Recently, vegetarian diets made lots of controversies, but there was no clear answer that sets what’s right and what’s wrong about it till now. First, let’s get to know its concept; the idea of vegetarianism is mainly about curbing your intake on meat. Most vegetarians adopt this diet due to a variety of reasons, to mention some: they refer to the ethical part of slaughtering animals for food while there are vegetables and fruits available, others are motivated to adopt vegetarian diets due to health and fitness, environmental awareness, or cultural and ethnic practices.
There is a large variety of vegetarian diets, to list the most common of them:
The vegan (totally vegetarian) diet includes only food that is 100% from plants: fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. Vegans also avoid cheese because of the enzymes/cultures, which are derived from the animal’s body. And there is the newly appeared type of vegans: Raw vegans who only eat raw food. And there is the lactovegetarian diet which includes plant foods plus cheese and other dairy products, and finally Semi-vegetarians who don’t eat red meat but do eat chicken as well as fish, dairies and eggs.
What’s the best way to keep milk fresh? Leave it in the cow.
Some vegetarians are not limited to only avoiding meat but also, they stay away from consumer goods that are from animal derivatives, this includes leather wrist bands for watches, leather handbags, leather belts, even if it is from inedible animals such as snakes, they still limit themselves from wearing these fashion goods because they consider it unethically sourced, but those are very few people. Moreover, most vegetarians prohibit their intake because of the industrialization of animal slaughter, and because of the maximizing of profits. But I believe that there is a high demand on meat especially processed for mass and commercial use such as frozen burger patties, that cannot be satisfied except with ignoring the animal rights. The Vegetarian Society , a reputable body representing vegetarians, stated that any diets other than the vegan diet is not vegetarian, that is because fish, birds such as chicken, turkey, quails, etc. are considered as living organisms Meat Vs. Veggie
On average, vegetarians consume a lower proportion of calories from fat (particularly saturated fatty acids), fewer overall calories, more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, than do non-vegetarians. Vegetarians generally have a lower body mass index. These characteristics and other lifestyle factors associated with a vegetarian diet may contribute to the positive health outcomes that have been identified among vegetarians.
Vegetarian diets are commonly known to be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer and diabetes. Vegetarians have high intake of fiber & low consumption of saturated fat, however, they still have lots of deficiencies in protein, iron, and vitamin B12, below are some recommendations for each deficiency.
Protein intake for vegetarians is relatively low but this can be resolved by eating lots of plant-based protein that is abundantly available in pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, almonds, pistachios, flaxseed and oats which are all perfect sources of protein that is derived from plants. But I still argue that though plant-based protein is available, it is not a replacer, because it still lacks amino acids which are the building blocks of protein initially, thus makes the protein intake of vegetarians incomplete.
Vegetarian meals that are rich in iron are but not limited to oatmeal, raisins, cashews and most importantly spinach. I personally love black honey (molasses), which is extracted from sugar cane, which has the highest amount of naturally occurring iron in any plant. And this takes us to an interesting point that is worth mentioning which is, some vegans avoid honey because it is derived from an animal source (bees), so don’t worry vegetarians, molasses is plant-based!
I have no recommendation for the Vitamin B12 deficiency, as the US National Institute of Health stated that vitamin B12 is not present in plants and is only found in foods derived from animals. I would buy a B12 Dietary supplement.
Though I still hold to the opinion of being against vegetarianism, but this doesn’t prevent me from stating the disadvantages of eating too much meat, and this is what’s my point is all about; eating red meat extensively without paying attention to its harms, not totally avoiding it. As there is no scientific research prohibits or warns from eating meat, they warn from eating it too much.
Below are some of the disadvantages of eating meat (eating processed and packaged meat increases this risk even further):
Diets high in animal protein cause the body to excrete calcium, oxalate, and uric acid”the main components of kidney stones. A peer-reviewed 1999 dated study, conducted at 76,000 people, stated that vegetarian diets lower the risk of heart diseases and that vegetarians had twenty-four percent lower death from heart disease than meat eaters. Moreover, vegetarian diet helps lower blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension, thus reduce the risk of stroke. Not to mention that Eating meat excessively increases the risk of being diabetic, this was according to a study which stated that eating meat increases the risk of being a type 2 diabetic, and for people who already have diabetes, they should consider a vegetarian diet that is rich in whole grains and nuts which proved to improve the glycemic control. Another evidence is a study dated July 9, 2001 conducted at Seventh-Day Adventists who were vegetarian, it reflected that life expectancy increased by a staggering number of additional years for men and women alike. Studies show that vegetarians are less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters by 40% according to a study dated 1994 by Harvard researchers, consuming red meat heavily will increase the risk of getting cancer.
vegetarian diet adopters assume that they conserve more water, as it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a one pound of beef, on the other hand side, it only takes about 180 gallons to produce a pound of wheat-based flour, but let’s be realistic on this, vegetarians don’t spend all their lives eating wheat!! Nor its derivatives, and this is one of the core ideas of the article that I will discuss further in the following paragraphs.
vegetarianism has lots of disadvantages as well, other than the deficiency part. I might not say disadvantages, I might say that they see things from a perspective that is incomplete.
I will handle why vegetarian diets, especially vegans who only eat fruits & veggies, can cause more harm to the environment, actually more than heavy meat eaters!!, Speaking about the greenhouse effect and its impact on the environment, vegetarians may seem not to totally understand the big picture behind the diet they adopted. Let’s take the story from the very beginning to understand why vegetarianism might not be the best in conserving water.
According to Kathleen M. Zelman Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in calories and higher in fiber, making you feel full on fewer calories. They can definitely help you shed unwanted pounds when done correctly
Kathleen added; Diets that include animal products are generally nutritionally complete. Vegans, on the other hand, often fall short of meeting requirements for vitamin B-12, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and iron.
As we can interpret from what is mentioned, that vegetarians experience lack of essential nutrients that are not available from only eating fruits and veggies and totally avoiding meat. Vegetables don’t offer too much calories, even some have negative calories, such as cucumbers! I would refer back to a point that Kathleen said making you feel full on fewer calories this means, an individual would eat lots of vegetables to compensate the lost calories, thus more crops production and more greenhouse effect, so now it is clear that some veggies require more resources (man and power) per calorie than raising red meat. From my point of view, its meaningless comparing a pound of wheat to a pound of meat. Maybe because it is the most valuable crop on Chicago’s stock exchange, but that doesn’t mean it is the most consumed!! Vegetarians assume that if they stopped eating red meat, you can’t replace a kilogram of red meat simply with a kilogram of veggies because the calories or I might say that the energy provided by fruits and vegetables are volatile and disappears rapidly, and that’s why calories are used as a metric for these calculations, this is my interpretation from what Tamar Haspel wrote last year for the Washington Post. “Calories are the great equalizer, and it makes sense to use them as the basis of the calculation.”
“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon” said, Paul Fischbeck.
I referred to Paul’s point to address that vegetarians eat more to compensate the calories lost, thus more crops will be harvested, more water irrigation, and more soil depletion. That being said, producing more amounts of fruits and veggies to compensate the calories lost from avoiding red meat involves greater amount of resources such as water and manpower, and as a result, more greenhouse effect.
Shifting from conversation back to deficiencies again, vegetarians lack calcium simply because they totally avoid dairy, according to Christian Nordqvist , he states the importance of dairies in one single line: Milk and yogurt are important sources of calcium. Vegetarians may stick to their opinion to not eating any red meat, I am in favor of what the researchers recommend the vegans to be, somewhere in the middle, which can be best achieved by being a lacto-ovo diet, in which they eat fish, dairies, chicken, eggs, but don’t eat red meat. So if you are a vegan, it’s better to be a Lacto-ovo.
I mentioned previously that the drivers for each vegetarian individual are different, for example, some adopt it because of sustainability, others because of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and others due to health and fitness, but they seem to pretty much agree that
There’s a strange relationship between the diets we choose and the environment that we source our food from, and that what’s healthy for us might be harmful for the environment’s health!! Beside the resources depletion and the greenhouse debate above, there are more strong points researchers hold against vegans – completely vegetarians, that are discussed below. Vegetarians hold opinion that killing animals is not ethical and cruel while there are plants available instead to eat from, but that’s not the case with what the science proved. In sequence, researchers proved that plants have the very same response to threat exactly such as animals, through an electrochemical process. Moreover, vegetarians can unintentionally cause the death of animals as well, to name a few, animals living inside crops or take the crops as a shelter to their territory underground holes, such as squirrels. And it is worth noting that not every country is suitable for growing crops, maybe they are scarce as well, so the best way is to raise cattle instead.
Here is a statistic about the awareness of vegetarianism in the US:
The graph above reflects the respondents who have friends who are vegetarians in the US. And as we can see that the dominant percentage is None with a 55%.
To conclude, I believe in the huge benefits that vegetarian diet offers and I also believe in the minor benefits of eating meat, what I would do is that I will take the advice of my doctor and increase my intake of fruits and vegetables and incorporate it in main courses, for example, any main course should include a bowl of salad, and after the main course my dessert would be fruit salad or maybe pineapple chunks (fruits) on the top of it a scoop of frozen dairy dessert such as ice-cream (dairy). I wouldn’t ignore meat and dairy, my perspective of this combination is like a chicken-Caesar salad, you don’t get to ignore the chicken in the salad while in the same time you still enjoy other vegetables along the way. I assume that this is the optimum combination in which you take the golden nuggets of each item, I once ate a burger sandwich without noticing that there is a grilled pineapple slice inside, think of it this way. not to mention that, red meat has all the adequate and required protein amounts for your day, that’s very opposite to veggies which can’t afford serving that amount of protein or I might say amino acids, in a single set of serving, However, eating too much red meat is not good for your health, I only eat it once a week upon my physician recommendation.
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