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Vegetarianism

 

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The earliest records of vegetarianism come from the sixth century B.C.E., in India, Greece and the Greek civilization, and it stemmed from a desire not to harm animals.

Early traces of vegetarianism in Europe disappeared with the introduction of Christianity to the Roman Empire. Many orders of monks in medieval Europe either banned or limited meat consumption as a gesture of personal sacrifice or abstinence, but they ate fish.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, vegetarianism reappeared in Western society. As research continues to support the benefits of a vegetarian diet, more people could become vegetarian in the future.

Adopting a vegetarian diet can be the perfect way to stay healthy and happy.  A vegetarian diet is a complete diet, which is associated with high consumption of fiber, vitamins C and E, folic acid, magnesium, unsaturated fat, and numerous phytochemicals. And this is why vegetarians have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart diseases. Vegetarian food is also easy for the body to digest, takes lesser time to cook, is healthy and most importantly saves your money. Vegetables are vital not just for our healthy living but for the environment too.

It is not necessary to eat meat to get all the nutrients needed for good health. A person who chooses not to eat meat may enjoy better health, because they will eat more plant-based foods, and because they may be more active in making healthy choices.

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Click here for Why Vegetarianism ? -

People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. Some people follow a largely vegetarian diet because they can’t afford to eat meat. Becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce, more vegetarian dining options, and the growing culinary influence of cultures with largely plant-based diets.

Approximately six to eight million adults in the United States eat no meat, fish, or poultry, according to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a non profit organization that disseminates information about vegetarianism. Several million more have eliminated red meat but still eat chicken or fish. About two million have become vegans, forgoing not only animal flesh but also animal-based products such as milk, cheese, eggs, and gelatin.

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. According to the Dietetic Association in India, “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.”

“Appropriately planned” is the operative term. Unless you follow recommended guidelines on nutrition, fat consumption, and weight control, becoming a vegetarian won’t necessarily be good for you. A diet of soda, cheese pizza, and candy, after all, is technically “vegetarian.” For health, it’s important to make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s also vital to replace saturated and trans fats with good fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. And always keep in mind that if you eat too many calories, even from nutritious, low-fat, plant-based foods, you’ll gain weight. So it’s also important to practice portion control, read food labels, and engage in regular physical activity.

You can get many of the health benefits of being vegetarian without going all the way. For example, a Mediterranean eating pattern — known to be associated with longer life and reduced risk of several chronic illnesses — features an emphasis on plant foods with a sparing use of meat. Even if you don’t want to become a complete vegetarian, you can steer your diet in that direction with a few simple substitutions, such as plant-based sources of protein — beans or tofu, for example — or fish instead of meat a couple of times a week.

Only a vegetarian diet is right for you. Better health should be your goal. 

Varieties of vegetarians

Strictly speaking, vegetarians are people who don’t eat meat, poultry, or seafood. But people with many different dietary patterns call themselves vegetarians, including the following:

Vegans (total vegetarians): The strictest type of vegetarian, refrain from meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.

Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do consume dairy products.

Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs.

Pollotarians : Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian).

Pescatarians: Eat fish but no meat.

SemiVegetarians: Don’t eat red meat but do eat chicken and fish.

Flexitarians: Stick to vegetarian diet most of the time but eat meat occasionally.

Click here for Can becoming a vegetarian protect you against major diseases?

YES. Compared with meat eaters, vegetarians tend to consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and more vitamins C and E, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals), such as carotenoids and flavonoids. As a result, they’re likely to have lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index (BMI), all of which are associated with longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases.

But there still aren’t enough data to say exactly how a vegetarian diet influences long-term health. It’s difficult to tease out the influence of vegetarianism from other practices that vegetarians are more likely to follow, such as not smoking, not drinking excessively, and getting adequate exercise. But here’s what some of the research has shown so far:

Heart disease. There’s some evidence that vegetarians have a lower risk for cardiac events (such as a heart attack) and death from cardiac causes. In one of the largest studies — a combined analysis of data from five prospective studies involving more than 76,000 participants published several years ago — vegetarians were, on average, 25% less likely to die of heart disease. This result confirmed earlier findings from studies comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists (members of this religious group avoid caffeine and don’t drink or smoke; about 40% are vegetarians). In another study involving 65,000 people, researchers found a 19% lower risk of death from heart disease among vegetarians.

For heart protection, it’s best to choose high-fiber whole grains and legumes, which are digested slowly and have a low glycemic index — that is, they help keep blood sugar levels steady. Soluble fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels. Refined carbohydrates and starches like potatoes, white rice, and white-flour products cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which increases the risk of heart attack and diabetes (a risk factor for heart disease).

Nuts are also heart-protective. They have a low glycemic index and contain many antioxidants, vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, and healthy fatty acids. The downside: nuts pack a lot of calories, so restrict your daily intake to a small handful (about an ounce). The upside: because of their fat content, even a small amount of nuts can satisfy the appetite.

Walnuts, in particular, are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits. Even so, fish are the best source of omega-3s, and it’s not clear whether plant-derived omega-3s are an adequate substitute for fish in the diet. One study suggests that omega-3s from walnuts and fish both work to lower heart disease risk, but by different routes.

Cancer. Hundreds of studies suggest that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, and there’s evidence that vegetarians have a lower incidence of cancer than non-vegetarians do. But the differences aren’t large. A vegetarian diet can make it easier to get the recommended minimum of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but a purely vegetarian diet is not necessarily better than a plant-based diet that also includes fish or poultry.

If you stop eating red meat (whether or not you become a vegetarian), you’ll eliminate a risk factor for colon cancer. It’s not clear whether avoiding all animal products reduces the risk further. Vegetarians usually have lower levels of potentially carcinogenic substances in their colons, but studies comparing cancer rates in vegetarians and non-vegetarians have shown inconsistent results.

Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that a predominantly plant-based diet can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. In studies, vegetarians’ risk of developing diabetes was half that of non-vegetarians, even after taking BMI into account. The Harvard-based Women’s Health Study found a similar correlation between eating red meat (especially processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs) and diabetes risk, after adjusting for BMI, total calorie intake, and exercise.

What about bone health?

Some women are reluctant to try a vegetarian diet — especially one that doesn’t include calcium-rich dairy products — because they’re concerned about osteoporosis. Lacto-ovo vegetarians (see “Varieties of vegetarians”) consume at least as much calcium as meat-eaters, but vegans typically consume less. In the EPIC-Oxford study, 75% of vegans got less than the recommended daily amount of calcium, and vegans in general had a relatively high rate of fractures. But vegans who consumed at least 525 milligrams of calcium per day were not especially vulnerable to fractures.

Certain vegetables can supply calcium, including bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, collards, and kale. (Spinach and Swiss chard, which also contain calcium, are not such good choices, because along with the calcium they have oxalates, which make it harder for the body to absorb calcium.) Moreover, the high potassium and magnesium content of fruits and vegetables reduces blood acidity, lowering the urinary excretion of calcium.

People who follow a vegetarian diet and especially a vegan diet may be at risk of getting insufficient vitamin D and vitamin K, both needed for bone health. Although green leafy vegetables contain some vitamin K, vegans may also need to rely on fortified foods, including some types of soy milk, rice milk, organic orange juice, and breakfast cereals. They may also want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

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Click here for Health benefits of being vegetarian

Vegetarian diets are usually rich in fiber, and lower in calories and fat than a non-vegetarian diet. Eating this way, whether for a few meals or for decades, can be beneficial to your health in loads of ways, including:

  • Weight Control Following a plant-based diet usually means you’ll take in fewer calories overall (so long as you’re not swapping meat for too many unhealthy simple carbs like white bread and pasta). Studies have found vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) on average compared with non-vegetarians.
  • Heart Help Without meat, your diet will be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which ends up reducing your risk of heart disease. Vegetarians tend to have lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol.
  • Hypertension Management Eating a plant-based diet may help lower high blood pressure.
  • Improve Insulin Response Going vegetarian won’t cure type 2 diabetes, but it may help stabilize your blood sugar and make your body more responsive to insulin as long as you’re eating a balanced diet. It could also reduce your risk of other complications related to type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancer Protection Vegetarians have lower cancer rates than non-vegetarians, suggesting an association between following a plant-based diet and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk Some studies suggest people who fill their plates with plants also tend to have lower rates of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that may raise your risk of chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Vegan diets lowers Blood sugar levels Going vegan may have benefits for type 2 Daibetes and declining kidney function.
  • Reduces pain from Arthiritis Researchers have reported that a vegan diet have positive effects on people with different types of Arthritis.
  • Vegan diet is richer in certain nutrients Whole grain, fruits, vegetables beans, peas nuts and seeds make u a large proportion of vegan diet, they contribute  to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients.

More on the Vegetarian Diet

All of these health benefits boil down to one major one: Being a vegetarian may help you live longer. And research shows that there’s a correlation between health benefits and how strict a vegetarian diet one follows, with strict vegetarians seeing the greatest health benefits, followed by lacto-vegetarians, pescatarians, and non-vegetarians.

The Vegetarian Diet’s Effect on Weight Loss and Weight Management

With a diet filled with vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, vegetarians take in a whole lot of fiber. Fiber helps promote fullness and can lead to weight loss if you take in fewer calories overall.

One study involving people with type 2 diabetes found following a vegetarian diet was almost twice as effective at helping with weight loss as following a low-calorie diet. Overall, vegetarians tend to have lower BMIs than meat eaters, and research suggests vegetarianism could help protect against obesity.

To see these weight loss benefits, vegetarians need to stick to healthy whole foods and avoid overeating. With all of the new animal-free junk food on the market, it’s become increasingly easier to eat hyper palatable [vegetarian] foods to the point of weight gain.

 Health risks of being vegetarian –

Experts recommend meeting with a registered dietician who can help you put together a meal plan to make sure you’re sourcing enough appropriate nutrients and sticking to a reasonable amount of calories each day. The dietician can also advise on foods to eat or supplements to take to avoid deficiencies.

Here are a few nutrients that vegetarians risk being deficient in, plus some vegetarian-friendly ideas of how to get your fill:

  • Protein found in nuts, peanut butter, grains, legumes, eggs, dairy, tofu, tempeh and seitan
  • Iron found in legumes, whole grains, fortified cereals, seeds, and tofu
  • Calcium found in milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and fortified non dairy milk
  • Zinc can be sourced from dried beans, fortified cereals, nuts, seeds, dairy, and nutritional yeast
  • Vitamin B12 a vitamin found in dairy, fortified breakfast cereal, soy milk, eggs, and nutritional yeast
  • Vitamin D most easily found in cow’s milk

Because vegetarians don’t usually eat as many calories as non-vegetarians, it may not be a good diet for children and teens who are still growing.

Potential challenges of being vegetarian –

The biggest challenge many vegetarians run into is resisting meat-filled foods they’ve enjoyed in the past, such as turkey or a hot dog. You’ll likely need to drastically rethink your meals. Most of us were raised with meat at the center of the plate and having to recalculate that requires a transition period.

Dining at restaurants can also be a challenge, though more and more eateries now have veg-friendly items such as veggie burgers on their menus. Ordering a salad plus an appetizer without any meat or fish is also a good bet. Pescatarians have an easier time dining out because fish is readily available on many menus.

Click here for Tips for success for going vegetarianism –

Dietician says going vegetarian can be healthy — so long as you know what you’re doing. They agrees and emphasizes that a vegetarian diet needs to be appropriately planned.

Here are some ideas for how to do so successfully:

  • Cut meat from your diet gradually. Rather than going vegetarian overnight, try adding a few meatless meals to your menu each week until you slowly phase out meat.
  • Work with a professional. Be aware of the potential nutritional deficiencies and plan your meals accordingly with help from a registered dietician. With all drastic dietary changes, there are health risks, it’s important to pay close attention to those potential deficiencies.
  • Meal prep! Choose your meat-free foods wisely and keep your fridge stocked with healthy vegetarian options. Meal prepping by chopping up vegetables to toss in a salad or making batches of quinoa or farro to have on hand is also a good idea.
  • Experiment with different flavors. Try out different spices and seasonings to make your meals interesting.
  • Make small tweaks to your favorite dishes. If you’re feeling stuck, try to put a vegetarian spin on your favorite meals. For instance, try vegetarian chili filled with beans instead of chili made with ground beef.
  • Source new recipes. Refer to websites, cookbooks, and social media to find recipes you love. Then, tweak them and add them to your weekly menu. It becomes second nature rather rapidly.

Nutritional Support :

A wide range of products is currently available to support vegetarians and specifically vegans in their dietary choices and as such offers them the same level of safety and convenience enjoyed by non-vegetarians. Some examples are non-dairy milks, fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, juices and spreads, as well as supplements. Meat-free alternatives, including meat ‘analogues’, which resemble meat in texture, can be substituted for meat in recipes. Vegetarian ready-meals are widely available and many manufacturers voluntarily label their products as suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Otherwise, the list of ingredients, which is a mandatory labeling element on food and drink packages in Europe, provides all the information required to assess the suitability of a specific product in the context of a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Soy, in its various forms (plain beans, tofu, etc.), is a useful addition to the vegetarian/vegan diet. It can meet protein needs as effectively as animal protein, and some preparations can be considered sources of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (but not EPA and DHA). Soy is also rich in iron in a protein-bound form that appears to be readily absorbed. Some minor plant compounds in soy – referred to as phytochemicals – are also thought to have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and some cancers. Note that other beans and legumes are also good sources of protein and minerals, so check what is in season.

Vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 include milk and dairy products as well as eggs, all at the same time good sources of high-quality protein. This list implies that vitamin B12 is one of the most critical nutrients for vegans, who may need to use supplements or rely on yeast extract spreads to meet their requirements.

Click here for Surprising ways your body can change when you become a vegetarian -

Everybody needs something different in order to feel their best, so what you decide to eat on a daily basis is entirely up to you. If you feel great after eating a burger, or chicken, or fish, then go for it. But if you prefer to live that veggie life, or if you’d like to give it a try, you might notice the changes to your body when you go vegetarian.

In many ways, a diet high in vegetables and whole grains can improve your health, and even lower your chances of developing of certain diseases. Vegetarian diets decrease the risk of many forms of cancer, heart disease, gallstones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and diabetes. People who eat no meat also tend to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.”

While there are many benefits to eating meat, there is also a lot of research supporting a vegetarian lifestyle. The true benefits of vegetarianism come when you focus your diet on healthy, nutrient-rich whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Of course, this lifestyle preference is completely up to you, and what you are comfortable with, but if you are thinking of going full-on veggie, experts say there is a lot to be gained.

Here are a few interesting ways a vegetarian diet may change your body.

  1. Your mood will improve.
  2. Your taste buds will change.
  3. You might take longer to recover after working out.
  4. You will notice more energy.
  5. You might feel uncomfortable in initial phase.
  6. You will sleep like a baby.
  7. You will feel fuller longer.
  8. You will have clearer skin.
  9. Your hormones can change.
  10. Increases your Life span.
  11. Lowers your Cholesterol levels.
  12. Less risk of stroke and obesity.
  13. Reduces risk of Diabetes.
  14. Fighting Disease.
  15. High fiber Content.
  16. Reduces your Depression.
  17. Improves metabolism.
  18. Reduces the risk of Cataract development.
  19. You will have lean figure.
  20. Less Toxicity.
  21. Improves your athletic performance.
  22. You will start reading nutrition labels and identify potential hazards.
  23. You will find difference in muscle recovery.
  24. You might feel the urge to use more supplements.
  25. Less Animal cruelty.

 Following are few ways veganism affects your body.

A well-balanced, whole-foods vegan diet inevitably relies more heavily on foods which can contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients and therefore is associated with a number of health benefits.

1.A healthier Heart – A vegan diet may help you maintain a healthier heart, primarily due to its higher content of fibre, antioxidants and other plant phytochemicals from fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes. When comparing vegans to vegetarians and the typical western diet, vegans have been found to benefit from a potential 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. A higher intake of soluble fibre has also been found to reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream.

  1. A better BMI – Vegan diets have a natural tendency to reduce calorie intake, depending on how well balanced the diet is and what the consumer’s diet looked like before. Particularly due to the reduction in saturated fat from animal-based foods. As such, vegans have a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity than non-vegans. Research has even found vegan diets to be more effective for losing weight than other types of diets specifically design for weight loss. It is particularly popular amongst dieters who don’t want to actively focus on cutting calories.
  2. Reduced risk of Diabetes – Clinical studies have confirmed that a vegan diet tends to reduce blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and even lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 78%. A whole-foods, plant-based diet has even been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics more than the diets recommended by national diabetes and heart associations. Diabetics who substitute meat for plant protein may also reduce their risk of poor kidney function.
  3. Less Inflammation – Certain types of animal-based foods can be very inflammatory to the body and so by replacing these with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes that are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids we allow the body to fight and reduce systemic inflammation. This protects tissues from long term oxidative damage which can over time lead to many chronic diseases including arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and even cancer if not addressed.
  4. Improved Mood – Few studies have been conducted on the effects of a vegan diet on the brain however there is evidence to suggest that plant-based eating can help to control emotional states including depression, anxiety, fatigue and a sense of well being. This again may be due in part to the benefit of increases levels of antioxidants found in plant-based foods that increase brain health, as well as a reduction in glycotoxins which are found in meat products and cause an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation.
  5. Healthier Cholesterol level – Scientists have shown that one specific vegetarian diet can lower cholesterol almost as well as treatment with medication. Levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol that causes clogging in coronary arteries, fell by almost 30 percent in participants who followed the diet. This was only slightly lower than those who used lovastatin alongside their usual diet. The diet consisted of almonds, soy proteins, high-fiber foods such as oats and barley, and a special margarine with plant sterols, found in leafy green vegetables and vegetable oils.
  6. Lower risk of developing Cancer – Research shows that, overall, vegetarians have a lower risk of many different types of cancer, compared with meat eaters. A vegetarian diet has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular risk factors. Studies have found that the more meat people consume, the higher their risk of type 2 diabetes. Vegetarian food tends to be lower in fat, especially saturated fats, and higher in fiber, than animal-based foods.

 

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Click here for Effects on health on switching to vegan Diet -

Veganism, the plant-based diet which shuns meat and dairy, is having its time in the sun. Since 2008, there has been a 20% increase in the number of self-described vegans globally. Where this motivation stems from is varied, but includes concerns about animal welfare, worries about the environment and religious reasons.

Many people, though, seek a healthier diet. Research suggests that veganism can have health benefits, if well planned. For those who have pursued a diet rich in meat and dairy for most of their lives, embarking on a vegan diet can lead to significant changes within the body.

The first few weeks

The first thing that someone starting a vegan diet might notice is an energy boost with the removal of the processed meat that is found in many omnivorous diets, in favor of fruit, vegetables and nuts. These foods will boost your vitamin, mineral and fiber levels and thinking ahead about your meals and snacks rather than relying on convenience foods can help sustain consistent energy levels.

As time without animal products grows into weeks, there is likely to be a shift in bowel function either towards a more regular, healthy pattern or an increase in bloating, wind and loose motions. This is due to the higher fiber content of a vegan diet and the simultaneous increase in carbohydrates that ferment in the gut and can cause irritable bowel syndrome.

This may settle eventually and could lead to some positive changes in the diversity of the bacteria in the colon, depending on whether a vegan diet is made up of processed food and refined carbohydrates or is well planned and balanced. Although not proven yet, scientists believe that a high species diversity for gut bacteria could be beneficial for the whole system, in the same way that ecosystems are stronger as a result of lots of different types of species thriving.

After three months –

Few months into a vegan diet and some people may find that the increase in fruit and vegetables and reduced processed food can help acne to clear up. By this point however, your stores of vitamin D might be dropping as key sources of it in our diet come from meat, fish and dairy, and it isn’t always noticeable until it’s too late. Vitamin D isn’t well understood but it’s essential in keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy and deficiency has been linked with cancer, heart disease, migraines and depression.

This is because vitamin D stores are only thought to last about two months in the body. How long your stores last will depend on the time of year that you decide to go vegan because the body can make vitamin D from sunlight. Making sure you eat plenty of fortified foods or take a supplement is important, especially in the winter months.

Within a few months, a well-balanced vegan diet which is low in salt and processed food may have impressive benefits for cardiovascular health, helping to prevent heart disease, stroke and reducing the risk of diabetes. As the intake of nutrients like iron, zinc and calcium are reduced on a vegan diet, our bodies get better at absorbing them from the intestine. The adaptation may be enough to prevent deficiencies in some people but not for everyone, in which case supplements can fill the shortfall.

After six months –

Approaching a year on a vegan diet, vitamin B12 stores may become depleted. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is essential to the healthy functioning of blood and nerve cells and can only be found in animal products. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include breathlessness, exhaustion, poor memory and tingling in the hands and feet.

B12 deficiency is easily prevented by eating three portions of fortified food per day or taking a supplement, but managing it is very important, as any deficiency would negate the benefits of a vegan diet for heart disease and stroke risk and can cause permanent nerve and brain damage.

A few years down the line and even our bones will start to notice the change. Our skeleton is a mineral store and up until the age of 30 we can add minerals to it from our diet, but after that, our bones can’t absorb minerals anymore and so getting enough calcium when we’re young is vital.

After the age of 30, our bodies harvest the calcium from our skeleton for use in the body, and if we don’t replenish the calcium in our blood through our diet, our bones fill the deficit and become brittle as a result.

Vegetables rich in calcium like kale and brocolli may protect bones, but many vegans don’t meet their calcium requirements and there is a 30% increased risk of fracture among vegans when compared to vegetarians and omnivores. Plant-based calcium is also harder to absorb and therefore supplements or plenty of fortified foods is recommended.

When contemplating the years ahead on a vegan diet, balance is key. Well-balanced vegan diets may have major health benefits. Many of those benefits can be offset by deficiencies if the diet isn’t managed carefully, but supermarkets and food outlets are making it easier than ever to enjoy a varied and exciting vegan diet and our appetite for meat overall is declining. With the right preparation, a vegan diet can be good for human health.

Reasons to Choose vegetarian –

1) Your health: prevent disease. Meat-eating has been linked with cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and many other devastating diseases. By eliminating meat from your diet you can take a crucial step towards a long life of health and happiness.

2) Increased energy and endurance: A vegetarian diet improves your stamina, concentration, and sense of well-being. In one study, athletes who switched to a vegetarian diet improved their endurance to almost 3 times as much as those who remained carnivorous.

3) Avoid toxic food contaminants: Flesh foods are loaded with dangerous poisons and contaminants such as hormones, herbicides and pesticides, and antibiotics. As these toxins are all fat-soluble, they concentrate in the fatty flesh of the animals. Not to mention the viruses, bacteria and parasites such as salmonella, trichinella and other worms, and toxoplasmosis parasites.

4) Humans are by design vegetarian: our flat teeth are perfect for grinding grains and vegetables, not for tearing apart animal flesh. Similarly, our hands are designed for gathering, not for flesh-ripping. Our saliva contains the enzyme alpha-amylase, the sole purpose of which is to digest the complex carbohydrates in plant foods. (This enzyme is not found in the saliva of carnivores.) Basically we have all the right apparatus to consume vegetarian products, and none of the right apparatus for flesh foods.

5) Care for the environment: by improperly using animals for food, we are eating ourselves off the planet. The raising of animals specifically to kill them and eat them has resulted in incredible waste and devastation of our precious resources. Just one example of the consequences is the fact that due to plundering our farmlands to fatten animals for slaughter, over 4 million acres of cropland are being lost to erosion in this country every year.

6) Help end world hunger: every day forty thousand children on this planet needlessly starve to death. According to the Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, when used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165 pounds of edible cow flesh.

7) Become a more peaceful person: when we consume animal flesh products we are necessarily at odds with nature and our fellow living beings. Consumption of flesh foods has been scientifically linked with violent and aggressive behavior.

8) Have compassion for animals: animals who are raised for slaughter needlessly experience incredible suffering throughout their life and death. Many people try not to think of the torturous experiences of the animal whose flesh ended up in their hamburger or on their dinner table. But if it is distasteful to think about, consider what it is like to experience it.

9) Vegetarianism is moral and ethical: give the devastating consequences of meat eating on an individual, social and ecological level, as thinking, caring beings we should choose vegetarianism. Many great philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Leo Tolstoy, and George Bernard Shaw have taught the morality of vegetarianism.

10) Animals are God’s property and have a right to life: the living beings temporarily encaged in animal bodies are not here for us to harm and exploit. We are meant to act as caretakers and protectors of animals and the planet, not exploiters and killers. Many world religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and Jainists all teach that eating animal flesh is wrong.

 

Why switch ?

Because there are so many health, economic, and ethical reasons to switch from regular to vegetarian dieting, why not give it a try? However, when doing so be sure to plan your meals carefully to get plenty of protein, iron, calcium, zinc, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

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