyson lobs the heads of almost 6 million chickens every single day.
The industry has consolidated, and it uses its power to lobby Washington. It's hijacking school lunch programs and nutritional charts in favor of fatter wallets for the nation's handful of meat producers.
Honestly, I think I just got tired of pain and death. I don't wish it on anyone, or anything. Now I have a great reverence for all life.
I know this may seem strange, but I've always felt like going veg was the right thing to do. I've kept a "someday vegetarian" file for more than five years.
I knew meat eating wasn't in any way justifiable or sustainable, but I kept putting it off. I guess there came a point where I just couldn't keep ignoring that inner voice.
So, I guess, it comes back to love.
I love meat, but I also love animals, my environment and my planet. I love trees and fresh water and organic diversity.
I love my health, my family, my friends, my local community and everyone else in the world who I've never met, but for whom I desire the best that life has to offer.
If eating only vegetables helps make the world a better place for everyone, then perhaps it's a worthy 2015 resolution.