What exactly is vegetarianism? No, it’s not eating “rabbit food”. Free yourself from the narrow assumption that meat is necessary (for protein consumption, satiety, flavor, etc.). There is no sole vegetarian eating pattern. Most vegetarian diets are low in, or devoid, of animal products, but each differ in context.
When balanced and nutrient dense, a Vegetarian diet has numerous benefits! Going meat-free does not necessarily mean becoming “healthy”, whereas a diet containing meat is not “unhealthy”. Consuming quality meat, in moderation, may be quite beneficial. It’s all about personal preference and bio-diversity. The advantages of vegetarianism are dependent on what an individual wants for themselves, the planet, or both.
Take a moment to think about your perception of food; who, or what, shaped that paradigm? Do you “need meat”, simply because you grew up in a household that required meat with every meal? Do you let the media, television, or outside sources dictate your thoughts and opinions? Have you even TRIED going meat-free, without implementing a self-fulfilling prophecy before the experiment begins?
THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO EAT. DIET IS ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE.
As mentioned, vegetarianism is an umbrella term for severak different eating patterns.
The Total Vegetarian diet is comprised of plant foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts.
The Lacto-Vegetarian diet includes plant foods plus cheese and other dairy products.
The Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian (or lacto-ovovegetarian) diet includes dairy and eggs.
The Semi-Vegetarian diet does not include red meat but include chicken and fish with plant foods, dairy products and eggs.
Regardless of which vegetarian diet is practiced, consuming an adequate amount of nutrients and calories is imperative to health and vitality.
Beneficial to Overall Health
Most people get adequate protein intake from eating meat. Vegetarians need to be able to replace meat with other protein-rich foods, such as beansThe American Heart Association contends that vegetarians have a reduced risk of the following:
- Heart disease
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
This may be attributed to higher intakes in phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, flavonoids and carotenoids-aka all the good stuff found in veggies. Vegetarian diets are also naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Conventional meat is often injected with hormones and steroids, while the animal is fed a GMO-laden diet. This negatively impacts our health and overall wellbeing.
The top food allergies which people most widely have are:
Aside from physical health, shifting to vegetarianism enhances our spiritual life and awareness. The process of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle is one of self-transformation and part of a major planetary shift in consciousness.
Support Animal Rights
“Animal-rights” is an ambiguous term, really. Some people believe in “humane” animal treatment, while many vehemently object exploiting animals altogether (using animals for food, entertainment, transportation or medical research). The majority of people go meat-free because they are against the slaughter of animals for food. They realize that animals are helpless, sentient beings and feel strongly enough about it to stop eating meat and other animal products. More often than not, these animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. Animals are conscious, intelligent, emotional creatures; they feel fear, pain and helplessness. All the intuitive eaters out there will agree with me: you are absorbing that low-vibration energy each time you ingest it. THAT, personally, is one of the main reasons I chose to eliminate meat.
“There is a fundamental difference between cows and screwdrivers. Cows feel pain and screwdrivers do not.” – Temple Grandin, the famed advocate responsible for making the meat industry aware of animal suffering
Compared to plant foods, food borne illnesses, antibiotics, bacteria, parasites, and chemical toxins are more common in commercial meat, poultry, and seafood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that meat and poultry products are major carriers of disease/food borne illness. Many of the animals are fed GMO-laden food, injected with hormones and are “dead” foods. Before packaging, many are processed with synthetic chemicals to preserve shelf life. Nothing about this is natural. Our ancestors did not eat processed meats, injected with a plethora of toxic substances.
Slaughter houses and animal farms produce millions of tons of manure annually. The EPA rates them in the top 10 pollutants of the U.S. Another rising issue we, as a society, are facing is the greenhouse gases being released. Toxic waste and poisonous gases from farm equipment and waste add significantly to water and air pollution. A plant-based diet requires less energy and farmland. Going vegetarian creates significantly lower greenhouse gases.
For the diet of the average man the greenhouse gas emissions based on food choices look like:
- Heavy meat eaters (4 ounces or more per day): 16 pounds of CO2e
- Low meat eaters (less than two ounces per day): 10.3 pounds
- Fish eaters: 8.7 pounds
- Vegetarians: 8.5 pounds
- Vegans: 6.5 pounds
Vegetarians that adhere to a balanced diet, generally have a lighter and leaner figure. Diets comprised of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, veggies and fruits are much lower in calories and loaded with nutrients. Plant foods are very low in calories compared to animal foods, with the added benefits of being high fiber. If you chose vegetarianism out of vanity, it wouldn’t be the worst diet to adhere to! You’re going to lose weight and many vegetarians maintain a lean figure.
My Personal Experience
I have dabbled in both vegetarianism and veganism over the past six years. Overall, I’ve seen nothing but positive benefits. Believe it or not, my palate has actually expanded (sidenote: I’ve always been a fussy eater). Once I let go of the “meat is a necessity” paradigm, I became open to trying new things. I’ve explored new vegetables, fruits, legumes and seeds that I would have never tried otherwise. My autoimmune conditions have been under control and I feel the best I have in years. I eat as much as I want, when I want, and still maintain my weight. I also became more in tune with my body, dietary needs and personal preferences. As far as vegetarianism goes, I’m not a purist. I don’t “condemn” or judge others for eating meat. I also will eat meat (rarely), eggs and cheese on occasion. At the end of the day, I’m really just attempting to spread some awareness and help change the ordinary paradigm most people hold towards health.