Vegetatrians – Healthy Lifestyle

Table of Content

There is a widespread belief that the food we eat has a significant impact on our overall health. Consequently, it seems that many Americans consume commercially produced animal meat which is both unhealthy and chemically processed.

The average American omnivore’s diet often includes Big Macs and steak fajitas, which may not be appealing. However, there are people who choose to refrain from eating any type of meat. These individuals, known as vegetarians, belong to a growing group of health-conscious Americans who avoid fats, cholesterol, and other harmful additives commonly found in meat products. While vegetarianism was once considered a niche movement, it has now become prominent in American diets focused on well-being. The term “vegetarian” originated in the mid-1800s to describe those who abstain from consuming animal flesh; however, the concept of vegetarianism itself dates back much further.

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According to many, Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher known as the father of vegetarianism, supported a meatless diet as the most natural and advantageous. Being a vegetarian involves abstaining from meat and can be chosen for various reasons. The primary motivation for many who embrace vegetarianism is their well-being. For example, individuals with ulcers might be instructed to adhere to a strict plant-based diet to facilitate healing. Similarly, those with elevated cholesterol levels may receive advice to adopt a vegetarian diet in order to reduce fat and cholesterol consumption. Another point raised by a smaller faction of vegetarians pertains to moral objections associated with consuming animal flesh.

R.G. Frey argues that the consumption of meat has a negative impact on human character as it involves suffering and killing in commercial farming, leading to desensitization and reduced empathy towards other creatures. This dangerous path could ultimately result in torture and death, potentially extending to humans.

Similarly, John Robbins acknowledges the moral aspect of vegetarianism by highlighting that consuming food from these suffering animals means unknowingly participating in their miserable lives.

Nevertheless, individuals may choose to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle for various reasons. It is important to acknowledge the different types of vegetarian diets which primarily consist of grains, vegetables, and fruits while excluding all forms of animal flesh such as fish, pork, poultry or beef.

There are various dietary variations within vegetarianism, including lacto-ovo vegetarianism. Mark Messina states that a lacto-ovo diet allows the consumption of dairy products and eggs but excludes animal flesh (7). Consequently, milk, eggs, and honey are allowed while animal flesh is avoided. Another variation is the lacto-vegetarian diet which permits the consumption of milk and other milk products but does not include eggs.

Both vegetarians and vegans have similar dietary restrictions. They do not consume fish, poultry, or meat (Messina 7). However, vegans have the strictest diet compared to other vegetarian diets. Vegans avoid not only meat, fish, and poultry but also dairy and eggs. Additionally, they often steer clear of any foods that involve animal processing (Messina 11).

The passage discusses the dietary and lifestyle choices of vegans, who strictly avoid consuming animal byproducts like milk, eggs, and honey. Vegans also steer clear of using products made from animals or tested on animals, such as leather shoes or belts (Messina 11). Professor Irving Fisher of Yale conducted a study that contradicted misconceptions about vegetarians being thin and malnourished idealists who rely solely on plants and soy milk for survival. The research compared the strength and stamina of three groups: meat-eating athletes, vegetarian athletes, and sedentary vegetarians. Surprisingly, both vegetarian groups outperformed the meat eaters in terms of average performance scores—more than twice as high—even though half of the vegetarians led sedentary lifestyles while all the meat-eaters were athletes.

According to Fisher (206), the disparity in endurance between individuals who consume meat and those who do not is solely attributable to their dietary choices. There exists compelling evidence that a meat-free diet has a favorable impact on endurance. In 1968, a Danish research team carried out a similar investigation utilizing stationary bicycles to assess the strength and endurance of men adhering to different diets. Prior to the experiment, participants were provided with a diet comprising varying proportions of vegetables and meats. On average, they could pedal for 114 minutes before experiencing muscle failure. Subsequently, they were exclusively nourished with a diet consisting of meat, eggs, and milk for an equal period before undergoing re-testing on the bicycles.

On this diet, the average time until muscle failure decreased to 57 minutes. Afterwards, the men were given a diet consisting only of grains, vegetables, and fruits for their next round of bike testing. Surprisingly, not including animal byproducts did not affect their performance. They were able to pedal an average of 167 minutes before reaching muscle failure (Robbins 156). However, vegetarians often receive criticism for potential deficiencies in necessary minerals and vitamins.

According to Johanna Dwyer, a registered dietitian from Tufts University Medical School and the New England Medical Center Hospital in Boston, adopting a vegetarian diet can have positive impacts on health. Studies suggest that vegetarians have lower risks of obesity, decreased muscle tone, constipation, lung cancer, and alcoholism. Additionally, there is substantial evidence indicating that vegetarians are less likely to experience hypertension, coronary artery disease, type II diabetes, and gallstones. However, limited data exists regarding the risks of breast cancer, diverticular disease of the colon,colonic cancer,c alcium kidney stones osteoporosis dental erosion and dental caries among vegetarians (53). One possible reason for these health benefits may be that vegetarian diets generally contain lower levels of total fat and saturated fat compared to omnivorous diets. These fats have been associated with an increased risk of obesity,d iabetes heart disease ,and cancer. Mark Messina’s research shows that American omnivores typically consume a diet consisting of 34% to 36% fat whereas lacto-ovo vegetarians have a 30% to 36% fat diet,and vegans consume roughly around 30% fat (59).As a result, vegetarians have lower cholesterol intake which is associated with increased risks of heart disease and potentially cancerous conditions.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume approximately 150 to 300 mg of cholesterol per day, while omnivores consume around 400 mg (Messina 59). On the other hand, vegans completely avoid cholesterol intake from animal byproducts. In order to promote healthier eating habits among Americans, the US Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have developed a Food Guide that advises limited consumption of fats, oils, and sweets (Farley 52). Additionally, vegetarians typically have a higher intake of fiber from grain products. Fiber is essential for maintaining healthy bowels and colons, reducing the risk of diabetes, managing blood glucose levels, as well as decreasing the likelihood of developing cancer and heart disease (Messina 59). Furthermore, grain products form the basis of the U.S. diet.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services Food Guide Pyramid, it is advised to have 6 to 11 servings of bread, rice, cereal, and pasta per day (Farley 52). The average omnivore typically has about 12g of fiber daily while vegetarians consume 50% to 100% more fiber than nonvegetarians (Messina 59). Vegetarian diets are also known for their higher intake of antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C. These antioxidants are believed to decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and cataracts. On a typical vegetarian diet, the consumption of these vitamins can be as high as or even exceed 50%, 100%. Moreover, vegetarians have a lower intake of animal protein compared to omnivores. Omnivores usually consume around 14% to18%, lacto-ovo vegetarians consume around12%to14%, and vegans only consume about10%to12%(Messina59).

According to modern nutritional science, vegetarians consume sufficient protein for a healthy balance, despite consuming less overall protein. Higher risks of osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney disease, and high blood cholesterol levels have been linked to excessive protein intake, especially from animal sources (Messina 59). The benefits of a vegetarian diet are apparent and advantageous for human well-being. Moreover, a vegetarian diet can also promote the well-being of animals consumed by humans. As the demand for food grows, livestock farmers have had to adopt more efficient methods of raising animals, leading to the industrialization of meat farming.

According to John Robbins, the treatment of chickens in the United States is lacking empathy (52). In the past, chickens were considered farm animals that lived naturally and found their own food. However, with the industrialization of chicken farming, they have transformed into what Robbins refers to as “assembly-line chickens” (52). This shift towards industrialization extends beyond poultry farmers and also impacts beef, turkey, pork, and other meat industries as they adapt their practices for omnivores. One approach involves utilizing growth hormones on animals to enhance egg production and cultivate larger animals for human consumption.

In his book Diet For A New America, John Robbins discusses the use of various products in the pork industry today. One such product is XLP-30, a feed additive from Shell Oil Company. Despite its name resembling motor oil rather than animal food, XLP-30 is specifically designed to increase pig litters. Interestingly, a Shell official openly acknowledges their lack of understanding regarding its working mechanism. This example highlights the utilization of chemical manipulation in the meat industry to combat diseases caused by overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions for animals. According to R.G. Frey (10), this practice poses a significant threat to public health as excessive antibiotic usage in animal feed can lead to drug resistance in both animals and humans who consume these products.

According to Robbins (148), Leonardo Da Vinci envisioned a future where the killing of animals and humans would be seen as equally wrong. While the ethical argument against slaughtering animals for meat supports vegetarianism, it is unlikely to convince many Americans. However, many Americans prioritize their own health and well-being, which should motivate them to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. This way of life provides necessary vitamins and minerals without the negative effects associated with consuming animals, such as high cholesterol, excessive fat, and excessive protein. Despite the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, most people are unwilling to give up their meat-based diets.

If the saying “You are what you eat” holds any truth, then Americans should understand the content of their consumption when indulging in a Big Mac, Whoppers, or filet mignon. There are healthier alternatives available for our meat-centered eating habits and these alternatives prioritize vegetables over meats. It is now up to individuals to acknowledge this and make necessary adjustments.

Bibliography:Works Cited 1. Farley, Dixie.

“More People Trying Vegetarian Diets.” FDA Consumer October 1995: 52-55. 2. Fisher, Irving. “The Influence of Flesh Eating on Endurance.” Yale Medical Journal 13.5 (1907): 205-221 3. Frey, R.G. Rights, Killing, and Suffering.

Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publisher Limited, 1983. Messina, Mark, and Messina, Virginia. The Dietians Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers, Inc., 1996.

Robbin’s book, Diet For A New America, published by Stillpoint Publishing in 1987, was referenced in the following works:

  1. Farley, Dixie. “More People Trying Vegetarian Diets.” FDA Consumer October 1995: 52-55.
  2. [Insert reference for second work here]

Fisher, Irving. “The Impact of Consuming Animal Flesh on One’s Perseverance.” Yale Medical Journal 13.5 (1907): 205-221 3. Frey, R.G. Rights, Killing, and Suffering. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publisher Limited, 1983 4.

Kleiner, Susan M. “Vegetarian Vitality: Striking The Right Balance.” The Physician and Sports Medicine August 1992: 15-16.
Messina, Mark, and Messina, Virginia. The Dietians Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers, Inc., 1996.
Robbins, John.

The book titled “Diet For A New America” was published in 1987 by Stillpoint Publishing, based in Walpole.

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