To begin with clarifying, in simple terms, what vegetarianism exactly is; it is the practice of refraining from consuming meat and the flesh of any animal. Over the last couple of years, vegetarianism has become amazingly popular among people. Vegetarianism is practiced for a variety of reasons; for a healthier and longer life, due to various religious beliefs such as Hinduism and Buddhism, animal rights and the preserving the environment, etc.
Albeit, there a lot of people who love meat and cannot live without it, there are, in fact, people who support and practice vegetarianism and believe that it is the best way to enjoy the food. If you’re still perplexed, look at the health and environmental benefits of practicing vegetarianism, below, and then make a choice.
First, let’s take a look at how vegetarianism will be of benefit to your health.
Health Benefits of Vegetarianism –
1) Longevity/Increase in Life Span
For instance, if an average American refrains from his staple American diet and practices vegetarianism, he or she can add an additional thirteen years to his life span, just like that! It has been established that people who consume a lot of saturated animal fat tend to live a much shorter life, fighting various disabilities in their later years.
The Okinawa Japanese have the longest life expectancy in Japan and most likely in the world. Their diet consists of rich, fibrous fruits vegetables, soy and complex carbohydrates.
2) More Energy
Another tremendous health benefit of practicing vegetarianism is that it boosts your energy. How?
When you consume any kind of animal meat the body uses up most of your energy to break down the proteins into simpler components in order to aid digestion. But abstaining from meat and loading your diet with fiber-rich fruits, whole grains and vegetables will take your energy levels up a notch. Needless be mentioned, a well-balanced, vegetarian diet is free of cholesterol which is an added benefit to all the others.
3) Prevents Diseases
Vegetarian diets and way of living have known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by considerable magnitudes. Regular consumption of saturated animal fat is one of the most common reasons for coronary blockages and artery diseases. A vegetarian diet is, by default, a lot healthier because you consume more fiber and nutrients and less fat and cholesterol. A diet filled with fibrous fruits and legumes can also prevent lung diseases and other related illnesses.
If you think you’re only consuming meat when you do, you’re absolutely wrong. When you eat meat, you’re taking in animal fats and animal cells along with the chemicals and other by-products that are used to process those animals; sometimes even steroids and mercury and lead which cannot be removed by freezing or even cooking.
Vegetarian food is not processed and is not loaded with any chemicals. In their raw form, vegetarian food is highly beneficial and toxin-free.
5) Negligible to Zero Saturated Fat
Unlike animal meat; fruits, legumes, soy and whole grains comprise of very less or no saturated fat, whatsoever. Aside from that, vegetarian foods, normally, can be cooked in all types of natural oils which are free of unwanted and unhealthy saturated fat that is the root cause of a lot of heart diseases.
From beautiful skin and a healthy, flourishing digestive system to reducing the risk of cancer, vegetarianism has a variety of health benefits in comparison to a meat-based diet. However, let’s look at the importance and advantages of vegetarianism from a larger perspective; a more long-term venture.
“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh
Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism –
1) Famine Prevention
Alongside being of great benefits to one’s health, going the vegetarian way can also help save the planet.
About a billion people starve every day because of the amount of grains that is fed to animals, only so they can be slaughtered at the end of it. Long story short; the majority of the world’s crops is, as a matter of fact, now consumed by animals, which leaves a huge part of the human population deprived of food. According to academicians, if the grain fed to animals in the western part of the work had to be directly fed to people, we’d be feeding over twice as many people, or maybe even more than that.
2) Reducing Pollution
Some people have begun abstaining from the consumption of meat after having realized the poisonous and devastating effects that the meat industry is having on the environment. Needless be said, aside from harmful and hazardous greenhouse gasses namely methane and carbon dioxide, pigs and cows give off many other poisonous gasses that pollute the environment.
Switching to a healthier and safer alternative such as that of vegetarianism will reduce the amount of pollution is air, water and on a ground by great degrees and will help to regulate the same.
3) Oil Preservation
By cutting down on the consumption of meat and animal flesh, you’ll be saving a large amount of the world’s oil. According to recent studies, it has been established that as much as one-third of the fossil fuels that are produced in the United States of America now go towards animal agriculture. The dependency of the economy of animal farming on oil caused food riots in as many as twenty-three countries when the prices of oil were hiked in 2008.
Taking to vegetarianism will be a huge step in preventing the continuous drainage of the world’s oil.
4) Preventing Deforestation
Deforestation has been an issue of great concern as far back as I can remember! And what’s worse is that the entire world’s agriculture business has turned to the tropical rainforests, not for their timber, but for the land that can be used to graze their cattle! As a resultant, millions of hectares of forests have been brutally destroyed, just so they can be used to cater to the need for hamburgers and chicken wings.
Vegetarianism will not only prevent forests and greenery from being reduced, but it will also be of great help in keeping climatic conditions under control.
5) You’ll Spare Animals