Growing up, I firmly believed two things. First, I would one day be the starting power forward for the Philadelphia 76ers. Second, vegetables are bad.

As I've gotten older, I've realized I lack both the height and the array of post moves to make it as an NBA starter. But the years have only affirmed my instincts about vegetables.

The herbivore camp will point to the various health benefits of consuming leaves, stems, and roots. But these pale compared with the emotional, physical, and monetary costs.

For instance, suppose I go to a supermarket and decide to purchase peas. I have two options: those produced by a large, multinational pea corporation, or those from the local, fair-trade pea collective.

I look up the corporation on my phone and discover that underpaid child laborers harvest its peas, which are sprayed with chemicals known to cause infertility and packaged in environmentally harmful plastics. Obviously, I cannot purchase these peas.

The fair-trade peas, on the other hand, are 17 times as expensive, because the collective lacks the multinational's supply-chain synergies. Of course, I'm willing to spend the money, but my bank denies me the necessary credit on the grounds that my proposed pea investment is risky.

Hungry and out of other options, I drive to central Pennsylvania and join an Amish community, where I plant, water, and harvest the peas myself, not to return to society until years later, during the coming-of-age period known as Rumspringa.

And peas are just the first item on my grocery list. There must be a better way.

Suppose I go to a restaurant instead. I politely ask the waitress if she can describe the environmental footprint of the potatoes used to make the french fries. She cannot, so I cannot in good conscience order the fries.

Later in the meal, I spill salad dressing on myself. Before using my napkin, I ask whether the restaurant composts its trash for its vegetable garden. The waitress has never heard the word compost and reveals that the restaurant has no vegetable garden. I can't possibly add to its waste by soiling my napkin.

Finally, I ask what percentage of the restaurant's profits will be distributed to local farmers. None, it turns out, so I refuse to pay my bill. In a progressive community, this would be considered noble. In America, it's considered petty theft. I spend the next 48 hours in jail, hungry, and covered in salad dressing - all because of vegetables.

Of course, a few days in jail, or many years outside mainstream society, are merely the most minor consequences of vegetable consumption. With every slice of onion or leaf of lettuce digested, I could be helping to chop down a rain forest, disenfranchise a community, or punch a continent-sized hole in the ozone layer. It's healthier to avoid vegetables altogether and maintain the moral high ground.

Eric Mustin is a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University and an Inquirer Off Campus contributor. E-mail: