Reasons to Try A Vegetarian Diet: Vegetarian Food is Healthy and Eco Friendly

Many people develop an interest in the vegetarian diet once they taste delicious vegetarian recipes and realize they don’t notice that it’s meatless. Contrary to what many meat lovers assume, vegetarian food encompasses a vast scope of cuisines and natural ingredients that are accessible, affordable, and easy to cook. But the food is only one aspect of the vegetarian lifestyle. The reasons why people choose to become vegetarian are often similar to their reasons for going green in other aspects of life.

Compassion for Animals

Vegetarians save animals by reducing the market demand for meat supply. The list of cruelties animals suffer, especially in factory farms, is extensive. Today, many animals live brief lives in cramped, windowless confinement. Many don’t raise families, build homes, eat a diet of grass or do anything that’s natural to their species.

Redirecting Food to the Poor

Millions of pounds of grain are exported every year from third world countries to feed livestock in the west. For instance, it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. If people in the United States reduced meat consumption by 10%, 12,000,000 tons of grain would be free to feed 60,000,000 people.

Large Scale Meat Consumption is not Environmentally Sustainable

As reported by the United Nations, the meat industry is the biggest cause of global warming, producing 40% more greenhouse-gas emissions than all of the cars, trucks, and planes in the world. Since 1960, 25% of the forests in Central American have been destroyed for cattle grazing. And while water supply decreases around the globe, it still takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of meat.

Improve Heath and Reduce Risk of Disease

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are significantly less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure. Meat is full of toxins produced by stress, hormones, and pesticide residue from the grain animals eat.

On the other hand, vegetarians consume the nutrients they need from plant proteins, fibers, and minerals without the saturated fat and cholesterol in meat. Unlike fad diets that make people feel tired, vegetarians feel energetic and light because the energy in protein has a higher conversion rate. The vegetarian diet not only takes weight off, but it keeps it off. Vegetarians are one-third as likely as meat eaters to be obese, vegans are one-tenth as likely.

A Vegetarian Diet Can Be Flexible

The key to making a healthy diet last is flexibility and not feeling deprived. Going vegetarian doesn’t have to be an overnight, or an all or nothing effort. In fact, many people first choose to eat vegetarian once a week and go from there. Others choose to only eliminate red meat from their diet.

Vegetarian Food is Delicious and Satisfying

There are thousands of vegetarian food recipes available on vegetarian food websites and vegetarian cookbooks, as well as food guides. Many beginner vegetarians are surprised to find that they don’t feel hungry. The market for meat and dairy-free products is growing and many of the products currently available are tasty. The common argument the vegetarians don’t eat sufficient amounts of protein is often posed by meat eaters who consume too much protein. Vegetarians are no different from ordinary people; they eat when they’re hungry.

Ask one hundred vegetarians why they’re vegetarian and expect to get one hundred different answers in return. The key to exploring a new diet is to focus on expanding the variety of options the diet includes, and reason behind trying a vegetarian diet in the first place.

Reasons to Adopt a Vegetarian Diet

According to a poll conducted by the Vegetarian Resource Center, approximately six to eight million adults in the United States have adopted a vegetarian diet, meaning they never eat meat, poultry or fish/seafood (though there are several different types of vegetarian diets, some of which allow for occasional exceptions to the meatless rule). The question commonly asked is, “Why?” What compels an individual to make such a significant restriction to the typical Western diet? The reasons to become a vegetarian are numerous and vary among individuals.

Ethical Reasons for the Vegetarian Diet

There are many people who have moral objections to eating animals. They refrain because they object to the conditions in which farm animals are bred and raised, the way in which they are slaughtered, or they simply oppose the overall concept of using living creatures as food sources. These vegetarians will often also refrain from purchasing items made from animal products including wool, leather and fur.

Health Reasons for the Vegetarian Diet

Some vegetarians believe meat is an unhealthy food choice for the human body. It takes longer to digest and, with the abundance of hormones in the modern meat supply, it often contaminates the body with synthetic, unhealthy chemicals.

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have lower rates of death from heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer compared to meat-eaters. Additionally, those who enjoy a vegetarian diet are less likely to be obese.

Environmental Reasons for the Vegetarian Diet

According to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental problems worldwide, contributing on a “massive scale” to air and water pollution (from animal waste, antibiotics and hormones, fertilizers and pesticides). Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and over 8 percent of global human water use (mostly for irrigation of feed crops). The expansion of the livestock sector is also a major contributor to deforestation.

Religious Reasons for the Vegetarian Diet

Several religions, including Hinduism, recommend vegetarian diets for devout followers. Followers of various other religions, including Buddhism and Judaism, may view vegetarianism as an ideal but not a moral obligation. The underlying reasons are typically centered on the ethical intentions of non-violence and purity.

Cultural Reasons for the Vegetarian Diet

Some cultures are more accepting and encouraging of the vegetarian diet than others and it is therefore more common. Local cuisine tends to be largely meatless. In India, for example, about 40 percent of the population is vegetarian. According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, about 8.5 percent of the population of Israel enjoys a meatless diet. But throughout the European Union, most countries range from two to four percent of the population, according to the European Vegetarian Union.