The Vegetarian Diet (con’t)
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Those considering a vegetarian diet continue to worry about getting enough nutrients, since the belief that meat is a necessary part of keeping strong and healthy is still extremely widespread.
Armed with decades of nutritional research data, the PCRM addresses this issue convincingly:
“The fact is that it is very easy to have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian foods. Vegetarian foods provide plenty of protein… Any normal variety of plant foods provides more than enough protein for the body’s needs… Excess protein [from meat-based diets] has been linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, and possibly heart disease and some cancers. A diet focused on beans, whole grains and vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without the ‘overdose’ most meat-eaters get.”
Vegetarian Diet and Nutrition
Other concerns are also allayed with a proper understanding of the vegetarianism and human biology. For instance:
- Calcium is easy to find in vegetarian foods.
- Many dark, green leafy vegetables and beans are loaded with calcium, and some orange juices and cereals are calcium-fortified.
- Iron is plentiful in whole grains, beans and fruits.
The research of the PCRM also affirms that:
“The high nutritional needs of children are also met within a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian menu is ‘life-extending.’ As young children, vegetarians may grow more gradually, reach puberty somewhat later, and live substantially longer than do meat-eaters.”
Global Impact of Vegetarianism:
Many of the world’s massive environmental problems could be solved or improved upon by the reduction or elimination of meat-eating, including global warming, loss of fertile topsoil, loss of rain forests and species extinction, all of which are significantly impacted by the mass-production of meat for human consumption.
The world’s natural resources are being rapidly depleted as a direct result of meat production. For example:
- More than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.A. is consumed in livestock production.
- It takes a shocking amount of fossil fuels to sustain the production of meat in comparison to grain and vegetable products. As a result, oil reserves are being depleted at an alarming rate. If every human today ate a meat-centered diet, the world’s known oil reserves would last a mere 13 more years. They would last 260 years if humans stopped eating meat altogether.
- Thirty-three percent of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) consumed by the U.S.A. are devoted to the production of livestock, as compared with 2% which would be necessary to produce a complete vegetarian diet.
In addition, much of the world’s enormous hunger problems could be solved by the reduction or elimination of meat-eating, considering that vast quantities of food fed to livestock could instead feed humans, and that the pasture needs for raising livestock cut drastically into land which could otherwise be used to grow food.
More Health Incentives to Eat Less Meat
Those who eat flesh are far more likely to contract cancer than those following a vegetarian diet.
- Incidents of breast cancer are 3.8 times greater for women who eat meat daily compared to those who eat meat less than once a week.
- The risk of fatal prostate cancer is 3.6 times greater for men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily as compared with sparingly or not at all.
Meat-eaters ingest excessive amounts of cholesterol, making them dangerously susceptible to heart attacks.
- Completely eliminating meat, dairy and egg products from one’s diet reduces the risk of heart attack by 90%!
Antibiotics and high quantities of dangerous pesticides are found in US-produced meat. This affects the health of the meat-eater in enumerable ways.
- Alarmingly, pesticide contamination of breast milk has been found to be up to 35 times higher in meat-eating mothers!
Is That All?
I have tried to give you a broad “scientific” perspective on many of the key rationales behind the adoption of a vegetarian diet. For those who wish to proceed down a road to health and wellness, to engage in the yogic path of proper understanding and ultimate fulfillment, the adoption of a vegetarian diet is one more eventual, essential step.
But aside from the scientific perspective, there are many more reasons why a vegetarian diet is essential for one who aspires to live a higher, yogic life.
We will continue to explore this topic in the next article, entitled, The Yoga of Food – the deeper dimensions of the yoga diet…