When people hear the word Vegetarian they automatically think people that follow the vegetarian diet (vegetarians) are “meat hater’s” that only eat salads and ignore their vitamins and protein. The fact that I, myself am a vegetarian I disagree with this misconception because there are many different types of vegetarians. Each kind follows their own diet based on their own personal preferences.
According to Statistics Brain 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians here in the US! 59% are females and 41% are males in between the ages of 18-34. Would you ever have guessed that? probably not. That is exactly why today I’m going to introduce a brief introduction on the history of vegetarianism, why people become vegetarians, the different kinds of vegetarians, the misconceptions about vegetarianism and the health benefits of this particular lifestyle.
Vegetarianism is the theory or practice of living on a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian is a person who does not eat any meat and sometimes other animal products (seafood) especially for moral, religious, environmental and health reasons. The word vegetarian comes from the Latin word “vegetus” which means whole, sound, fresh, lively. This diet/ideology has been practiced in many cultures since the beginnings of time with people such as: Pythagoras, Buddha, Plato and Plutarch.
In the mid-1800s it finally reached it’s Western civilization. On September 30th, 1847 a formal organization called the “Vegetarian Society” was finally established. It’s founder was Reverend William Cowherd, also the founder of the Bible Christian Church. He vowed not to eat meat and went on to build a large congregation of people who too believed in this ideology solely because of nonviolence and unhealthiness.
Every individual has their own personal beliefs as to why they choose this lifestyle but the four most common reasons are
1) Ethical reasons: Many vegetarians believe that the cruelty of the meat industry is unjust and inexcusable. They feel as though animals shouldn’t be raised for slaughter and of course they object all factory farms due to the way the animals are caged up and mistreated.
2) Health reasons: Excessive meat eating is linked to cancer and other diseases. It also is very high in cholesterol, which is unhealthy especially in the quantities eaten here in the United State today. Due to their knowledge of of the various drugs especially steroids given to animals in factory farms to make them grow bigger and produce more meat it’s clearly not beneficial to human or animal health. According to an EyeWitness News article published on 3/15/2013 Stellenbosch University found nearly 60% of 139 products tested contained ingredients which were not listed on their meat labels in manifold grocery stores. The study found donkey, kangaroo, water buffalo, goat and pork in some products.
3) Environmental reasons: Vegetarians believe of course, that meat eating is detrimental to saving the planet. According to A Diet For New America by John Robbins about 260 million acres of US forest is cleared for cropland to produce meat. It also produces a lot of methane (greenhouse gas).
4) Religious Reasons: Many vegetarians get spiritual fulfillment out of not eating meat because they’re advocates for nonviolence.
Vegetarians are well known throughout the US but there are many varieties of vegetarians. It is all about what works and fits your personal lifestyle. The most common vegetarians are
1) Pescatarian, this type of vegetarian diet includes seafood and but no other meat at all. It also includes dairy products.
2) Flexitarian/Semi-Vegetarian, this vegetarian diet follows the vegetarian lifestyle but occasionally he/she might enjoy a piece of meat if out with a friend/s for a special occasion.
3) Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian, this vegetarian diet excludes all meat or seafood but include dairy products like eggs, milk and honey.
4) Vegan, this diet refrains from eating all animal flesh/products (eggs, milk, honey) as well as products that are manufactured. They also do not wear animal products such as fur and leather. This type of diet is becoming more common in the Western world.
5) Raw Food Diet follows the vegan diet, they include only fresh and uncooked fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables. But the vegetables can only be warmed up to a certain temperature.
6) Macrobiotic Diet, this consists of whole grains and beans. It is the concept of eating a natural organic plant based diet, including a little bit of fish occasionally.
Several misconceptions have been placed on the vegetarian lifestyle such as not being able to obtain enough protein, being deficient in vitamins and minerals, losing too much weight and this lifestyle being too expensive for people to follow. On a number of occasions vegetarianism has been proven to be very healthy and beneficial when followed correctly and paid attention to vitamin and supplement intake. Vegetarians usually get their protein from foods like soy, wheat, nuts, seeds, dairy, mushrooms and grains. The biggest argument about being a vegetarian is being deficient in B12 vitamins because it’s usually found in animal sources. Vegetarians usually consume eggs, dairy, soy beverages, fortified breakfast cereals to get that vitamin. Many vegetarian dishes are high in fats such as pasta, cheese, prepackaged meals.
So losing weight is definitely a myth, it’s all about your preference, diet plan and intake. To live a vegetarian lifestyle is definitely inexpensive. Whole fruits, vegetables and beans are less expensive than meat and poultry. Processed vegetables, fruits, etc. can be pricey, but if you buy whole foods it’s usually better for your health which is most essential and you can save a lot of money. Vegetarianism isn’t for everybody but the benefits it has on ones health is inevitable. Articles, books, etc. have stated that a vegetarian diet reduces cancer, prevents type two diabetes and gives you healthier skin. Plus the fact that you’re eating chemical/hormone/toxin free-foods allows your energy to increase, your body to improve digestion and lower your blood pressure. Vegetarianism continues to grow in the United States, it also is becoming more common to find vegetarian menus and restaurants. So if you find yourself second guessing eating meat, I hope this essay has been insightful.