Benefits of a Vegan / Vegetarian LifestyleLiving a vegan / vegetarian lifestyle can have major health benefits as well as doing lots of good for the earth.
By: Ruby Martinez, SIbley Scribe
Every year in the U.S., more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food. Not only does eating animals increase the risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, it also harms the environment. But why do we continue to eat meat? Many people answer, “Because it tastes good!”. However, we don’t realize what actually happens to the meat before it arrives on our plates. These health risks, the harm to the environment, and the cruelty of meat industry practices lead me to believe that a vegetarian / vegan lifestyle is the best way to go.
The overwhelming number of animals on factory farms are treated cruelly. They are injected with antibiotics and other drugs. These same drugs can immensely affect the health of these so called “tasty animals”, and of humans as well. The life of these animals is a never-ending nightmare from the time they are born. They are kept in cages where they are unable to see the sun or breathe fresh air until they are sent to the slaughterhouse to await their painful death. By switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet you can save more than 100 animals a year.
Another reason to be vegetarian or vegan? Because eating meat harms the environment. According to Dr. David Brubaker. PhD, at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, “The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs”. The increased demand of meat is causing deforestation and uses the land to breed more animals. By cutting down more and more trees, we are depleting sources of oxygen that are vital to our life here on Earth. Trees use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, but without all the trees to use the CO2 there is no place for the carbon dioxide to go. This contributes to our number one environmental concern, global warming.
A vegetarian diet is clearly healthier, too. Vegetarian foods are better for the body because they are rich in healthy plant proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies desperately need and can get without eating meat. The American Dietetic Association states that a planned vegetarian diet is “healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, July 2009). Vegetarian diets are associated with lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease and lower obesity rates. Not to mention that vegetarian foods taste just as good or even better than meat! There are many ‘fake meat’ alternatives that taste exactly like a regular hot dog or burger minus the harm and guilt.
These vegetarian foods form the foundation of dietary habits that support a lifetime of good health! Imagine a brighter future for the next generation who are happier and healthier and live in a world with fewer environmental problems. We can decrease the risk of developing illness and help our environment by switching just one meal per week to a vegetarian alternative. We could start making a difference by having “Meat free Mondays” as some schools do. Another way to start is to get on PETA’s website and take the pledge to be vegetarian for 30 days.
It’s no coincidence that the number of vegetarians / vegans continues to rise as we come to realize all of the positive effects of this lifestyle. It’s clearly healthier, it is better for the environment, and it prevents unnecessary animal cruelty.
Sources used for this article:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association) ; http://www.chooseveg.com ; http://www.peta.org