I have been a vegetarian my whole life which is why I chose this topic. “Approximately six to eight million adults in the United States eat no meat, fish, or poultry” (Becoming A Vegetarian). One of the main questions is “why are people drawn to vegetarianism?” Some people may just want to live longer, healthier lives and others may want to help preserve our environment and earth’s natural resources such as water or they have a love of animals and an ethical opposition to eating them because of the abuse. “Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses” (Becoming A Vegetarian). I am vegetarian mainly because I was raised that way, but also because there are many health benefits from having a plant-based diet. I get questions a lot about what I eat if I don’t consume meat as a main protein source. My answer is simple and I say this to everyone who asks me, “I eat everything you eat minus the meat or I substitute it with vegetarian meat.” A lot of people think I’m crazy because they feel like they could never go without meat in their daily diet, but I think even if you limit yourself to a few vegetarian meals a week it can help you with your overall health and even the environment. Call me bias, but I’ve seen first hand the health benefits a vegetarian lifestyle has to offer and I can compare it to my family and friends who eat meat on a daily basis. With that being said I’m going to talk about how vegetarianism can be a solution to many health problems in America.
The benefits of being a vegetarian are vast, one of the big ones is, “if you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life” (Vegetarian Times). That just shows how powerful a plant-based diet can be to help you live longer. Having a vegetarian diet can also help by reducing your risk against diseases such as cancer. “Vegetarian diets—naturally low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and replete with cancer-protective phytochemicals—help to prevent cancer” (Vegetarian Foods). Cancer is on of the big major diseases that is hard to fight and, “it is becoming more clear that meat cancer connection exists” (Women’s Health). Women who eat more red meat and processed meats have a higher risk of getting breast cancer and it is also linked to pancreatic, gastric, colon, and prostate cancers. Reducing your meat intake can also help with other diseases, “studies have shown that eating less meat reduces the risk of heart disease and perhaps even type 2 diabetes and some cancers” (Eating Well). Out of the many diseases, “the number one killer among women is heart disease” (Women’s Health). By reducing red meat and processed meat intake you lower your chance of getting heart disease and living a longer, healthier life. “According to the American Dietetic Association, ‘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’”(Becoming a Vegetarian). With that being said the benefits of a plant based diet will help you later on in life when you get older and its harder to fight diseases such as heart disease and cancers. A vegetarian lifestyle can help you fight these horrible diseases just by reducing your meat intake.
America has a serious problem with obesity in all age groups, “64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes” (Vegetarian Times). “The standard American diet—high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in plant-based foods and complex carbohydrates——is making us fat and killing us slowly”(Vegetarian Times). If more Americans diets changed to that of a vegetarian diet we would be healthier and live longer. Findings show that, “overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight five years later” (Vegetarian Times). This just goes to show if you want to lose weight and be more healthy having a vegetarian diet will be beneficial to you over other diets that may make it hard to lose the weight and keep it off. “Good nutrition generates more usable energy” (Vegetarian Times). A balance vegetarian diet will help you feel energized because it does not have the animal fat that will clog up your arteries. I believe that if many Americans cut out meat a few meals a week they would feel healthier, be more healthy and feel more energized.
Another benefit that is not necessarily health related, but it is still as important because it has to do with our environment. And our environment and natural resources can still affect our health and well being later on if they are not maintained. Going vegetarian full on or even a few days a week can help the environment tremendously. “Raising cattle for beef and milk spews more greenhouse gases into the air than all of the cars currently on the road” (Women’s health). This is stating that we are polluting our air even more by raising livestock for meat than we are driving our own cars and you would think it should be the opposite. “The livestock industry wreaks havoc on our land and water—taking up vast amounts of scarce resources and polluting the waterways more than probably any other industry” (Women’s Health). California for instance is already in a drought so if we reduced the amount of meat we ate and livestock we raised for meat we would have more water for our dry state and other states too. “Eating a plant-based meal for lunch instead of a burger saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 133 gallons of water, and 24 square feet of land” (Women’s Heath). Going vegetarian really is a new way to go green for the environment and to help save our planet. By eating a plant-based diet, “in just three lunches, you’ll have saved more water than you’ll save by switching to a low-flow showerhead” (Women’s health). Water is one of the earth’s resources that we will always need to live, be healthy, for farming, and to keep our planet from dying. You can help save water by going vegetarian instead of skipping a shower or taking a short one! So by becoming a vegetarian or by eating a few vegetarian meals a week you are helping the environment and future generations to have more resources.
Vegetarianism has become a more popular diet for a lot of people looking to expand their taste buds and to be healthier. It is also now easier than ever to become more educated on being a vegetarian and getting recipes for many vegetarian meals because of the internet, cook books, and grocery stores and restaurants now carry more vegetarian items to eat. For every meat product out there, there’s a meat free version of it that taste better and is better for you. There has been many occasions where I have cooked a vegetarian meal for my family and friends and they did not even realize their was no meat in the dish or that it was a vegetarian meat. And they usually want more because it was so good! I think everyone should give the vegetarian lifestyle the benefit of the doubt and not feel like they are missing out on the “good stuff’ when there is plenty of meals that are just as good or better than having real meat in them. The health benefits are clear and I think if Americans went out of their comfort zone and tried a vegetarian diet for a few days they would really enjoy it and realize they aren’t sacrificing a lot for their overall health. Being a vegetarian is also cost effective, “meat accounts for 10 percent of Americans’ food spending. Eating vegetables, grains and fruits in place of the 200 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each non-vegetarian eats annually would cut individual food bills by an average of $4,000 a year”(Vegetarian Times). So if you aren’t trying to break the bank a vegetarian diet might be for you. Your plate will also be full of color with all the fruits and vegetables to chose from to add to your meals. “Disease-fighting phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their rich, varied hues,” your plate will be a rainbow full of nutrients for your body (Vegetarian Times). With all the health benefits vegetarianism and how easy it is to be a vegetarian, rather than asking yourself why go vegetarian, the real question is: Why haven’’t you gone vegetarian?
Gorman, Rachael Moeller. “Healthy Recipes, Healthy Eating.” EatingWell. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. The major point in this article is exploring the benefits of people that are vegetarian. It also explores the different reasons why people become vegetarian.
Publications, Harvard Health. “Becoming a Vegetarian.” Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. This article talks about the benefits of becoming vegetarian and also the steps you need to take to become vegetarian.
Publications, Harvard Health. “Considering a Vegetarian Diet: Is Meat Free Really Better?” Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. The major point in this article is the different studies that show how a vegetarian diet is better. It also talks about how to switch from a meat diet to a vegetarian diet. The article also mentions what you should eat when you are on a vegetarian diet.
“6 Reasons to Eat Less Meat.” Women’s Health. N.p., 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 May 2017. This article goes over 6 reasons why you should eat less meat. It goes into depth on the reasons why becoming a vegetarian is good for your health as well as the environment.
“Vegetarian Diets and Childhood Obesity Prevention.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. This article is about how a vegetarian diet can increase the likelihood of childhood obesity and help them become healthy early on in age. The childhood obesity rate is an epidemic and it needs to be solved, The plant based diet seems to be a good solution to help with childhood obesity.
“Vegetarian Foods Powerful For Health.” The Physicians Committee. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. The main point in this article is the many health benefits including healthy heart, lower blood pressure, controlling diabetes, etc. It also talks about how to plan out a vegetarian diet.
“Why Go Veg?” Vegetarian Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. The major point in this article is the health benefits vegetarianism has against diseases like cancer. It also talks about how it benefits the environment and pollution and how being a vegetarian saves money.