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 cattlefeed, 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.
Reason #1 to Choose Vegetarian: Your Health!
Warning - the consumption of meat is hazardous to your health! According to the American Dietetic Association, meat-eaters have an increased risk of heart disease, colon cancer, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, gout, osteoporosis, kidney stones, gallstones, diverticular disease, lung cancer and breast cancer.
Animal products, such as meat and eggs, are the only dietary sources of cholesterol and the chief source of saturated fat, the main causes of heart disease. Not eating these foods reduces the risk of heart attack by 90%. The fiber in vegetarian diets not only removes unneeded cholesterol and other cancer-causing agents, but helps in reversing atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries. A 1990 study demonstrated reversal of even severe coronary disease through the combination of a low-fat vegetarian diet, stress management, moderate exercise and cessation of smoking. Vegetarians overall are 20% less likely to die from heart attack than meat-eaters.
A low fat vegetarian diet, combined with regular exercise, helps reduce blood pressure and can control, or even eliminate, non-insulin dependent diabetes. Many medications to control high blood pressure have a wide range of common and unpleasant side effects, e.g. beta blockers often make patients fatigued and listless, diuretics raise blood cholesterol levels and double the risk of fatal heart attacks, blood vessel dilators can cause impotence in males, and a loss of sexual interest in females.
When the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition put diabetics on a vegetarian diet, 45% of the patients were able to discontinue their use of insulin injections. In a 21-year study of over 27,000 Seventh Day Adventists (followers of a vegetarian diet), their death rate due to diabetes was found to be only 45% that of the general population. A vegan diet (no animal products whatsoever) can actually reverse mature-onset diabetes. When the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and a vegan diet were compared over a 12 week period:The vegan group lost an average of 16 pounds, the ADA group 8 pounds; the ADA group needed as much medication as before, while the vegan group needed considerably less.
Diets high in protein, especially animal protein, can cause the body to excrete more calcium, oxalate and uric acids which form kidney and gallbladder stones. Vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce the chance of forming these stones. An ultrasound study found that 18% of meat-eating women had symptomless gallstones, compared to only 10% in vegetarians. Because a vegetarian diet does not force calcium out of the body, as meat does, vegetarians are at a lower risk for osteoporosis - the weakening of the bones, a major health concern for women.
Vegetarianism can also benefit asthmatics and victims of multiple sclerosis (MS). According to a 1985 year-long study conducted by the University Hospital in Linkoping, Sweden, over 90% of bronchial asthma patients had less severe and less frequent attacks while eating a vegetarian diet, and reduced their need for medication. According to Dr. William Castelli, a switch to a vegetarian diet could help more than 90% of all MS victims arrest the disease process and improve their condition.
Over two decades of research at the Loma Linda University in California reveals that men who eat meat are three times more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than vegetarians. According to a study done by Dr. Takeshi Hirayama of the National Cancer Research Institute of Tokyo, vegetarianism reduces the risk of breast cancer in women by 25%. Japanese women who followed a western style meat-based diet were eight times more likely to develop breast cancer than the women who followed a more traditional plant-based diet.
One other cancer where diet has recently been shown to play a role is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). In a study of over 35,000 American women, those who developed NHL had higher intakes of animal fat, especially from red meat.
Fiber intake is a critical factor in the prevention of cancer, especially of the colon. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported back in the 1970's that there is not a single population in the world with a high meat intake which does not have a high rate of colon cancer.
Animal products are usually high in fat and always devoid of fiber. Vegetarians avoid animal fat, the consumption of which is linked to cancer, and get abundant fiber and vitamins that help prevent cancer. In a University of Hawaii study, vegetarians, on average, ate almost twice as much fiber as the meat eaters, especially cereal fiber. Vegetarians are therefore much less likely to suffer from constipation than meat-eaters. Blood analysis of vegetarians also reveals that they have higher levels of specialized white cells which attack and kill cancer cells. A UK study of over 6000 vegetarians found them 40% less likely to die of cancer than meat-eaters.
How much enhanced longevity can you expect as a vegetarian? The study of vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists found them to have significantly lower death rates than the general population. Men had lower death rates from coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, all cancers combined, and cancer of the colon, rectum and prostate in particular. Women had lower death rates from stroke, diabetes, all cancers combined, and cancer of the colon, rectum, breast and ovaries in particular. The study concluded that the more meat and eggs an individual ate, the more likely they were to die of those diseases. Dr. William Castelli found that vegetarians outlive meat-eaters by about 6 years. Populations that consume high amounts of animal flesh, such as the Greenlanders and Russian Kurgi have life expectancies of only 30 years. Populations such as the East Indian Todas and the Russian Caucasians, who consume little or no meat, have life expectancies of 90-100 years.
What does all this meat-induced disease cost? Researchers estimated that between $28.6 billion and $61.4 billion of USA health expenditure in 1992 could be attributed to meat consumption.
In summary, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from a host of crippling or fatal diseases. A low fat vegetarian diet can not only reduce the personal suffering involved in ill-health, but it can also save the larger community money by decreasing diet-related illnesses. Improving your health can be so simple! By eliminating meat from your diet and replacing it with interesting and tasty vegetarian foodstuffs, you can take a crucial step towards a long life of health and happiness.
Reason #2 to Choose Vegetarian:More Energy and Endurance!
Nearly everyone desires more energy, yet few people make the connection between fatigue and eating meat! Most people, even health professionals, mistakenly believe that eating meat is necessary for good health and strength. In fact, eating animal flesh significantly reduces energy and contributes towards overall ill health.
Scientific studies repeatedly show that a vegetarian diet improves energy and endurance. One study, conducted by Yale professor Irving Fisher, compared the strength and stamina of active meat-eating athletes to that of vegetarian athletes and sedentary vegetarians. He found that flesh eaters had far less endurance than even sedentary vegetarians! Another study found that athletes who switched to a vegetarian diet improved their endurance almost three times as much as those who ate meat.
The power of a balanced vegetarian diet is exemplified in the lives of many world class athletes. Dave Scott, universally recognized as the greatest triathlete in the world, is a vegetarian. He calls the idea that people, especially athletes, need animal protein a "ridiculous fallacy."
Local Hawaii legend Ruth Heidrich is another great example of the power of a vegetarian diet. Following the advice of Dr. John McDougall, Ruth switched to a vegetarian diet after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ruth not only overcame the cancer, she went on to become an award-winning, record-breaking triathlete. She tells her incredible story in the best-selling book, "A Race for Life." Peter Burwash, local tennis pro, has also experienced the benefits of vegetarian nutrition. When Peter experimented with a vegetarian diet, he found that it dramatically improved his athletic performance. After one year of vegetarianism, Peter was found to have the highest fitness index of any athlete, in any sport in Canada!
As these vegetarian athletes know, a vegetarian diet is the perfect source of nutrition for the human body. A vegetarian diet based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables is low in fat, a great source of fiber, and rich in energy boosting vitamins and minerals. The primary component of a balanced vegetarian diet is complex carbohydrates, which are the perfect source for maximum energy and endurance.
The complex carbohydrates found in vegetarian foods are gradually digested (and easily eliminated), providing a steady source of glucose to the blood. Conversely, flesh foods contain virtually no carbohydrates and are very high in fat and protein. The fat and protein in meat are very difficult to digest, and take energy away from the rest of the body causing people to feel tired and sluggish after eating meat. Difficult to digest flesh foods stagnate in the bowels for two to three days creating a toxic overload for the whole body, contributing to fatigue, headaches, a weakened immune system, and many long-term diseases, including cancer.
Iron-deficiency anemia is another cause of weakness and fatigue. Advocates of the meat industry falsely claim that consumption of flesh products is necessary for sufficient iron. In fact, studies consistently show that meat eaters suffer more iron deficiency than vegetarians. Many vegetarian foods, such as tofu, most beans and leafy greens either equal or surpass meat as sources of iron. Calorie per calorie, spinach has fourteen times the iron of the typical slab of flesh!
Excess weight is another significant energy drain. Study after study shows that vegetarians are less likely to be overweight than meat eaters. One study found that vegans (no animal products whatsoever) weighed an average of 10 pounds less than the rest of the population. Another study suggested they weighed 30 pounds less, and a third found that these vegetarians had 30% less body fat than the non-vegetarian population.
The facts are compelling! The idea that meat is needed for strength and energy is a fallacy. Studies repeatedly show that a vegetarian diet is the optimal source of energy for the human body.
Reason #3 to Choose Vegetarian:Avoid Toxic Food Contaminants
In a society where the meat industry has become very big business, we are conditioned to think of "meat" (i.e. the flesh of slaughtered animals) as a wholesome, nutritious food. Most people don't realize that meat products are loaded with poisons and toxins! Yet periodically, harsh "reality checks" alert us to the deadly dangers of eating meat. For example, this past month a bacterial outbreak traced to a Michigan meat processing plant killed nine people and caused three stillbirths; another 60 people were sickened. Every year tens of millions of people become sick after eating contaminated meat! Though some may think eating "organic" meat is the solution, the fact is that dead animal flesh is inherently full of toxins and thus poisonous to the human system. In fact, the list of contaminants found in meat is too long to be adequately covered here, so we've simply touched on some of the most common and/or dangerous meat contaminants:
Mad Cow Disease. This disease is caused by "cow cannibalism" - the practice of feeding dead and diseased animal parts to other animals of the same species. When contracted by humans, Mad Cow Disease causes loss of memory, loss of bodily control, and then death.
Parasites. Toxoplasmosis contaminates eighty-five percent of all pig products; the trichinella spiralis worm is found in many species of carnivores and omnivores; and tapeworms and many other parasites are contracted from eating meat.
Salmonella. Dr. Richard Novick of the Public Health Institute reported to Congress, "The meat we buy is grossly contaminated with both coliform bacteria and salmonella." Over 4,000,000 cases of salmonella poisoning occur annually, causing nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting, chills, and even death. The abuse of antibiotics in factory farms has led to salmonella strains which are resistant not only to antibiotics, but even to cooking. Scientists predict an untreatable epidemic of salmonellosis.
Stress hormones and toxins. When terrified animals are put to death, their bodies immediately release all kinds of hormones and toxins. Consequently, large amounts of uric acid, adrenalin, and other hormones are found in the flesh of slaughtered animals. These fear and stress hormones instigate violent behavior in human beings.
Putrefied products. Meat, fish and eggs all decompose and putrefy extremely rapidly. As soon as an animal is killed, self-destruct enzymes are released, causing the formation of denatured substances called pytolamines, which cause cancer.
Cancer. Literally, cancer tumors are found in "meat" products. Infected and diseased animals are frequently undetected by meat producers/inspectors, and diseased parts, including cancer tumors, are sometimes labeled as "parts" and end up in spam or hot dogs.
Nitrates. Animal flesh naturally turns a sickly gray-green color soon after it is slaughtered. The meat industry hides this discoloration and keeps the meat blood red by adding nitrates and other preservatives. These preservatives are so toxic that cancer researcher Dr. William Lijinsky says, "I don't even feed nitrate-laden foods to my cat."
Hormones. Factory farm livestock are fed vast amounts of synthetic hormones. These hormones cause precocious sexuality and other sexual disorders, weight gain, cancer, and other disturbances in meat eaters. As a result of consuming chemically fattened livestock, British schoolgirls mature sexually at least three years earlier than in the past. In Puerto Rico, some children have matured sexually as early as four to eight years old as a result of exposure to livestock hormones. Young teenage boys developed full breasts! When their exposure to hormone-treated meat and dairy products ended, their symptoms receded.
In the United States, dangerous growth hormones such as Steer-oid, Compudose, Synovex, and others are found in practically every feedlot in the country. The fattening hormone DES, though banned, is still in use by factory farmers. This hormone is so potent that factory farmers who absorbed even minute amounts of it developed symptoms of impotence, infertility, enlarged and tender breasts, and changes in their voice register. Even one molecule of DES is sufficient to trigger cancer. Yet several years after its ban, the FDA found that 500,000 cattle had been illegally implanted with DES!
Pesticides. Flesh products are the most concentrated source of pesticides (i.e. chemical poisons) in the human diet. Ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of toxic chemical residues in the American diet come from meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Pesticides such as dioxin (a component of Agent Orange), heptachlor, PCB's, toxaphene, DDT, aldrin, and kepone are so toxic that even the most minute doses cause cancer, birth defects, abortions, and death, in studies performed on lab animals. The production and use of pesticides is largely unregulated, and as a result toxic pesticides are used in staggering amounts in factory farming. The fat-soluble pesticides become concentrated in the fatty flesh of the animals, ensuring a plentiful supply of poison in the diet of meat-eaters.
Eat veggie, be healthy! The evidence is overwhelming. Eating meat is bad for your health, bad for the environment, and bad for everyone. Conversely, a wholesome vegetarian diet is delicious and nutritious - the perfect source of fuel for the human body. By choosing a vegetarian diet, you can experience optimum health, and the happiness of living at peace with your friends in the animal kingdom.
Written by: Rebecca Saltzburg
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