Food & Diet
7 Reasons to Go Vegetarian
The rising rates of obesity and a general decline in nutrition in most developed countries has spurred many individuals to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. If you are still on the fence about the subject and are looking for reassurances that you are taking the right step towards a healthy lifestyle, read on.
- VEGETARIANS ARE LEANER
As a group, vegetarians are a lot leaner than omnivores. With only 0-6% of obese vegetarians, it seems that when you go vegetarian you take the weight off and keep it off. With all of the fiber, complex carbohydrates and essential nutrients (but none of the saturated fat provided by meat), fruits vegetables and nuts form the foundation of a fit and healthy lifestyle.
- A VEGETARIAN DIET HAS BEEN DECLARED AS THE MOST IDEAL DIET FOR CHILDREN
It has been found that adults who eat vegetables are those who ate vegetables as children. In Dr. Spock’s book, Baby and Child Care, published in 1998, Dr. Spock himself preaches the advantages of a vegetarian diet for children. With meal planning and the incorporation of different types of plants including fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, a parent doesn’t have to worry about nutrition deficiency or malnutrition in their child.
- SLOWS THE AGING PROCESS
Perhaps the most popular touted benefit of vegetarianism – the increased concentration of fiber and anti-oxidants in a plant based diet seems to have a tremendous effect in maintaining a youthful appearance. Perhaps the fountain of youth has been right before our eyes all along. In a 12 year study, published in the British Medical Journal, it was concluded that vegetarians often outlive meat eaters by as much as 6 years. Other compounds that help fight aging and are abundant in plants are: phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
- BEING VEGETARIAN REDUCES YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
A vegetarian’s carbon footprint is only about two thirds that of an average American and almost half of a meat lover. One of the major culprits of greenhouse gases (an even bigger culprit than vehicles!) is actually animal farming. We could all ease Mother Nature’s burden a little bit by eating more plants than meat.
- EAT YOUR WAY TO A HAPPY HEART
With no heart clogging cholesterol laden animal fat, it is no wonder that vegetarians are at least 24% less likely to die from heart failure. Also, in a study published in The Lancet, the participating group in the study who ate a vegetarian diet for a whole year experienced a lowering of cholesterol by as much as 24.3%.
- ANTI-OXIDANTS AND FIGHTING THE BIG “C”
Fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C and carotenoids. These compounds protect our cells from oxidative damage that may eventually lead to certain types of cancer and even heart disease. The high protein and fat content in meat facilitates the synthesis of carcinogens like HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) during processing and cooking of the meat. The increased fat intake through meat products also encourages hormone production, a possible cause of many hormone-related cancers like prostate and breast cancer.
Also noteworthy, being vegetarian seems to promote later menarche in girls. Later menarche has been linked to reduced risk for breast cancer.
- AVOID TOXIC CONTAMINANTS
Look up any video on the internet showing meat processing plants and you will be horrified by the sorry state these operations are in. For years meat farmers have over bred and drugged animals to cut production costs. As a result, these animals are often sick and riddled with viruses and parasites like salmonella, trichinella and toxoplasmosis.
Over the years as the popularity of vegetarianism has increased so did the questions regarding its sustainability as a lifestyle. Reports of nutrient deficiency are at the forefront of concerns regarding this lifestyle. However, these concerns are unfounded. A number of research shows that it is usually poor meal planning that is the culprit of these deficiencies and not vegetarianism itself. In fact, in a study published in pubmed.gov the authors praise well-balanced vegetarian diets as adequate for all stages of the life cycle, from infancy to adulthood. Even athletes can benefit greatly from a well-planned and balanced vegetarian diet.