To Be or Not To Be a Vegetarian?
Many vegetarians think all meat eaters are completely wrong.
Many meat eaters think vegetarians are crazy.
I don’t agree with either extreme.
Joke: How many vegetarians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
I don’t know, but where do they get their protein!?
We are all different with individual needs. Just as there is no one type of meat eater, there is no one type of vegetarian. Some meat eaters eat pork, some don’t. Some vegetarians eat dairy, some don’t. Vegetarians eat a variety of different foods for a variety of reasons.
8 Reasons Why People Become Vegetarians
1. Health concerns:
A vegetarian diet can be a balanced diet filled with nutritious vegetables which can be alkaline-forming and health-building. Harvard researched the eating habits of 110,000 adults for over 20 years found that a one 3-ounce serving of red meat daily was associated with a 13 percent greater chance of dying over the course of the study. A vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
2. Spiritual reasons:
Commitment to non-violent food; not supporting the killing and suffering of animals. Hinduism and Buddhism hold vegetarianism as an ideal way to promote nonviolence and spiritual fulfillment. Seventh Day Adventists and Jains are vegetarians. Seventh Day Adventists are among the healthiest people in the world today.
3. Personal choice:
Sometimes for no explainable reason, a person just finds that they simply do not want to eat meat. Whenever they see it they have no interest in eating it so they never include it in their meals.
4. Food safety:
Close to 5,000 Americans die of food-borne diseases every year. Food poisoning is mostly from animal products. Factory farms, slaughterhouses, and meat packing plants are extremely unsanitary places.
5. Animal rights:
Animals raised for meat in factory farms live in truly abysmal conditions and are treated badly prior to and during slaughter. Also, the animals are often given drugs to make them grow bigger, producing more meat. This is not healthy to animals or humans. Animals have feelings and a personality just like humans!
6. Environmental reasons:
Meat production is the creating destruction of our natural resources and causing pollution, producing more greenhouse gases than all the cars in the world. Read The Food Revolution by John Robbins to become enlightened on this subject. Also check out our article “Nice Cow – Baaad Cow Effects.”
7. Political reasons:
If resources were diverted from meat production, there could be enough food to feed everyone on the earth. Producing meat is wasteful; it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. According to the United Nations, raising animals for food (land for grazing and land to grow feed crops) now uses 30 percent of the Earth’s land mass.
8. Economic reasons :
In much of the world, people do not eat meat because it costs more than beans or rice. Meat is a special-occasion dish if it’s ever eaten. As societies become more affluent they start eating more meat. The China Study goes into much detail about how the health of a nation declines as they become wealthy enough to eat large portions of meat.
So what is a vegetarian?
Next: The 8 kinds of vegetarians
There Are Eight Types of Vegetarians:
- Vegan: Eats only plant products; does not eat any animal products at all, not even honey.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Eats all fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarian: Eats eggs along with a plant-based diet.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Eats both dairy products and eggs.
- Fruitarian: Eats a vegan diet that is mostly raw fruit, grains and nuts. They believe only plant foods that can be harvested without killing the plant should be eaten.
- Macrobiotic: The goal is to create a balance between ying (positive) foods and yang (negative) foods. There are ten levels of diet; not all levels are strictly vegetarian. Macrobiotics perceive meat as highly yang, which most people try to balance with a highly yin food like sugar – a terrible combination.
- Pesco-vegetarian (or pescetarian): Eat fish with a diet that is primarily vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
- Semi-vegetarians: Eat fish and a small amount of poultry with a diet that is primarily vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
Are you one of the above?
Next: What do vegetarians eat?
What Do Vegetarians Eat?
Contrary to what most meat eaters think, vegetarians don’t just eat salad or simply eat the meat and potato meal with out the meat, or the hamburger without the bun.
A wise vegetarian eats a wide variety of vegetables with lots of whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds and maybe a little dairy and egg.
There are so many concerns when one is choosing to be a vegetarian and here are the sort of questions I hear often.
1. Where am I going to get my iron?
Dried beans, lentils, spinach, Swiss chard, molasses and dried fruit are especially good sources of iron and better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased when iron foods are combined with foods containing vitamin C. Do note: vegetarians do not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than meat eaters.
2. How about calcium?
Green vegetables are filled with calcium (spinach, kale, okra, broccoli, green beans, collard greens), and so are almonds, sunflower seeds and dried beans. Two tablespoons of black strap molasses has 400 mg of calcium. You get as much or more calcium in 4 ounces of firm tofu or 3/4 cup of collard greens as you will in one cup of cow’s milk.
How much calcium is needed?
- Adults 19-50 years and men 51-70 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
- For women over 51 and men over 70, 1,200 mg of calcium per day is recommended.
Keeping a balance in the acid/alkaline department will help keep your calcium in your bones. When we become too acidic, the body steals the calcium and other minerals from the bones. Meat is acid-forming and vegetables are alkaline-forming. So there we have another good case for not eating too much meat.
3. Where will I get my protein?
I get this question SO often I have written a separate article on it called “The Protein Myth.”
Often people think that plants are devoid of protein and even many vegetarians believe that they have to eat eggs, cheese or beans to get enough. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds, and nuts all contain essential and nonessential amino acids. Here is a fact: all plant foods have protein in them. Even fruit has protein in it!
How much protein is enough?
The amounts established by the National Academy of Sciences are:
- A 160-pound man needs about 58 grams of protein a day
- A 120-pound woman needs about 43
Eat 2 – 4 servings of fruits, 3 – 5 servings of vegetables, and 6 – 11 servings of whole grains and your diet will include substantial amounts of vegetable protein.
Next: My own story and position about meat
My Own Story:
I have been vegetarian much of my life. When researching how to overcome my 15 years of ill health though, I had a Vital Assessment done. To my surprise, eating lamb tested positive for me. I was hesitant but decided to give it a try in the spirit of regaining my health. I knew my body needed something.
I found lamb that was raised humanely and organically, and once a week for several months I ate a small portion. I was surprised how my body felt to receive this nourishment. It was medicine for my body. Medicines, as we all know, are to be taken sparingly.
Eventually I did not want to eat the meat any more and coincidentally, my next Vital Assessment came back with lamb testing negative.
Next: What are your options?
So you decide to be a vegetarian
There is a whole arena of foods that you probably have not yet discovered that will fill the gap that may be left by meat. For instance, there are dozens of varieties of grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Also, there are things like tofu and tempeh and a whole vast range of vegetables that perhaps you have yet to discover.
So you decide you do not want to give up meat
You many not want to give up meat for a variety of reasons which is fine. The only thing that I say to those I am working with is to simply eat less. A little goes a long way. We know from all of the research that lots of red meat is simply not healthy.
Dr. Dean Ornish suggests that red meat lovers can reduce their risk by cutting meat one day a week. Something as simple as a Meatless Monday can help, he said. “Even small changes can make a difference.”
Watch for an upcoming article: Tips for a Vegetarian. I will go into detail about all of the things you can do to make for a healthy vegetarian diet that is easy to digest.
High Protein Vegetarian Recipes:
- How to Cook Quinoa: this powerfood has between 16.2 - 20 percent protein, and a nutty taste.
- Red Lentil Soup: This is fast and tasty! Everyone needs to know about lentils.
- Nutritious Nut Loaf: Every possible nut!
- Gingerbread Cake: Wheat-free, egg-free, sugar-free. Lucky this is good for you. You will want to eat a lot!
- Raw Apricot Coconut Balls: And they’ve got protein too!
Are you a vegetarian? Why?