Hundreds of millions of people around the world are fans of vegetarianism, following a meat-free diet due to ethical, medical or religious reasons.
Many studies have identified health and wellbeing benefits to becoming vegetarian. Vegetarians are considered to be healthier than meat eaters and less prone to illnesses like specific cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, gout, gallbladder problems, as well as obesity.
A major reason for vegetarianism being on the increase in the UK is that 2.5 million farm animals are killed each day for the palate of the meat eater. Most of those animals are reared in excessively crowded factory farms, not getting any exercise or fresh air.
There are also critical environmental hazards related to the meat industry, such as global warming. Food production for animal feed usurps immense amounts of water, depleting water resources considerably. There can be issues relating to growth hormones used on the animals to maximise meat density, as well as the use of vast amounts of fossil fuels, like coal, gas and oil. Natural habitats can also be affected.
Another critical issue is world hunger. What we consume here has a direct impact on world hunger. Animals consume ten times as much plant food than we do, yet they return just a slight proportion of what they consume in meat as well as dairy produce. Alternatively, crops grown for animal feed could be used to feed people starving across the world.
There have also been serious health dangers presented by meat in the last few years, ranging form BSE, bird flu, foot and mouth.
People in the UK and around the world are considering less selfish ways of living. Vegetarianism promotes a kinder way of being, greater compassion and selflessness.