The following information are all facts and have been put together after researching carefully. It is strictly your choice whether or not to follow the article’s advise and become a vegetarian. This articiles’ intention is to inform, not to cause you to do anything against your will. Thanks.
As more and more media pressure pours from out from movies, ads and TV shows with wire-thin celebrities, more diets are constantly created to keep up with the latest fad. But perhaps it was the yogic influences of Madonna (after all, vegetarianism was the root of Hinduism and Buddhism) or the sudden realization that maybe the added- hormones and steroids in that steak you had last night aren’t really good for you, lately more and more people are turning to vegetarianism for their eating choice.
Vegetarianism and veganism…what’s the difference?
All vegetarians avoid, to some degree, animal foods – fish, poultry, meat, and dairy – but to what degree is the one’s choice. Semi-vegetarians avoid meat but still eat poultry and other animal foods. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians avoid poultry, fish and meat but do consume milk and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians don’t eat any animal foods other than milk products. The ultimate vegetarian though, in my point of view, would be the vegan. Vegans eat no animals foods AT ALL and also avoid wearing animal products (such as leather or wool), and are also very likely to shun alcoholic beverages, processed foods and foods grown with chemicals like pesticides or fertilizers.
Why become a vegetarian?
The reasons people become vegetarians vary as much as, if not more, the types of vegetarians there are.
Many people turn to vegetarianism simply because of the many health benefits it can bring. With the absence of meat in the diet, vegetarians decrease risks of obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and several forms of cancer, just to name a few. Without the amount of animal fat, added steroids, hormones, antibiotics, questionable feed and toxic waste (yes, toxic waste!) in meat taken out of the diet, vegetarians tend to have healthier lives than non-vegetarians.
Then there’s the case of diary. As the average North-American, you’ve probably been told thousands of times that milk is a healthy food. Yes, milk is a good source of calcium and iron and certainly won’t kill you in the long wrong, but it is also a good source of drugs (hormones and steroids yet AGAIN), mutant proteins (through pasteurization) and excessive mucus. Even if a cow is completely healthy and not drugged in anyway, our bodies just aren’t genetically designed to process it, since I’m certain none of us are baby cows. Now you just might think twice before pouring that glass of milk down your throat.
For animal-lovers, being a vegetarian also means opposing the killing and exploitation of animals for profit. There was a time when animals lived in their natural environment and ate foods that came directly from the earth, breathing clean air and drinking clean water. Not anymore. The meat sold in supermarkets comes from animals raised in tiny cubicles, so small they would not even be able to take a step. They are usually fed the cheapest food possible: feed that include ground animal parts, especially ones that don’t sell well, like brains, hooves, beaks etc. Sheep don’t eat other sheep in the wild. Neither do pigs, cow, nor chicken.
As unlikely as this may seem, some people become vegetarians because of economic reasons. They argue, validly, that the maintenance of animals is an uneconomic use of natural resources, that the land used to graze animals should be better used as farming land, to grow crops and increase the world’s food supply. Many other people have reasons of their own, like religious restrictions. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt becoming a vegetarian has its benefits.
How to go on living without meat
Some people don’t become vegetarians because they say a plant-based diet cannot provide proper nutrition. While it is true that the absence of meat brings low saturated fat, cholesterol and salts also brings less iron, zinc and calcium, it is definitely possible to make up for this in ways other than meat. For example, fortified grains and cereals bring nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin D and some B vitamins. The calcium and vitamin D in milk can be replaced with alternatives like fortified soymilk.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians can use eggs, nuts, dry beans, and peas in place of meat.
With carefully planned diets and a wide variety of foods, it is possible for vegetarians to get all essential nutrients without supplements. For vegans, vitamin and mineral supplements, especially of vitamin B12 and others like vitamins B2, B6 and D, calcium, iron, zinc and other minerals, can be taken to replace animal products.
Think being a vegetarian means boring food? Think again! Veg-friendly menus are sprouting up everywhere and more and more eateries are focusing on vegetarian and vegan foods. There’s even nondairy ice cream! Check out www.vegcooking.com for more vegetarian and vegan meal ideas.
Not everyone can instantly become a vegetarian, no matter what the reason is. I myself for example, could not totally eliminate meat from my diet for my own reasons (but let’s not get into that). For people like me, there is still a way to live healthier without entirely getting rid of animal products in your diet. The most important step would be to reduce intakes of animal fats (those found in meat and dairy) and to increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It would be even better if the fruits and vegetables were grown naturally (without pesticide, fertilizer etc. – as they would have been grown in nature) and the juices not come from concentrate, since concentrate juices are high in acid. Though not as common as natural vegetables, natural meat is also produced. These healthy alternatives can make a big difference in your life and are worth the slight difference in terms of prices.
So there you go. Of course, this article just outlines the basic parts of vegetarianism, not even mentioning the long history behind it. Still not moved to become a vegetarian? That’s fine, because in the end it’s all your personal choice, even though the facts are clear and the results obvious (will that be cancer or no cancer for you, dear?). If you’re on the fence and don’t know what decision to make, you can find out more about the benefits of vegetarianism as well as many other tidbits at www.goveg.com to persuade yourself once and for all that being a vegetarian may just be the best choice you’ll make (check out ‘Health Concerns’, FAQ and ‘Tasty Recipes’!).
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cindy Zhu is a student at the University of Toronto Schools and spends her freetime pursuing the areas of philosophy and sociology. She practices yoga.