Becoming a vegetarian: Pros and cons

By Martha Jette

Before making the conscious choice to become a vegetarian, it is vital that you not only understand the history of this eating lifestyle, but also the pros and cons with regard to how eliminating meat from your diet will affect your overall health.

Answers.com defines vegetarianism as “the voluntary abstinence from eating meat,” whether it is because of religious, health or ethical reasons. In India, Hindus are vegetarians due to their religious belief that doing so will bring them a healthier and longer life, as well as spiritual and moral fortitude.

Others who choose this diet for religious reasons include Buddhists, Catholic Trappist monks and Yogis, who do not believe in killing animals and also believe that food like vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains contains prana or life energy that is vital to spiritual health. Some of the most famous vegetarians throughout history include Plato, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Schweitzer, Gandhi and even Paul McCartney.

One of the major reasons why some people choose not to eat meat is due to the hormones, steroids, antibiotics and other dangerous additives that are now found in them. A company called Monsanto sparked nationwide outrage when they introduced Bovine somatotropin (rBST), a bovine growth hormone otherwise knows as rBGH, which is a synthetic hormone injected into cows to increase milk production. Together with a cow’s natural hormones, it is responsible for the quick growth of infants. However, its effect on children and adults is that it can cause breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.

Since its introduction Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation with its headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri, has had its share of legal battles related to health issues stemming from its products. In October 2008, the company sold this side of its business to Eli Lilly for $300 million.

Genetically Altered Seeds

Though Monsanto is no longer responsible for meat processes, it still sells 90 percent of the world’s genetically altered seeds that the company insists must be used by growers worldwide. The seeds used in various breads and flours are genetically altered to make them immune to the ‘Round Up’ herbicide that is used. However, a study by researchers with the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that genetically modified corn varieties “induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity, otherwise known as liver damage.

That said it becomes obviously clear that even if a person cuts out meat from his or her diet to help the environment and save animals from undue agony, dangerous additives are still present in other foods. As well, grain products might provide carbs for energy but offer little in the way of good nutrition.

According to Healthy Eating, Naturally, “Carbs, especially simple and refined carbs like white bread, white pasta, and white rice, convert into the body as sugar. They spike insulin levels, cause inflammation, make us gain weight, and often lead to chronic digestive issues… It can be a challenge, but it is absolutely imperative to focus your diet on vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, and organic eggs (if you choose to include animal products).” This type of eater is called a lacto-ovo vegetarian who also consumes dairy products.

A better method than becoming a full-fledged vegetarian might be to create a semi-vegetarian diet that includes foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients essential for a healthy body. Semi-vegetarians eat fish and poultry as well.

Washington State Department of Health Officer Maxine Hayes says, “Eating fish can provide an excellent source of Omega-3, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that benefit your general health. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish per week to help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.”

Vegetarianism in a Nutshell
A Case for Vegetarianism
22 Reasons Not To Go Vegetarian
Healthy Fish Guide

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