10 Reasons to go Vegetarian
There’s heaps of reasons to go veggo! We outline 10 of them on this page.
1. High on Health
Government and nutritional bodies throughout the world agree that a vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients required for good health. For example, the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada state in their Position Statement on Vegetarian Diets:
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. … Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals.” Vegetarians have less chance of developing many common diseases and health conditions: heart disease, hypertension, many cancers, obesity, strokes, osteoporosis, kidney stones, diabetes, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, asthma, diverticulosis, constipation, macular degeneration (deterioration of the retina), and many other diseases and conditions. The only foods that contain cholesterol are animal products – meat, eggs and dairy products. There is no cholesterol in plant foods whatsoever. So to help reduce your cholesterol level, reduce your intake of animal products. A diet high in meat and animal products is also high in saturated fat, and can lead to a build up of plaque in arteries. Recent research has shown that diets with excess protein can leach calcium from bones. This is because calcium is required in the metabolism of certain animo acids (the building blocks of protein) and this calcium is extracted from the bones. Vegetarians get adequate protein, not excessive protein.
2. Elixir of Youth
Vegetarians can live longer, healthier lives. One 21 year study that compared meat-eaters and vegetarians showed that the greater the meat consumption, the greater the death rate from all causes combined. And according to William Castelli, Director of the Framingham Heart Study, vegetarians outlive other people by six years. The China Health Study also supports these findings.
High in phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits strengthens the immune system, keeps you healthy, and slows the ageing process.
A plant-based diet provides sustained, healthy endurance!
3. Flab Fighter
Vegetarians, generally, are slimmer than meat-eaters. Being slim places less stress and strain on the body, and can give you more energy and vitality. And you also look better and feel more attractive!
4. Damage Control
Chemicals and toxins occur throughout the environment. However, it is the consumption of meat and animal products that greatly accumulates these toxins in the body. For example, birds eating contaminated fish acquire all of the toxins that the fish have accumulated. This is referred to as ‘bio-accumulation’. Eating plant foods, which are at the bottom of the food chain, minimises your intake of these contaminants and toxins.
The best way to de-tox is to go veggo and eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies.
5. Playing it Safe
Most foodborne illnesses are transmitted via meat and dairy products. “Ground beef is the most likely source of E. coli O157:H7, poultry carry Salmonella and Campylobacter, and the consumption of raw shellfish has caused infection with Vibrio vulnificus,” says David Swerdlow of the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta. Any raw food – including fruits and vegetables – can carry harmful bacteria, but meat, seafood, and poultry are the most likely culprits in foodborne illness. *
6. Clear Conscience
Hidden from public view is the death-driven meat industry that treats sentient life forms as an economic production commodity. In ancient times, when animals were sacrificed, the spirit of the doomed animal was often acknowledged in special ceremonies. Today this has given way to cold-blooded assembly line slaughtering processes. And this debasing of animal life debases our own lives. Remove meat from your diet and enjoy a clear conscience.
It is not only the slaughter of the animals that vegetarians don’t have on their conscience, but they are also not supporting modern intensive farming methods that treat animals so appallingly throughout their entire lives – confining them in inhumane, artificial, crowded conditions, providing little or no capacity for them to live anything remotely like a natural life, or follow their natural instincts. It is fortunate for the meat industry that everything is carried out behind closed doors because most people would be otherwise outraged.
It is estimated that the average vegetarian saves the lives of 6 cows, 22 pigs, 30 sheep, 800 chickens, 50 turkeys, 15 ducks and half a ton of fish.*
7. Satisfaction Assured
Veggie food tastes great! Contrary to what many meat-eaters think, vegetarian meals do not just consist of boring salads, vegetables, tofu and lentils. With the many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks around it is not difficult to make a large variety of completely satisfying vegetarian meals.
You can even make many of your favourite non-vegetarian dishes by substituting meat with readily available meat alternatives that provide tastes and textures very similar to meat, but with less saturated fat and without the cholesterol. The quality of meat alternatives these days is excellent and new products are coming onto the market all the time.
Meat alternatives currently available include the Sanitarium Vegie Delights range (Hot Dogs; Curried Sausages; Soy Rashers; Not-Burgers; Deli Luncheon ‘meats’, BBQ Sausages; their Casserole Mince, Tender Pieces etc; and their Nugget Mix, Sausage Roll Filling and Vita-Burger), the Zoglo’s range (Crispy Vegetarian Schnitzel, Tender Vegetarian Meatballs, Vegetarian Nuggets etc.), the various brands and types of plain tofu, marinated tofu, tempeh, and the wide range of pre-packaged burger varieties etc etc. The list goes on… All of these alternatives are readily available. But remember, different people have different tastes so it is advisable to try a selection of brands and varieties until you find the products you like the best.
8. Sustainable Living
Meat is an incredibly wasteful way of producing food. Depending on the type of animal it takes between 10kg and 20kg of feed to produce 1kg of meat. As the human population increases and the demand for resources escalates, such a wasteful food production method can no longer be justified. It is far more efficient, and makes much more sense, to live lower on the food chain and grow food directly for people rather than for animals. A reduction in meat production would significantly increase the food available for human consumption. It’s crazy to think that while millions of people starve in the Third World, the Western World wastes enormous amounts of food feeding animals because of an insatiable desire for meat. If everyone in the world went vegetarian we could feed the whole world with much less impact on the environment.
People who eat meat require much vaster areas of land for the production of their food. The expansion of the meat and dairy industries over the decades has resulted in huge losses of habitat, much, much more than that for the production of plant foods. (And much of this plant food goes to feed animals anyway!) The major factor in the loss of bio-diversity is, by far, habitat destruction.
Clearing of land for grazing is the major contributing factor in salinisation and soil erosion. Overgrazing in semi arid areas can lead to desertification.
Water consumption and usage is extremely high in the meat and dairy industries.
Effluent disposal from intensive animal farming operations is a major problem and can lead to severe pollution of waterways and ground water. Manure in sewage ponds or heaps, and the animals themselves, produce millions of tons of methane each year. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is contributing to global warming.
A True Economy is one in which all externalities and costs of production are considered. In agriculture this includes costs of fuel, water, agri-chemicals, top soil loss, erosion, salinity, effluent disposal, greenhouse gas emissions, transport etc. Clearing of forests, grasslands and other habitat are other costs. If all the costs associated with production of meat were included in the price, and if all government subsidies were removed, no-one could afford to eat it!
10. A Happier Hip Pocket
Sure, you can spend $22 a kilogram on organic snow peas, and $5 for a packets of vege-sausages, but overall, most plant foods and plant-based foods, are comparatively cheap. And these lower prices show up when you eat out. Check for yourself on most restaurant menus – the vegetarian dishes are usually significantly cheaper than the meat, seafood, and poultry dishes.
Just because people have eaten meat for thousands of years doesn’t mean it’s a good reason for us to continue. Traditionally, societies have also had slaves and women have been oppressed by men but most people are happy to have seen a change in our value systems and for us move beyond this. Part of the joy of living is the growth we experience in our lives. Education, awareness and understanding make us better human beings. And it is exactly this ability to adapt that has pushed us to explore and to make changes in our societies.
When all aspects are considered, the only reason why people eat meat is for the taste or convenience. Some people will try to insist it is necessary for health but there is absolutely no evidence to support this argument. A balanced vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients needed for human health. So in a modern society, is taste and convenience enough of a reason for all the detrimental impacts and suffering associated with meat production to continue?
Abundant energy! Radiant health! Clear conscience! Delicious food!
Compassionate living! The choice is yours…