Why be Vegetarian

There are many reasons why people go “veggo”, from health to ecological and religious concerns, compassion for animals, belief in non-violence, for economic reasons or purely because they dislike the taste of meat. On this page we briefly cover the 3 main reasons.

It’s better for your health…

Cholesterol (which is only found in animal products) and high levels of saturated fats have been linked with heart disease. Removing animal products from your diet, or reducing your consumption of them, can considerably reduce your chances of developing heart-related problems. Reducing your consumption of animal products can also help reduce the probability of developing certain forms of cancer. For instance, studies have shown that vegetarians have up to 40% less chance of developing bowel cancer. With heart disease and cancer being the leading causes of death in western countries, the importance of reducing our consumption of meat and animal products cannot be underestimated.
Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets
Abstract: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence- based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific
nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.”
Complete position paper available at: www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357&terms=vegetarian+diets.

It’s more humane…

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian”
– Linda McCartney
Very few people could watch animals be slaughtered at an abattoir, watch the carcass be skinned, gutted and carved up, then sit down straight away and enjoy a steak. Most of us have an innate sense of compassion and concern about suffering, it is often just that what is out of sight is out of mind. So we challenge you to visit an abattoir, a local intensive piggery or chicken farm, or see some of the cruelty involved in modern livestock production so you will be able to make an informed decision!

It’s better for the environment…

Throughout the world vast areas of natural habitats have, and are, being destroyed to create grazing land for livestock. There are also issues of erosion, salinity, effluent disposal, methane production and wildlife extinction (due to habitat destruction) associated with livestock production. And when only 7-10% of the food energy of grains and other food fed to intensively farmed animals is converted to the food energy available from meat, issues of wastage in an increasingly over-crowded world are also of concern.

Making the switch to a vegetarian diet, but not sure how to start?

Thanks to the increasing number of people reducing their intake of animal products, and the consequent rise in products catering to the needs of vegetarians, going vegetarian has never been easier. There are hundreds of delicious, healthy vegetarian foods to satisfy every taste. You’ll discover foods you love, and you’ll look better, feel better, and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that animals are not being killed for your food.
Beginning any new lifestyle can be challenging, but why not give it a go? Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to create complicated, gourmet vegetarian meals right from the start. Start by “vegging up” meals you already eat by replacing the meat in favourite recipes, like lasagne, with Sanitarium’s Vegie Delights Mince. Try some of the meat alternatives like Sanitarium’s Vegie Delights range (Hot Dogs; Curried Sausages; Soy Rashers; Not-Burgers; Deli Luncheon ‘meats’, BBQ Sausages; their Casserole Mince, Tender Pieces etc., 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… Many of these meat alternatives taste quite similar to the real thing! It is recommended, however, that you try several brands so as you are able to find ones you really like the best.

Three Simple Steps to Go Vegetarian…

The switch to a vegetarian diet is easier than you might think:
(1) Think of some dishes that you enjoy now. With a little know-how, many of these can easily be adapted to being vegetarian. The meat in many dishes can be replaced with meat alternatives without compromising on flavour. Replacing meat in a few meals each week can contribute to reducing your overall intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. For example, the mince meat in spaghetti bolognese can be replaced with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) or Sanitarium Casserole Mince; sliced meat in a salad roll can be replaced with Vegie Delights Smoked Deli Luncheon; meat in casseroles can be substituted with chunky TVP or Sanitarium Tender Pieces. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or you would like some suggestions for your favourite recipes.
(2) Sample various dishes at vegetarian restaurants to get some ideas for new and tasty meals.
(3) Borrow some vegetarian cookbooks from your local library or try some online recipes and experiment!

More Information

The following are great starting places for more information:
– Refer to our Ten Reasons to go Veggo page.
– Refer to Animal Australia’s WhyVeg.com website
– Easy Vegetarian This Australian website has been created for people who are thinking of becoming vegetarian, want to understand why a family member or friend is vegetarian, or for those who want to understand the basics of vegetarianism and its implications for animals, humans and the environment. This is a great link to send to your non-veg friends and family who might be interested in learning more about reducing or eliminating animal products.
– The free online book How to Successfully Become a Vegetarian
– Vegetarian Cooking Made Easy. A beginners guide to the vegetarian lifestyle. Discover practical tips to quickly and easily switch to a meat-free diet and for making healthy food choices – at home, at restaurants and even while you travel! You’ll learn how to get the nutrients you need while eating meals you enjoy! You’ll soon be looking and feeling better than you ever have before! Plus, you’ll get hundreds of easy-to-make, great-tasting vegetarian recipes FREE!
– Viva! (UK) has an L-Plate Vegetarian and an L-Plate Vegan guide for new veggies or vegans.
– 101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian (USA) Heaps and heaps of reasons why people make the change to be veggo. By Pamela Rice.
– Veg Beginners, with Bryanna Grogan (USA) is a great message board site with lots of tips for new veggos. With Bryanna Grogan author of several vegan cookbooks.
– The Vegetarian Society of the UK has a wide selection of Information Sheets.

“I couldn’t possibly give up meat…”

Why couldn’t you? It is not because you can’t get enough food or be as healthy without meat. It is not because you couldn’t afford the alternative foods. Embarrassment is not a problem because vegetarianism is a more than an acceptable lifestyle choice these days. What is left then? Taste. Basically mllions of us can’t give up meat because we like the taste. To put it bluntly: we are happy for animals to suffer and be killed to satisfy our taste preferences. Have you ever tried to give it up? Or have you just pictured a vegetarian meal as being what is on your plate now minus the meat? There are so many meat substitutes available. You can get meat-free steaks, hamburgers, sausages, pies, hot dogs, schnitzels, chicken and just about whatever else you desire from your supermarket. Why not sample some dishes from a vegetarian or vegan restaurant and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how tasty and how varied meat-free cuisine can be. Or try any of the thousands of vegetarian and vegan recipes obtainable from your local library or on the internet. Even if you start by gradually reducing the amount of meat you eat, you are making a positive step towards reducing animal suffering. As for living without meat completely, you can live without it. Indeed, expect to live longer (and healthier) without it!
(The above answer was adapted from the answer in the book But You Kill Ants, by John Waddell. This is a concise and informative little book that answers 100 of the most common arguments against vegetarian and vegan lifestyles)