A vegetarian spares the lives of a certain number of animals each time he or she chooses to forgo meat for vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts. These animals, of course, are not necessarily ones who continue to live because a vegetarian chose not to eat them. The way a vegetarian saves animals is by reducing the demand for meat and causing fewer animals to be born into a harsh life owned by the meat industry, where callousness abounds and mercy is scant.
Modern high-pressure agriculture commonly keeps cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other animals in overcrowded stalls, cages, crates, or sheds where they are often unable to turn around or take even a single step for their entire lives. Deprived of veterinary care, exercise, sunlight, and even the feel of grass beneath their feet, these living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings, whose senses are so much like our own, suffer and die at the rate of millions per day just so that we can have burgers, patties, nuggets, and wieners.
Pigs, cows, and chickens are individuals with feelings – they experience love, happiness, loneliness, and fear, just as dogs, cats, and people do. More than 25 billion animals are killed by the meat industry each year – in ways that would horrify any compassionate person. The average American meat-eater is responsible for the abuse and death of about 90 animals per year.