I’ve been a vegetarian ever since I was 13.
Why? Because I love animals and I can’t fathom the idea of murdering them for my personal consumption. I’m 110% convinced animals are not meant for human consuption. And of course, I’m an animal rights advocate.
However, I think veganism is a bit fundamentalist. I would never be a vegan.
And I’m not one of those crazy activists that go preaching about how eating animals is wrong. It’s a personal choice. I choose not to eat them, other people choose to do so. Sure, I wish more people would become vegetarians, but that’s utopic. I respect those who choose to eat meat as long as they respect me for choosing not to.
But , from my little place on the vast world of the internet, I choose to do this. A wide explanation as to why being a vegetarian is a good choice, some tips, and some advice even for those who choose to keep having a non-vegetarian diet. I’m not here to “convert” anyone. I’m here to provide some facts and information.
As you can imagine, being a vegetarian raises a lot of eyebrows and questions in people. Especially 11 years ago, when it wasn’t so “trendy” and I was just a pre-teen.
The most common misconception about vegetarianism is, “the human body is made to eat meat”. This is a false statement, and I’ll tell you why.
Compare the anatomy and physiology of man with that of a typical herbivore (for example an ape) with that of a typical carnivore (for example a tiger) and you will notice that first of all that herbivores have jaws that move laterally and vertically, and teeth suited for grinding. Carnivore’s jaws move only vertically, and their teeth are only suited for ripping. Secondly, carnivores have 15 times more hydrochloric acid in their stomachs than herbivores such as apes. Lastly carnivores such as tigers have an average only three feet of intestine. This is done so that flesh can be expelled before the body before it has time to putrefy and go rotten. Whereas herbivores have over 22 feet of intestines. Mankind’s intestines generally range from 18 to 24 feet in that range of 22 feet.
Our so-called “canine teeth” are “canine” in name only. Other herbivore mammals, like, for example, apes, have “canines”, and chimps, who are almost exclusively vegan, have massive canines compared to ours.
Our teeth, saliva, stomach acid, and intestines are most similar to other herbivores, and dissimilar to carnivores and true omnivores. The saliva of carnivores is acidic. The saliva of herbivores is alkaline, which helps pre-digest plant foods. Human saliva is alkaline.
Human teeth were not made to tear meat apart. Tiger’s teeth, for example, can swallow raw meat whole. However, humans have to cook the meat so as to break down the proteins in the meat. Our stomach also has HCl only enough to digest grains, fruits, and seeds. It is not concentrated enough to digest meat. Cats can digest meat easily because they sleep a lot and have stronger HCl in their stomachs. Cows and horses get their protein from, guess what, plants. The molecules or carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are enough protein for herbivores.
Also, have you noticed? Carnivores have claws. Claws are used to catch and hold prey in carnivorous mammals. Do humans have claws? Guess what, we don’t.
So, I know you’ll say, aren’t humans anatomically suited to be omnivores?
Nope. We don’t anatomically match up with omnivorous animals anymore than we do with carnivorous ones. Omnivores are more similar to carnivores than they are to herbivores. For a more detailed summary table that compares the properties of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores side by side, see this page: Comparative Anatomy & Taxonomy
The link above also debunks the opportunistic feeder theory, which states that because humans can eat like omnivores, that we must therefore be omnivores. And this is of course false because mere behavior doesn’t indicate suitability. There are plenty of things we can do as a species that would threaten our survival if we all considered them suitable default behavior, such as shooting each other, lobbing hand grenades, or sending spam.
To sum up, meat is not part of mankind’s natural diet. Mankind was not created to be a meat eater. It does not take much common sense or knowledge to see to whom we have more in common: it is apparent that mankind by virtue of his or her anatomy and physiology was never created for or intended to eat meat.
Another question I get a lot, is, “well, what do you eat?”
Where do you get your vitamins from?
Protein can be found in whole grains, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and veggie meats (texturized vegetable protein (TVP), also known as textured soy protein (TSP))
Iron can be found in beans, cashews, raisins, spinach, tomato juice, tempah, rhubarb.
B12 can be found in fortified cereals, milk or soy milk, and multivitamins.
If you’re considering becoming a vegetarian…
The transition from non-veggie to veggie is not that hard. Like I said, if you live in the US, it will be more than easy for you. You have a lot of choices, lot of meat replacements. If I could become a vegetarian in a country where EVERYTHING HAS MEAT OR ANIMAL LEFTOVERS IN IT, INCLUDING SWEETS AND COOKIES…well, so can you.
Go see a health nutritionist
Not everyone is the same. For example, I have a genetic condition that makes me be anemic, and I have to take iron supplies. Well, recently they found out I just don’t absorb iron, so even if I ate an entire cow, I’d still be lacking iron. So I have to get iron shots every 15 days for two months, twice a year. But that’s just me. Go get a medical check, and find out the best way to start your vegetarian diet.
Find online recipes!
You’ll be surprised at the vast variety of yummy veggie meals you can find.
Check chow.com, epicurious.com, allrecipies.com, vegweb.com, vegsoc.org
Be a caring consumer!
Vegetarianism is not about avoiding meat only. You can also help by avoiding products from companies who test on animals. Read more about this here
Now… you want reasons? Science facts, anyone?
1- You’ll live a lot longer. Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University. These findings are backed up by the China Health Project (the largest population study on diet and health to date), which found that Chinese people who eat the least amount of fat and animal products have the lowest risks of cancer, heart attack and other chronic degenerative diseases. And a British study that tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years found that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases.
2- You’ll save your heart. Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in the United States, and the standard American diet (SAD) that’s laden with saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy is largely to blame. Children as young as age 3 who are raised on fast food and junk food show early signs of heart disease, according to the Bogalusa Heart Study done at the Louisiana State University. Cardiovascular disease is found in one in nine women aged 45 to 64 and in one in three women over 65. Heart attacks are also deadlier to the fairer sex: 53 percent of women who have heart attacks die from them, compared with 47 percent of men. Today, the average American male eating a meat-based diet has a 50 percent chance of dying from heart disease. His risk drops to 15 percent if he cuts out meat; it goes to 4 percent if he cuts out meat, dairy and eggs. Partly responsible is the fact that fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidant nutrients that protect the heart and its arteries. Plus, produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Incidentally, cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters.
3- You can put more money in your mutual fund. Replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.
4- You’ll reduce your risk of cancer. A study in The International Journal of Cancer concluded that red meat is strongly associated with breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute says that women who eat meat every day are nearly four times more likely to get breast cancer than those who don’t. By contrast, women who consume at least one serving of vegetables a day reduce their risk of breast cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent, according to the Harvard Nurses Health Study. Studies done at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg suggest that this is because vegetarians’ immune systems are more effective in killing off tumor cells than meat eaters’. Studies have also found a plant-based diet helps protect against prostate, colon and skin cancers.
5- You’ll add color to your plate. Meat, chicken and fish tend to come in boring shades of brown and beige, but fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow. Disease-fighting phytochemicals are responsible for giving produce their rich, varied hues. So cooking by color is a good way to ensure you are eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.
6- You might lose weight. On average, vegetarians are slimmer than meat eaters, and when we diet, we keep the weight off up to seven years longer. That’s because diets that are higher in vegetable proteins are much lower in fat and calories than the SAD. Vegetarians are also less likely to fall victim to weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. (this doesn’t apply to me tho, ha!)
7- You’ll give your body a spring cleaning. Giving up meat helps purge the body of toxins (pesticides, environmental pollutants, preservatives) that overload our systems and cause illness. When people begin formal detoxification programs, their first step is to replace meats and dairy products with fruits and vegetables and juices. “These contain phytochemicals that help us detox naturally,” says Chris Clark, M.D., medical director of The Raj, an Ayurvedic healing center in Fairfield, Iowa, which specializes in detox programs.
8- You’ll make a strong political statement. Each day, 22 million animals are slaughtered only in the US to support the appetite for meat.
9- Your meals will taste delicious. Vegetables are an ever-changing parade of flavors and colors and textures and tastes.
10- You’ll help reduce waste and air pollution. Circle 4 Farms in Milford, Utah, which raises 2.5 million pigs every year, creates more waste than the entire city of Los Angeles. And this is just one farm. Each year, the nation’s factory farms, collectively produce 2 billion tons of manure, a substance that’s rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the country’s top 10 pollutants. And that’s not even counting the methane gas released by cows, pigs and poultry (which contributes to the greenhouse effect); the ammonia gases from urine; poison gases that emanate from manure lagoons; toxic chemicals from pesticides; and exhaust from farm equipment used to raise feed for animals.
11- Your bones will last longer. The average bone loss for a vegetarian woman at age 65 is 18 percent; for non-vegetarian women, it’s double that. Researchers attribute this to the consumption of excess protein—the average meat-eating American woman eats 144 percent over the recommended daily allowance; the average man eats 175 percent more.
Excess protein interferes with the absorption and retention of calcium and actually prompts the body to excrete calcium, laying the ground for the brittle bone disease osteoporosis. Animal proteins, including milk, make the blood acidic, and to balance that condition, the body pulls calcium from bones. So rather than rely on milk for calcium, vegetarians turn to dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and legumes, which, calorie for calorie, are superior sources.
12 You’ll help reduce famine. Right now, 72 percent of all grain produced in the United States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. It takes 15 pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. But if the grain were given directly to people, there’d be enough food to feed the entire planet. In addition, using land for animal agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef.
13- You’ll avoid toxic chemicals. The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of pesticide residue in our diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic; lead, cadmium) that cannot be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and dairy products are also laced with steroids and hormones.
* 101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian by Pamela Teisler-Rice (Viva Vegie Society, 1995)
* Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus (McBooks Press, 1998)
* 365 Good Reasons to be Vegetarian by Victor Parachin (Avery Publishing Group, 1998)
* World Watch Vital Signs (W.W. Norton, 1998)
* The Perfectly Contented Meat-Eater’s Guide to Vegetarianism by Mark Warren Reinhardt (Continuum, 1998)
* The Vegan Sourcebook by Joanne Stepaniak, M.S., E.D. (Lowell House, 1998)
*Bibliography for: “22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now - benefits of vegetarian diet”
Norine Dworkin “22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now - benefits of vegetarian diet”. Vegetarian Times.