12 Reasons to Become a Vegetarian: Notes of a Renegade Meat-Eater
Raised in a meat-eating family, at the age of 14 after watching a program on the ugly truths of the meat industry, I finally decided to become a vegetarian. Changing my meat-loving ways was not as hard as I believed it would be. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge I had to face was my own, normally understanding and supportive parents. They tried everything in their power – from reasoning to trickery – to make me give up my crazy idea of becoming a vegetarian.
Now after having been a vegetarian for years (though, I still eat dairy products and occasionally pastries that contain eggs), my parents have finally made peace with the fact that their daughter will not be seduced by crispy chicken wings or tender pork chops with onion-mushroom sauce.
I am happy to tell you that in all these years of not eating meat I have never developed anemia or any other disease which is attributed to vegetarianism. I am absolutely healthy, feel great and I cannot remember the last time I left the table, feeling stuffed to the point where I can hardly breathe or think.
All that said, I want to tell you up front – the purpose of this article is not to convert you into becoming a vegetarian as well. If you love meat, by all means – eat it. It is your personal choice.
The only thing I ask of you is to keep your mind opened to the idea of reducing the amount of meat you consume daily.
Because there are some convincing health reasons to do it:
1. Lower fat consumption.
Modern farm animals are deliberately fattened up to increase profits. Consequently, the meat we buy in the grocery stores is very high in cholesterol and saturated fats. That is why eating less of it is one of the simplest ways to lower blood cholesterol levels, decrease high blood pressure, and even prevent the risk of stroke – which is, by the way, the second leading cause of death in the world.
2. A stunning- looking body.
It is not often that you see an overweight vegetarian and there is a reason. Just cutting the amount of meat you consume and increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables will help you shed extra pound and stay slimmer.
3. Better-looking skin.
Now, if you stuff yourself with potato chips and fried foods every day, vegetarian or not, your skin is not going to get any better. However, on average, vegetarian diets are rich in water and antioxidants that help to flush out toxins and leave your skin looking more radiant.
4. Better nutrition.
While meat is high in proteins, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc and iron, it also contains many different chemicals and pesticides that you do not want to store in your body. Simply by planning your meals wisely, you will still get all the necessary vitamins and microelements that your body needs by eating more greens and less meat.
5. Increased energy.
When your meals consist of less meat and more vegetables, your blood sugar levels become much more stable. As a result, your energy levels will be consistent and you will not get that fatigue feeling after meals.
6. Lower amount of protein.
In the past high protein diets were promoted for weight loss and enhanced athletic ability. This myth has largely contributed to the fact that today on average we consume 150% to 400% over the recommended daily allowance of protein. It means that we eat way more meat than our body actually needs, which can lead to such long-term health problems as diabetes, heart-attack, kidney strain, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease.
7. Reduced amount of hormones and pesticides.
I am not going to traumatize you with all the horror stories about what happens to animals before they become “the meat”. However, the fact remains that – there are over 20,000 different drugs, including sterols, antibiotics and growth hormones that are given to cattle. It is a pity no one warns us that the hamburgers that we give to our children, besides humongous amount of saturated fats, contain at least three cancer-causing chemicals while typical beef -pork hotdogs – contain twice as much!
8. Helping the Planet.
I know that it sounds like a far-fetched claim, but never-the-less there are numerous global problems related to the fact that we consume too much meat – from the extinction of rainforests, to fresh water pollution, to inefficient grain use that contributes to world hunger. Of course, you giving up eating meat alone will not resolve these problems, but your contribution still counts.
9. Lower grocery shopping bills.
Good quality meat usually comes at a hefty price. By substituting meat with delicious-tasting vegetarian dishes a few times a week, you can noticeably cut your food bills, while keeping your family happy and healthy.
10. Longer life.
According to a study from Loma Linda University, vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat-eaters. These findings were later backed up by the China Health Project – the largest population study on diet and health to date.
11. Higher concentration during spiritual practices.
Whether you are meditating, doing Reiki or praying, it is much easier to do it, if you avoid eating meat. I cannot give you scientific-based research to back it up. It is just my personal experience and experience of many other people I know. Maybe it is somehow related to the fact that when animals experience fear, the adrenaline rush causes the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream. With meat consumption these hormones accumulate in our body, preventing us from experiencing true relaxation and peace of mind.
12. It feels good to be a vegetarian.
As Erik Marcus, an author of “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating”, put it “It's a wonderful thing to be able to finish a delicious meal, knowing that no beings have suffered to make it.”
What about you?