WHILE SUGGESTIONS ON how to reduce global warming are certainly useful ("Our Fragile Earth" in CN, Feb 18), many of us may fail to recognize that the one simple thing that we can do to help care for the earth is to change our eating habits. Consider and reflect upon the following:

- 37 percent of harvested grain is fed to animals. In the United States, it is 60 percent.

- 80 percent of land used is for raising animals for food.

- 50 percent of water used is for raising animals for food.

- It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat vs 60 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.

- Waste from animals causes water pollution. (Waste from one cow = waste from 20 to 40 humans).

- 33 percent of energy is used to raise animals.

- Creating grazing land for cattle causes deforestation.

- 100,000 litres of water is needed to produce one kilogram of beef vs 500 litres of water to produce one kilogram of potatoes.

As Christians, we care about world hunger, the environment and animals. Since a plant-based diet addresses these concerns, it is an opportunity for us to honour God by eating a plant based diet.

We are also aware of the cruelty involved in modern farming and all the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to animals. These not only affect our health but pollute the environment further. How can we say we love God if we don't love God's creatures? What better way to show our love than by not eating them and killing them needlessly?

The Bible describes God's concern for animals repeatedly (Mt 10:29, 12:11-12, 18:12-14) and forbid cruelty (Dt 22:10, 25;4). The Bible describes animals praising God (Ps 148:7-10, 150:6). Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus, men owe them kindness. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2416)

Also consider the following position paper (2003) by the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada.

"Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower level of saturated fats, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as high levels of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E and phytochemicals. Vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indices than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer."

Since most of us can eat a plant-based diet, we can avoid causing animals to suffer or die needlessly.

Lent is a period of penance and avoiding meat. I would like the Christian community to reflect on our eating habits and the impact on our health, our environment and animals, and to visit www.true-health.com.sg, a the website of True Health, ministry dedicated to the promotion of Catholic holistic spirituality.

Dr Sebastian Liew

Singapore 079010

Tel: 6538 9978

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