Vegetarian Eating Video & Articles by Réza Ganjavi

Tips For Eating Healthy & Meat-free - What A Vegetarian Should Eat - Essential Diet For A Vegetarian

By Reza Ganjavi

I've been wanting to write an article for a long time on what are the essential things a vegetarian should eat from the standpoint of a non-expert as I am not a certified nutritional consultant so what I say should not be considered as expert advice but merely how I run my life when it comes to awareness to food

These are the basic things I try to pay attention to every day:

Things to eat:

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Some raw food (the larger the % the better)

  • Vegetarians need B-12 but I don't pay attention to it because I eat enough dairy products (yogurt, cheese, egg, etc.)

  • Complete Protein -- soy products are the easiest way -- e.g., tofu, soy milk, tempeh (the latter is fermented and is supposed to be better for men) -- wheat protein (seiten) -- beans, grains, nuts, seeds and dairy products etc. all have protein. It's important to get the right balance so we get all amino acids. This comes from either soy products alone, or combination of e.g., rice and beans, or dairy products (I heard yogurt is complete protein - some say cheese is also - and egg is also).

  • Grains, nuts, seeds, and other food groups are also good. I usually don't buy bread except a lot of to-go bread in switzerland, organic (bio) gipfelis, etc.

  • Essential fatty acids -- olive oil, some other oils, that are cold-pressed (extra virgin). I grind flax seeds and put it in the salad.

  • Enzyme bank can get depleted if not enough raw food is eaten. Cooking kills enzymes. Enzymes are very important as anti-inflammatory and for digesting proteins.

Things to pay attention to:

  • Proper "food combining" really helps (not mixing carbohydrates with proteins).

  • Read all labels of every food you buy.

  • Try top buy organic (bio) as much as possible.

Things to avoid

  • Added sugar. This includes high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, saccharose, evaporated cane juice (and other fancy words food manufacturers use to avoid saying sugar). Sugar is cheap and it's addictive so it's very good for food manufacturers. It reduces vitamins, disrupts blood sugar, disrupts energy level, disrupts hormonal system, and a host of other problems (see 's health section for more info and articles). Natural sugar as it occurs in foods naturally is necessary for the brain/body.

  • Artificial ingredients, colors, E-numbers, flavors, preservatives (this in English means conservatives not condoms like in German).

  • Caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants and depressants. A bit of caffeine may be ok as anti-oxidant effect, e.g. in dark chocolate but in general I don't like caffeine and its chemical rush.

  • Meat

“Why Don’t You Eat Meat” -- "On Diet and Health"

By Reza Ganjavi

Dear Friend:

I started writing the following a couple of months ago in California. On the way back from Grand Canyon, a Swiss girl asked me: "Why don't you eat meat". Here's a long answer to a short question. I am not trying to preach; just sharing something I think is important. I have to admit, when it comes to food, like when it comes to the Beatles, I am a purist – perhaps a fanatic – but I have lived unhealthily before so I know the other side, and I believe taking good care of the body is really essential in having a good quality of life. Persians have a saying: a healthy mind is in a healthy body. Health doesn't mean not being sick, it means having a subtle body. Subtle food makes subtle body. There is more to total health than just physical health, but that would make this another 10 pager. I'll just include a paragraph I wrote in a recent attempt:


It is really important to solve our psychological problems so that we can go on with a fresh, untainted mind. The beautiful and exciting thing is that most psychological problems which do not have a biological root can resolve when I fully observe them (must note that the observer, the "I", is the observed). And this art of looking is an act of emptying and gaining insight into "what is". What is, what I am, how I feel, my problem, can radically change, transform, trans-mute, when fully understood. This seems to be a natural law. For example, writing or talking to a good friend can be acts of emptying, observation, and insight. Thinking can be like a prison and if we do not - if itself does not - understand its limitations: where it belongs and where it does not be long, and how it is timebound - it creates sorrow, creates confusion, and when its limitation is understood, it remains silent when it is not necessary for it to work - and it stops being the ironbars which keep freedom out.


As a baby I used to hate meat but they forced me to eat it because it was supposed to be fortifying (a British Beefeater conditioning). Then I turned into a total meat-lover. I stopped eating meat (first red meat and subsequently all meat) on March 31, 1980. I abstained for a month and then I could taste the awful taste of blood in meat (iron-like taste), which was a major turn-off. My taste sense had changed. I ate fish recently after the longest time in order to not let down my friend's mother who went out of her way to make me fish, but I am happier without it. To keep it short I think there are various classes of reasons: ethical, health, environmental.

1) To survive, we must kill. Killing has various degrees (criminal justice agrees with this statement). I want to kill as little as possible, so I kill a pear, and not a sheep (can you imagine how awful it is to kill for fun as hunters do?). Also, there is a lot of crime, brutality, suffering, and pain that goes on behind the scenes, but it is presented to us with a happy face of McDonald's packaging. Most people are not ruthless enough to be a butcher, but if someone else does it they eat it - isn't that hypocrisy? Nature rewards us for not killing higher forms of life for food, as a meat-free diet is much healthier. Have you ever seen a helpless animal being killed under a butcher's knife? If you had, and had a heart, you'd not eat that animal and all the pain it went through.

2) Many health reasons exist for not eating meat. Human's intestines and colon least resemble those of carnivores who have a very short intestine so the meat stays in their system for only a short period - otherwise it would decay and cause e.g. colon cancer which is the second most common cause of cancer in America, but in China where meat consumption rate is very low, colon cancer is very rare (Cornell university study). There are many other health reasons for not eating meat which I won't go into now. The difference is in the quality of the energy produced: you are what you eat (including the antibiotics and growth hormones in meat, and even the fear the animal went through when facing execution!

3) There are many arguments that industrial cattle-farming is horrible for the environment: water pollution, etc.. I won't try to reproduce the volumes written on the subject. One interesting fact is that it takes 10 kilos of grain to feed a cow to get 1 kilo of meat. You can feed many more people with 10 kilos of grain than with 1 kilo of meat, etc. etc.

What about protein? It is easy to get complete protein (8 essential amino acids) if we eat a balanced diet. I read recently that you don't even need to eat complementary amino acids together: the body uses its stored amino acids to complete the eaten protein. Many foods have protein, legumes, nuts, grains, dairy products…

Other tips on diet: refined sugar is bad news - it disrupts the working of the hormonal system, depletes the cells from B vitamins, and as in Caffeine it alters the blood sugar which causes mood swings: high energy followed by lows (and you wake up in the morning down) - I like the high, but I can live without the lows, so best place to be is in the center: stable energy level throughout the day. The body needs sugar, but natural sugar which is found e.g. in fruits. So, when you think you crave for sugar, you could munch on dates or raisins, or apple… but I never get such cravings. A craving is the body's signal that something is lacking. Without understanding the body and nutrition, such a signal can be misinterpreted.

It is important to have a balanced diet, eating greens, fruits, grains, legumes, etc. (I like dairy products too), but also to eat "essential fatty acids" which are contained in all nuts, cold-pressed oils (e.g. extra-virgin olive oil), avocado, etc.. Fatty acids are needed for hormonal balance.

To live a super life - not a mediocre life - and this has nothing to do with wealth or circumstance - one has to have a good diet. Otherwise, one is at the mercy of blood sugar fluctuations and petty little addictions and the stress of various uppers and downers, generally respected in our society, such as Coca Cola. Can we live without stimulations? For most people, medically, stimulants such as caffeine and teine mean stress. Alcohol puts me to sleep and too much of it kills brain cells specially in older age. Many people drink to get happy and uninhibited. Others might smoke to get high. Healthy, happy, is naturally drunk and high… I get drunk from the smell of honeysuckle trees these beautiful summer evenings...

Food manufacturers don't care about your health, so it is a good practice to read the package labels. I avoid anything which contains artificial flavor and colors, and preservatives. (in German "preservative" means condom!). There’s controversy about white vs. whole grain bread. There also what’s called half-white bread. I always try to eat whole-grain bread. It has more fiber and so is better for the digestive system, and it is more nutritious. Some doctors prefer white bread for strange reasons. If you put a bag of white and a bag of whole-wheat flour in the garage, which one do you think the ants will go for first? Obviously, the whole-wheat one – they’re smart! In the USA there’s a bread called Wonderbread – white – and the wonder must be that you can roll it up to a little ball because it’s all air! And they advertise it as "enriched". First they wash off all the nutrients then enrich it – I guess because as the old Persian saying goes, "people’s minds are in their eyes". I’ve read that some of the elements in whole-wheat prevents the absorption of calcium so it is better, for this reason, it may be advisable to not to take it simultaneously with dairy products.

I like to take supplements: a few grams of vitamin C every day (if 'buffered' or 'time-release' it doesn't upset the stomach). Dr. Pauling, winner of 2 Noble prizes took 18 grams of vitamin C a day. I also pop other supplements sometimes: vitamin E and selenium, multi-vitamin, B-comples, B-12. Other supplements I like are Spirulina (algae), Kelp, Alfalfa, and Royal Jelly. Supplements are not necessary if you eat a balanced diet. But in today's polluted world, vitamin C supplement is helpful. Unlike many animals the human body does not make vitamin C.

Everything we eat leaves a residue of certain PH level. The blood’s natural PH is high (the blood is alkaline). And It is healthiest for us to eat food that leaves an alkaline effect – e.g. all raw fruits and vegetables. Almonds, millet, and dried figs are specially high alkaline. All animal products leave acid residue. I actually feel it in the body when acidity is high (e.g when I have too much cheese).


Food combining: There’s a school of thought on diet which advises against eating carbohydrates (e.g bread, potato) and proteins (dairy products, nuts) together. (Vegetables are neutral). I have experimented with this quite a bit. There’s definitely some truth to it but there are also many exceptions based on genetics, etc.. As a general rule, I try to avoid combining complex carbohydrates with complex proteins as much as possible. Being a guitarist and a computer user, this is very important with me because lack of proper combining leads to fermentation (because proteins and acid fruits requires a higher PH for digestion, and carbos’ and sweet fruits require lower PH and eating the two together causes mal-digestion). And fermentation increases the body’s acidity and leads to inflammation. Inflammation of tendons (tendonitis) is a guitarist and typist’s worst enemy. Hands stiffen because of tendon’s inflammation and because the veins in the hands are very small so the circulation is not very good, so, the residue of acidity of the fermentation does not circulate very well. This is my understanding based on what I’ve read and years of struggling with hand problems. Talking about hands and use of the body and problems associated with the modern life’s abuse of the body, I found the Feldenkrais method and Alexander Technique to be very very useful. Also *gentle* yoga is helpful. Shoulderstand is NOT recommended as it tends to strain shoulder nerves which effect the hands. Extra vitamin-C with Bioflavinoids help to contain free-radicals and inflammation (and other supplements against inflammation and free radical control such as odorless garlic maybe helpful. Enzymes are known to help with inflammation - as far as I experienced both tendinitis and carpel tunnel are related to inflammation and "wrong use of the self" as FM Alexander puts it). Walking is the best exercize... [re: hands: when brain is well rested it is quiet (good sleep), when 4 hour sleep in a night brain is agitatd, easier for hands which occupy large part of brain to be agitated]


I know many who lose their hair. I knew a doctor who said best thing for hair is to stand on your head everyday (in yoga it's called headstand). Many other things help, e.g. silica gel, vitamins, and reduction of stress. The amazing thing I have observed in myself with regards to white hair is that white hair comes with stress, and actually reverses itself if the being is well taken care of subsequent to the distress. Of course, the course of time and aging is a fact, and hair eventually whites – one doctor explained its purpose as distinguishing older ones from younger ones for various reasons – respect, etc. - who knows?! Talking about the head, a recent medical study showed brain of men shrink in size with age. No wonder "grumpy old men" are well known. I think yoga helps with that. I really love yoga postures. They really tune the body up, message the glands, reverse gravity, release tension and stress (a tense person usually doesn't know he is tense), and keep the body flexible – doctors know well that a flexible spine is a key to a healthy body.

Some people say, why live so healthy, since you could die any day anyway, but the point is quality not quantity. Healthy go happy go lucky…




Please also see various health article


"Is eating chicken okay?"

Kel, when I stopped eating red meat I still ate chicken and fish for some time and didn't need those either. I suppose some scientists would argue that white meat is better for you than red meat but I haven't done enough research to tell. Presently I don't eat any meat but "when I was younger so much younger than today" I could handle eating chicken because it didn't have that irony blood taste which red meat has which I could no longer handle after not eating blooded meat for some time. Same with fish. But I had strange dreams when I was eating fish and chicken.

This was after I quit read meat ... some time later:

With regards to chicken I noticed that everytime I had chicken I had fearful dreams. I was doing yoga stretches - also quit eating added sugar - and was getting more sensitive ... a few times I woke up in the middle of night during these fear episodes which correlated strongly with eating chicken (statistically). And I had an insight: there was no psychological basis for fear - there was no fearful dreams - but it was the body itself that was in a state I would call fear.

I continued experimenting with this.

And came to the very clear conclusion that there was something in the chicken meat I was eating that was making my body feel "fear" and the natural conclusion was a theory that many have that when the animal is being killed it's afraid and the "fear hormones" etc. is there in the meat and transfer to the consumer.

I stopped it and never had that physical fear any more.

Fish is a different episode. I had fish for a long time - but then I needed it less and less and was turned off the the gruesome animalistic bones and etc. and stopped -- then on rare occasion I had it - and everytime I dreamed about fish being killed -- this could have been psychological but funny that at isolated points the same exact type of dream was there everytime I had fish and I don't believe it was psychological but I'm not sure.

Anyway I'm perfectly happy not eating any animals. I like cheese yogurt eggs etc... and there's plenty of other ways to get all amino acids and vitamins...


He was a raw-eater for 2 years which saved him from a hip infection. He read a lot, learned that in morning for some hours it's best to just drink water as the body is cleansing off yesterday's food.


In Singapore, in luxurious parties, they bring baby monkey, alive, with its hands and eyes and mouth tied and cut its brain open on the dinner table and eat the brain raw! and meanwhile the animal is screaming with its mouth shut, then it shivers and dies. How aweful creatures we are. Killing cows and eating sheep eyes and brains, or veal, is not much less cruel. They also serve marinated bees which my friend had to eat but was very disgusted.


Panthetonic Acid (B5) is needed for Paba absorption and is found in nuts & molases. For allergies, take a gram of B5 and a gram of C in the morning.Vit C increases excertion of Folic Acid (vitamin M). If taking over 2 gram of C a day, take extra Folic Acid. For hair graying these 3 work good - can try taking 1 mg of paba 6 days a week. Can take 1 to 5 gram of C. It has no toxicity, it is water soluble. Paba also prevents wrinkles.


Cinnamon (Zimt) is good for kidney. together with Lavender. Cinemmonn is warm and Lavender not cold but fresh provides good ying/yang balance. Either as tea or aromatherapy. Ginger is the best stomach tea.

However, I met a lady who did her master's thesis on cinnamon and she said it's not good and it's toxic etc. but that only Ceylon Cinnamon is good.


From a conversation:

Do you know how much cruelty goes behind the scenes to put that plate of baby-back-ribs on the table?

"Does our cruelty towards the baby back ribs is any worse than the cruelty of the lioness or the cheetah towards the zebra and the springbok? don't you think these ugly vicious predators should be taught a lesson once and for all? how dare they, when there is all this fresh savanah grass to eat?"

Are you a cheetah or a lion? Their intestines are much shorter. Meat goes in and out. Your intestine/colon is much longer - that's why colon cancer is one of the biggest causes of death in USA: meat stays in the system for long time and decays. [Cornell study]



"I am in favor of feeding all livestock beer before their time comes. Let them get real drunk first, then they will not suffer."

"We used to slaughter lambs by talk softly and petting them to keep them calm and then blowing their brains out. If they are nervous the adrenaline taints the meat"

"Reza, you made me feel real bad. I was thinking about all those live oysters, mussels and lobsters not including the fish, eel, shellfish and frogs I've murdered. Particularly the oysters I ate while still alive. They were screaming for mercy but I didn't care. They were burning from Tabasco sauce I dumped on them, I put salt in their wounds. The only thing I can say in my defense, I did try and anesthetize them with drinks on the way down. I am surly going to Hell. The last Maine lobster I dropped into boiling water called me a S.O.B ( Salt On the Brain) as he began to turn red."

"Lobster is better broiled than boiled. You have to split them from stem to stern while they are still alive. They do not like this. After you split them you pour lemon juice and butter onto the flesh. Since they haven't figured out that they are dead they do not take this well. The first time I prepared 100+ lobster this way in one evening I dreamed of being attacked by Giant Lobsters (ala the old SNL skit). If the food chain were reversed, they would gladly split me and pour lemon on my flesh."


"Unlike carbohydrates and fat, protein contains large amounts of nitrogen, which the body cannot store. It must either use it immediately as a source of amino acids or jettison the excess by converting it into urea, then peeing it away. If you consistently get more that 35 percent of your calories from protein, the liver can't produce enough urea, and nitrogen builds up in the blood as ammonia. Death follows.... livestock on modern, intensive farms usually eat a diet enriched with nourishing grain that could otherwise feed human mouths..." From New Scientist March 2000


Halileh, an Indian spice, is good for eyes – some guy with thick glasses no longer wears glasses after eating it every day. Supposedly good for keeping hair from going white too.


Tom: Katie said: Reza says we eat dead animals. "well, we do honey". she was surprisd. Even adults don't want to think what it is (prefer to ignore).


Sugar function as an immunosuppressant in a number of ways. It :

1. lessons the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours

2. interferes with the production of antibodies, which attack invaders in the bloodstream

3. disrupts the distribution of vitamin C

4. causes mineral imbalances that weaken the immune system and are sometimes responsible for allergic reactions.

5. makes cell walls more permeable and therefore easier for invaders to penetrate by neutralizing the action of essential fatty acids.


Starting a meal with raw foods is good since raw foods have enzymes. The diet in general should include an ample supply of raw foods for replenishing the body's enzymes reserves. Cooking destroys enzimes.


GOOD TO EAt salty ad protein food in the morning to get going and sweeter food in evening

To restore colon bacteria, take: RIPE FRUIT, GREEN VEG, PLAIN WATER


She said good to take molke (milk serum) powder one spoon in water at night for 2-3 months


The European Vegetarian Union is happy to announce that the book is now available! [Reza Ganjavi's music was used in the video]

Thirty five authors - nutritionists, medical doctors, authors of bestsellers, founders of important organizations, researchers, IT-specialists, philosophers, sci-fi fans, musicians and talented individuals - generously contributed to this EVU fundraiser project. The authors come from a variety of countries, cultural backgrounds and religions but they all have one thing in common: the conviction that a more compassionate world is not only possible but inevitable if humanity is to prosper.

The authors share their individual ideas of how tomorrow's vegetarian world will be, whilst looking at a more compassionate future from many different angles. The result is a cocktail of good vibes, light and hopes. Yes, it is true. Vegetarians are still a minority today. But WHAT a minority!

We have become a social group to be reckoned with, also at an international level. What better proof is there than the increasing effort by the food industry to accommodate our preferences? The veggie-market is not booming without good reason!

If you are interested in seeing what people expect from a future vegetarian world, you can order the book from the EVU, Bahnhofstr. 52, CH-9315 Neukirch-Egnach, via Amazon or through a book shop.


Renato Pichler

President of the EVU

136 pages, 35 authors from 11 countries, ISBN 3-909067-05-0, this book is available in English only (translations are planned).


List of the authors:

Arnal, Muriel - ONE VOICE (France): It is what being vegetarian is all about: caring for others.

Barnard, Neal D. M.D., President Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (USA): A vegetarian diet has the potential to revolutionize the health of humanity.

Bekoff, Marc, Professor of Biology (USA) Shame on those who bring so much pain and suffering to countless animals, too many to count. Shame on you.

Buist, Agnes, EVU member (UK): A vegetarian world ... this will be a real step forward for humanity.

De Leo, Sigrid, teacher and former Hon. Secretary General of EVU (Switzerland): Vegetarian nutrition is the diet of the 21st century.

Eck, Stefan Bernhard/Director of ArbeitsKreis Tierrechte & Ethik A.K.T.E.

and Hohensee, Barbara Assistant Director of A.K.T.E. (Germany): Necessary thought patterns: transcendent, international, universal.

Fox, Tina, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society UK: & In the future I expect to see meat eaters having to justify their aberrant and anti social behaviour on late night talk shows.

Ganjavi, Reza, musician and philosopher (Switzerland): minimize killing and suffering.

Hebbelinck, Marcel, Prof.em., PhD, Dr.h.c., FACSM, former President EVU (Belgium): Vegetarians: People of the future.

Hershaft, Alex has launched the Great American Meatout and World Farm Animals Day (USA): The most striking aspect of vegetarian utopia is that it will not be very striking at all.

Hertel, Frauke, freelance copywriter and translator (Belgium), quotes a voice from the future: The veg*n argument was won several decades ago, by default rather than by choice.

Jain, Permit Chand , EVU member and correspondent for India: &lsquoThe importance of AHIMSA&rsquo

Kaufman, Stephen M.D., Co-chair, Christian Vegetarian Association (USA): I think that a largely vegetarian world is almost inevitable.

Koerner, Heinz, bestseller author, and Boehm, Alexandra (Germany) quote a teacher from the future: be happy that we are no longer barbarians and that we finally see animals as our friends. Let us be glad that animals also greet us as friends again.

Leitzmann, Claus, Professor (Germany): Wholesome vegetarian diets offer distinct advantages regarding physical and mental health and well-being.

Méry, André, President of Alliance Végétarienne France: The vegetarian utopia is about individuals, their sensitivity, their desire to avoid suffering, and the satisfaction of their needs so as to lead a decent life.

Murthy, Vasudev, author, musician and scientist (India) writes about the Universal Declaration of Equality of Species.

Newkirk, Ingrid, founder and President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (USA) tells about the Abattoir Remembrance Museum opening its doors.

Ovetz, Robert, PhD is Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator with the US based Sea Turtle Restoration Project: History of the future: The talking ocean.

Pedersen, Helena, Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Education, and Dian, Natalie organization consultant (Sweden) speak about the final end to unethical factory farming and animal transport.

Pichler, Renato (Switzerland) leads the Swiss Union for Vegetarianism (SVV) and is the President of the EVU: Flashback from the future - Today we have almost forgotten the era when, day after day, millions of animals were killed.

Reilly, Ciaran works in information technology and is a member of the EVU webcrew (Ireland). He talks about the end to the consumption of meat and freeing billions of animals from the prospect of a short, brutal life.

Rinaldi, Massimo, computer programmer (Italy): What would the world be like without meat.

Risi, Armin, philosopher, esoteric theologian, author (Switzerland): The spiritual origin of mankind - Human beings did not always eat meat!.

Ruetting, Barbara, EVU honorary board member, actress, author, health consultant and member of the Bavarian State Parliament (Germany): Go veg to heal the Earth.

Thomas Schoenberger is the President of the Vegetarier Bund Deutschlands e.V. (Germany) : A journey to 2040.

Schwartz, Richard H., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, author, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (USA): Imagining a vegan world.

Spencer, Elsa, Ph.D. (USA): 'A minority in a McWorld: What can vegetarians do?'

Tanabe, Lydia, working at the German cultural institute in Tokyo and freelance translator, talks about &lsquoJapan back to the roots

Vandenbosch, Michel, President and co-founder of GAIA (Belgium): Why I don’t eat meat - The importance of empathic sensitivity and ethical kinship beyond the human species.

Wardle, Tony, journalist and associate director of animal campaign group Viva! (UK): Future vegetarians will need to be brave, knowledgeable and committed.

Witten, Ilona, writer and translator (Italy/Germany): Time to change from animal awareness to animal friendly behaviour.

Mike got back from New Zealand and said too much beef production and industrial cattle farming is wrecking havoc.

Also, please see -- published a book that quotes Reza Ganjavi as well.

[reprinted with kind permission of Schweizerische Vereinigung für Vegetarismus]


242 million tons of meat were produced. Only for Switzerland, this figure amounts to 600’000 tons.[1] In Switzerland, the quantitative consumption of meat has already surpassed the one of bread (this has probably happened in other countries as well).[2] This fact has enormous ecological as well as economical consequences worldwide. Unfortunately, these consequences do not receive much attention.

Liquid manure causes dying of forests

The latest scientific research indicates clearly that today’s mass keeping of livestock is one of the main causes of the dying of forests. Biologist Dr. Hans Mohr[3] states in «Spektrum der Wissenschaft»

«An essential insight gained by ten years of research on forest damage is that atmospheric amounts of nitrogen and especially ammonium[4] nitrogen, which first of all stems from agriculture, must be reduced. [...] The disposal of the steadily increasing quantity of liquid manure and human excrements remains the cardinal problem.»

Emmissions of ammonia from agriculture stem to about 90% from liquid manure and dung.[5]

Nowadays, human excrements are for the most part being disposed of by sewage plants; animal excrements, however, are still being poured respectively sprayed onto the fields. The result of this is that nitrogen (N) in the form of ammonia (NH3), which is today considered to be mainly responsible for the dying of forests, is being caused to 85% by the emissions of livestock.[6]

Nitrogen, actually an essential nutrient for meadows, forests and life in the water, can lead to over-fertilization if available in excess. This was noticed too late because forests would first grow faster with high nitrogen supply and react with first damages only when the soil was over-saturated with nitrogen.

The research committee of the German Bundestag on the topic «Preservation of earth atmosphere» reached the same conclusion. Regarding ammonia (NH3), they published in «Climatic changes threaten national development»:

«The NH3-emissions are nationally (FRG), continentally (Western Europe) and globally to be assigned to 90% to agriculture and to 80% to the keeping of livestock. 528’000 tons of NH3 are emitted annually in the Federal Republic of Germany. Ammonia is found and starts in the stable area, on the pasture as well as when storing and bringing out organic fertilizer. [...] Ammonia and nitrogen release could be decreased by reducing the number of livestock, changes in feeding and reduction of bringing out liquid manure. [...] This would be desirable not only in ecological, but also in economical respects.»[8]

To get a picture of economical consequences of the dying of forests, these consequences were calculated taking as an example the Swiss resort of Davos[9]: Partial deforestation of local forests would therefore cause appr. SFr. 267 mio. of resulting costs, a complete deforestation would cost appr. SFr. 508 mio. Even if all steeper areas of forest would have to be replaced by avalanche barriers, it would cause costs of SFr. 415 mio.

Destruction of water

Ammonia does not only have terrible consequences for forests, but als for water. Over-fertilization causes among other things an unnatural growth of algae, which in turn extract oxygen from the water. Animal-factories, which nowadays work independent of soil, produce such an amount of liquid manure that ground water is being seriously threatened.[10] For example, the Swiss lake of Sempach as well as the lake of Baldegg are given artificial respiration with a huge oxygen blower. About 50% of water pollution in Europe is caused by mass keeping of livestock. Nitrate from agriculture has already today penetrated so deep into the ground water that some of the mineral water labels no longer comply with guiding values for drinking water.[11] In the USA, the share of agriculture on water pollution is already bigger than all cities and industries together![12]

Over-acidification of the soil

Cattle pastures already cover one third of the land mass of this planet.[16] Worldwatch Institute

Ammonia and nitrogen oxide (NOX) contribute substantially to over-acidification of the soil. This happened to such an extent in Holland already in 1989 that the department had to take on the problem. Results of the Dutch Institute for Health and Protection of the Environment[13]:

«Nitrate from liquid manure being released as ammonia into the air is an environmental poison which causes so-called acid rain and other deposits containing acid. In Holland, most part of the precipitation comes from ammonia gases out of cow barns - they cause more damage to the country than all of the automobiles and factories.»

Hothouse effect

Up until now, mainly traffic and industry have been held responsible for the hothouse effect. The influence of agricultural keeping of livestock has also been neglected for a long time in this respect. The head of the Wuppertal-Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Ernst U. v. Weizäcker comments on this: «The contributions of cattle breeding to the hothouse effect are about the same as for the total of automobile traffic, if we take into consideration clearing of forests for cattle and for fodder. [...] And the transformation from savannas into deserts, the erosion of mountain areas, the excessive need of water for cattle, the gigantic need of energy for keeping fattening animals are only further reasons for our taking a lot out of our environment with each pound of beef.»[14]

Since 1970 more than 20 million hectares (1 hectare = 2.47 acres) of tropical forests have been changed into pastures for cattles.Worldwatch Institute

Among other things, the hothouse effect is caused by the three gases of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. All three of them originate in the agicultural keeping of livestock in big numbers. 12% of methane gas emissions are caused only by the 1.3 billion cattle kept worldwide. Breeding of livestock causes 115 mio. tons (115’000’000’000 kg) of methane gas yearly. This gets even more critical if one considers that one molecule of methane contributes 25 times more to the hothouse effect than one molecule of carbon dioxide.[15]

Waste of resources

Consumers who are responsible for the production of meat are also mainly responsible for wasteful use of resources. On the same piece of land that is needed to produce one kilogram of meat, one could harvest 200 kg of tomatoes or 160 kg of potatoes in the same period of time. In Switzerland, approximately 67% of productive land are being used for keeping livestock and growing fodder.

Approximately 100 liters of water are needed to grow 1 kg of grain, the production of 1 kg of meat, however, takes 2’000 to 3’000 liters of water.

One piece of land can produce the following quantities of foodstuff: [17]

  • Cherries 1’000 kg

  • Carrots 6’000 kg

  • Apples 4’000 kg

  • Beef 50 kg

Waste of foodstuff

One needs 7 to 16 kg of grain or soya beans to produce 1 kg of meat. This can easily be defined as one of the most effective ways to waste foodstuff. This artificial extension of the foodchain due to the transformation from grain into meat causes, among other things, 90% of protein, 99% of carbo- hydrates and 100% of fibre to be lost. In addition to this, only a small portion of the body of a slaughtered animal consists of the actually desired meat. Only 35% of the weight of a cattle or 39% of a calf (without bones).[18]

Nevertheless, in Switzerland 57% of the grain are still being fed to animals. In the USA, 80% of the grain harvest are being fed to about 8 billion slaughter animals. Regarding soya beans, this amounts to even 90% worldwide.[19] About half of the worldwide produced grain is being fed to animals in order to eat their meat. If e.g. Americans would eat 10% less meat, the quantity of the grain thus saved could save about one billion people from starvation. About 1’200’000 tons of concentrated feed are being fed to livestock in Switzerland only, mostly grain. Switzerland can afford this waste, however, it hardly looks any better with developing countries: As FAO reports, in 1981 75% of the grain imports into the Third World were used for fodder. But also domestic cultivation of foodstuff is competing with worldwide cultivation of fodder: In Egypt e.g., over the last 25 years, cultivation of corn as fodder has taken over fields that used to produce wheat, rice and millet as staple food. The margin of grain used for fodder has increased from 10% to 36%.[20] A similar thing happened to other countries that increased their meat consumption. During 1950, 170 kg of grain per head were adequate to nourish the population of Taiwan. Until 1990, meat as well as egg consumption had multiplied sixfold. Grain requirement per head has increased to 390 kg because of this extension of the food chain. Taiwan can only meet this rising demand by imports, despite steadily increasing harvests. While Taiwan was exporting grain in 1950, in 1990 it had to import its needed quantity from abroad, mostly as fodder.[21] Similar numbers apply to the former Soviet Union: Meat consumption has tripled since 1950, the demand for fodder has quadrupled. In 1990 the cattle of the former Soviet Union consumed three times as much grain as the people. Imports of grain used as fodder reflect this: They increased from almost zero in 1970 to 25 million tons per year in 1990. The Soviet Union became the world’s second largest importer of fodder.

Effects on health

A vegetarian diet is not only possible, but also very healthy.

Through the extension of the food chain by feeding plantlike foodstuff first to animals and then eating their meat, there is another disadvantage: pesticides, heavy metals and other poisons contained in the fodder add up in the animal’s body. This causes e.g. contents of pesticides in meat to be 14 times higher than in plantlike foodstuff, the contents of the pesticides in dairy products to be 5.5 times higher. Consumption of animal products on a massive scale has increased so much over the last decades that the disadvantages of such a diet are now becoming obvious: high blood pressure, heart diseases as well as diseases of the circulation system, rheumatism, gout, neurodermatitis and certain kinds of cancer are only a few of the so-called illnesses caused by civilization of which we know that consumption of animal products is the main trigger. The claim used to be heard quite often that man would need meat to stay healthy. This has been disproved by scientists for a long time and is only being stated by a few of the representatives of the meat lobby.


How is it possible that meat consumption is still increasing worldwide despite the above mentioned tremendous disadvantages of a meat orientated society?[22] Besides a few psychological and social reasons mostly caused by advertising (e.g. meat gives you strength, etc.), there is one aspect that should not be underestimated: money. At first glance this seems to be a contradiction as under normal conditions a branch of the economy programmed to destroy foodstuff and resources would have collapsed long since. There is no longer any reasonable relation between the costs and the advantage of this worldwide meat production.

Costs are being shifted onto the taxpayer

One reason why the meat industry still exists is that the revenues of this business are being transferred into private ownership, the costs, however, are still being shifted onto the public (and therefore onto the taxpayer). This is well known of other branches of the economy (e.g. automobile industry). No trace of cost truthfulness in agriculture either: According to estimates made by the renowned Worldwatch Institute in Washington, the price for meat would have to be doubled or tripled if one took into consideration the full ecological costs including burning of fossile fuel, lowering of the ground water level, chemical pollution of the soil and release of gases like ammonia and methane.[23] Let alone the resulting costs of the public health system.

State-subsidized madness

In contrast to other branches of the economy, the meat industry ist state-subsidized in almost all of the countries because it would not be profitable (despite shifting the costs). In Switzerland, the state uses approx. 84% of agricultural subsidies to support the production of meat, dairy products and eggs. Only 16% are available for production of plantlike foods.[24]

Federal spending to secure prices and sales

  • For livestock business: 1’205.9 million

  • For growth of plants: 332.1 million

In no other branch of the market is the picture being so distorted as in the agricultural sector. Could you imagine a private company receiving more subsidies from the state than it takes in through the sale of produced goods? This even if the purchase of goods is granted through the state? The whole economy of the Eastern Bloc countries was led into an abyss by such politics. In countries with a free-market economy, such politics are limited to agriculture.

77% of the revenues of the Swiss economy are traced back to direct and indirect subsidies as well as countless interventions by the state. This costs the state SFr. 7 billion each year.[26] Up until now, there are 3’500 people working for the agricultural bureaucracy of Switzerland. They spend SFr. 900 mio. per year on the support of agricultural organisations only.[27] Approximately 99.5% of this figure are available for keepers of livestock. The same goes for the other industrial countries. Livestock business is not only supported and kept alive nationally, but also internationally: from 1963 until 1985, the World Bank pumped US$ 1.5 billion into livestock business of Latin America only, mostly into big cattle ranches.[28] Despite shifting of the costs and despite horrendous subsidies, agriculture remains a double-faced and crazy business for farmers and banks alike: In the USA, at certain times about 2000 farmers per week quit their jobs because they cannot keep up with the intensifying of today’s meat production.

Farmers need more and more expensive machines and in order for them to be able to buy these machines, they need higher loans from the banks. During 1986 e.g., 160 US banks went bankrupt, most of them were driven into their ruin by agricultural business.[29]

Concluding remarks

Because one’s diet is something very personal, reflection over the consquences it might have is very unpopular. Nevertheless, this article tries to outline the ecological and economical consequences a diet based on animal products can have to those people who are conscious and know of their responsibility towards their environment. All topics mentioned in this article do have serious economical consequences. A lasting and environmentally compatible economic system is not possible without taking into consideration these facts. One can only hope and desire that in the future not only environmentalists and people who want to prevent cruelty against animals will try to deal with the problems of the consumption of meat, but also economists and politicians. For pioneers for a free-economy[30], like e.g. Werner Zimmermann, this was natural; they committed themselves to a vegetarian way of life as well as to changes in our economic system. Contrary to changing our economic system, which might prove to be very difficult, everyone can start making changes in his diet.


Some good books

  • Rifkin, Jeremy: Beyond Beef. The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, Campus.

  • Robbins, John: Diet for A New America, Stillpoint Publishing, ISBN 0-913299-54-5.

  • A. Durning, H. Brough: Animal Farming and the Environment, Worldwatch-Paper 103.


Further reasons for a vegetarian way of life can be asked for at the office of the Swiss Union for Vegetarianism (Schweizerische Vereinigung für Vegetarismus):

Vegi-Büro Schweiz, Bahnhofstr. 52, CH-9315 Neukirch-Egnach

Tel.: 041 / 477 33 77, Fax: 071 / 477 33 78, PC-Konto 90-21299-7.


This text was written for the congress of INWO-Switzerland about sustainable economy.



  1. Swiss Co-operative for Slaughter Animals and Meat Supply and WorldWatch-Institute: Here’s the Beef! The World’s Consuming More Meat. (return)

  2. 53 kg of bread per year per head versus 55.5 kg of meat. According to the Swiss Co-operative for Slaughter Animals and Meat Supply. (return)

  3. Belongs to the German Academy of Natural scientists at and to the Academy of Sciences of Heidelberg whose research centre is under his guidance since 1986. Honorary doctor of the Universities of Strassburg and Limburg. (return)

  4. Ammonium (NH4+) is formed in the air from ammonia (NH3). (return)

  5. Hans Mohr in «Spektrum der Wissenschaft» January 1994, page 50 (return)

  6. Study-work during studies of environmental protection technics at TU Munich: Contribution from Dipl. Eng. Matthias Holzer regarding nitrate and ammonia emissions relating to the dying of forests, 1993 (return)

  7. Dr. Klaus Isermann, at the symposium «Ammonia in the environment - cycles, effects» in Braunschweig from October 10 through 12, 1990 (return)

  8. Joint declaration of 27 membes of the Enquete-committee where all governing parties and 14 scientists are represented (return)

  9. From: Contribution regarding forestry by the field of forest economy and forest politics, ETH Zurich 1989/8: The consequences of forest damages by David Altweg, pages 279-280. (return)

  10. To produce pork for the Swiss population, 890’000 tons of fodder are needed and 2.5 milliion m3 liquid manure are produced (calculated by »Konsum und Umwelt”, WWF Switzerland, magazine No. 1/94) (return)

  11. According to the TV-show «Meat eats people» of the WDR (West German Television) of 12/17/1987 (return)

  12. Cross, Russell H., Byers, Floyd M., and others: «Current Issues in Food Production A Perspective on Beef as a Component in Diets of Americans», page 5.26, April 1990 (return)

  13. Quoted from Worldwatch paper «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business), page 22 (return)

  14. From his preface in: Jeremy Rifkin «Das Imperium der Rinder», (The imperium of the cattle), Campus Verlag, page 12, 1992 (return)

  15. Rifkin, 1992, page 191 and «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business), page 30 (return)

  16. «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business), pages 22-23 (return)

  17. Including areas of land for production of fodder. Source: EarthSave Foundation. Depending on production or breeding method, values can vary strongly. (return)

  18. According to numbers from Swiss Co-operative for Slaughter Animals and Meat Supply (return)

  19. according to: EarthSave Foundation (return)

  20. from Worldwatch Paper «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business) from Alan B. Durning, page 36. (return)

  21. «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business), page 33 (return)

  22. Even though changes are noticeable (because of health reasons), worldwide meat production is not decreasing. The steadily increasing surplus of the meat producers is exported at ridiculously low prices into developing countries instead and there they drive the meat consumption higher. At the same time, local markets are being destroyed by this cheap meat. (return)

  23. «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business), page 48 (return)

  24. Averages from 1986-1988, total yearly subsidies for agriculture: SFr. 7.2 billion. Source: CASH, 8/3/90 (return)

  25. From: Statistical yearbook of Switzerland of 1994, pages 193-194 (return)

  26. Brückenbauer, page 4, 2/15/95 (return)

  27. From: CASH No. 5, pages 32/33, 2/3/95: «Many profiteers hang on to the udders». (return)

  28. «Zeitbombe Viehwirtschaft» (Time bomb livestock business), page 45 (return)

  29. According to Prof. Frederic Vester, biochemist, publicist in the TV-show «Meat eats people» of WDR on 12/17/87. (return)

  30. Theory of an alternative, fair, ecological and social economic system without interest, compound interest and inflation. More information on this subject: INWO Switzerland, P.O. Box, CH-5001 Aarau. (return)