Vegetarian diet solution to food lack, says PETA

MANILA, Philippines - Experts and think tanks have recommended improving rice production and research to avert a perceived food shortage, but for an animal rights group, the key lies in going vegetarian.

In a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia-Pacific (PETA) said animals raised to produce meat serve as competitors of humans in terms of food.

"The situation is critical right now for the hundreds of millions of people living in poverty who are facing a food-shortage crisis. By raising animals for food, we are condemning people in the Philippines and around the world to starvation," said Jason Baker, director of Asia-Pacific.

"Animals raised for food consume nearly one billion metric tons of food eaten by humans every year — that’s enough to feed about half the world’s population. It takes up to 16 kilograms of grain to produce just one kilogram of meat."

PETA, who claims to have 1.8 million supporters worldwide, said adopting a vegetarian diet and advocating it will "set a great example and show a deep commitment to ending the food crisis in the Philippines as well as world hunger."

"A vegetarian diet is also kinder to animals, who are made of flesh, blood and bone — just as we humans are. Animals have the same five physiological senses as humans, and they suffer and feel pain, just as we do," Mr. Baker said.

MalacaƱang, however, is cool on PETA’s proposal. "It’s a matter of choice. We know for a fact that some Cabinet members are non-carnivores You cannot impose on others, some have diet restrictions. The President believes in freedom of choice," said Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye.

In a telephone interview, PETA Campaign Coordinator Ashley Fruno expressed disappointment over MalacaƱang’s stance. "We just could not understand why she [Mrs. Arroyo] would not advocate for vegetarianism. Truly, the easiest thing that she and anyone can do to prevent starvation is to go vegetarian This is just a simple thing she can do to help people, she told BusinessWorld. — Alexis Douglas B. Romero, Abigail I. Lucas and Camille N. Reyes, BusinessWorld

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