Bulgarian student talks about the benefits of vegetarianism

My name is Shebi, I am an exchange student from Bulgaria. I came here with the help of World Link and have been living in the US for more than seven months now.

During these seven months, I talked a lot about my culture, made presentations. As I gained confidence in speaking in front of an audience, explaining subtle issues, and rediscovering my love for my native country, I realized that my words can make other people learn or act.

One of the requirements of my program is to find your passion and make it a reality. It brings together millions of people participating in the program. Students find something they like and then develop and implement a project that can “make a difference”.

My passion is to preach vegetarianism. Our meat-based diet is bad for the environment, it increases world hunger, it makes animals suffer, and it worsens health.

We need more space on earth if we eat meat. Animal waste pollutes America’s waterways more than all other industries combined. Meat production is also associated with the erosion of billions of acres of fertile land and the destruction of tropical forests. Beef production alone requires more water than is needed to grow all the fruits and vegetables in the country. In his book The Food Revolution

John Robbins calculates that “you’d save more water without eating a pound of California beef than if you didn’t shower for a year.” Due to deforestation for pasture, every vegetarian saves an acre of trees a year. More trees, more oxygen!

Another important reason why teenagers become vegetarians is that they are against animal cruelty. On average, a meat eater is responsible for the death of 2400 animals during his lifetime. Animals raised for food endure terrible suffering: conditions of living, transport, feeding and killing that are not usually seen in packaged meat in stores. The good news is that we can all help nature, save animal lives and become healthier just by walking past the meat counter and aiming for plant foods. Unlike meat, which is high in cholesterol, sodium, nitrates, and other harmful ingredients, plant-based foods contain no cholesterol, but contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that help fight carcinogens and other harmful substances in the body. By eating vegetarian and vegan foods, we can lose weight and prevent—and sometimes reverse—deadly diseases.

I think being a vegetarian means to show your disagreement – disagreement with the problems of hunger and cruelty. I feel responsible to speak out against this.

But statements without action are meaningless. The first action I took was to talk to the principal of the university, Mr. Cayton, and the head chef of the faculty, Amber Kempf, about organizing a meat-free Monday on April 7th. During lunch, I will give a presentation on the importance of vegetarianism. I have prepared call forms for those who want to be vegetarian for a week. I have also made posters that provide helpful information about switching from meat to vegetarian food.

I believe that my time in America will not be in vain if I can make a difference.

When I return to Bulgaria, I will continue to fight – for animal rights, for the environment, for health, for our planet! I will help people learn more about vegetarianism!





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