Can you recall what the last meal that you had just taken is? Do you remember what is on your plate of food? Let me take a wild guess; one of them was meat. Was it a piece of sausage, or a few slices of crispy bacon, or some fried chicken wing, or a well-done sirloin steak? Probably not what I have just mentioned, but you would have said yes to the first one; meat.
Most of us grow up eating animal meat as our daily food intake, accepting the fact that meat is one of the must-haves in our daily meal. When someone tells you that he or she is a vegetarian, you will surely go “Ahhh…” and instantly feel that this person is brave enough to voluntarily give up eating meat in the name of health and religion. Even famous people and celebrities like Bill Clinton, Anne Hathaway, Leona Lewis, and Jason Mraz have opted for a meatless diet.
Instead of judging someone based on their food intake, why not try to understand the reason behind their devoted actions? Here are 10 reasons why people chose to go vegetarian:
1. Religious Beliefs
Many religions are associated with vegetarian diets. Religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikh and Jains promotes vegetarianism. Buddhist and Hindus, for example, abstains one from killing any living creatures as they believe in reincarnation and at some point, the soul may be reborn as an animal. While some other religions do not prescribe a vegetarian diet, they have certain restrictions towards the consumption of meat.
2. Nutritional Concerns
Vegetarian diets is said to be much healthier than diets which consists of meat. Scientific researches have proven that animal-based food actually increases the risks of many health problems and illness. In fact, vegetarians show that they have lower rates of hypertension, decreased risks of coronary heart diseases, and lesser risks of getting certain cancers.
3. Food Safety
Contaminated meat has been an issue for the past few decades. The E.Coli bacteria is one of the most commonly found bacteria in processed meat. Although it is not harmful towards the human body, unfortunately, some of the types (called strains) of E.Coli can get into the bloodstream through the intestines. This could cause a serious infection though it is a rare illness.
4. Animal Rights
More than 25 billion animals are being slaughtered each year just to be cooked and placed on dining tables. The process of production and slaughtering of animals have raised awareness on animal rights issues and thus, has become one of the main concerns for most vegetarians. This has even led many other former meat-consumers to change their daily meat intake and diet.
5. Food Additives
Most of the livestock or poultry produced by farm houses have been genetically modified before slaughtering. They are usually given a dose of antibiotics or hormones to increase their size and weight before being slaughtered and sold at regular markets. The injected hormones will then be consumed by regular families without their knowledge. These extra additives could lead to cancer growth and virus infections in the human body.
6. Environmental Concerns
Animal farms and production of livestock are responsible for almost 80% of greenhouse gases which are emitted from the agriculture industry worldwide. A recent study also shows that it is much more effective in fighting against global warming for a person to change his diet to a non-meat diet than to switch his car into a hybrid, electrically-generated car.
7. Concern for Labourers
Most slaughter houses and meat production factory are inherently dangerous, and the company’s profits are always placed before the basic human rights of the labourers. Many slaughterhouse managers hire numerous undocumented factory workers to meet the extremely high demand rate of the industry. These workers deal with heavy machineries and sharp bone-crushing tools while processing the meat, which exposes them to high risks of getting injured.
8. Economic Concerns
Consuming meat or animal products indirectly supports and promotes world hunger. Basic research shows that the amount of land used to raise a herd of cows, if used to plant vegetables or grains, could produce more than enough harvests to feed many more people that an animal could feed over its lifetime.
9. Medical Concerns
Very often doctors will prescribe and encourage vegetarian diets to their patients with certain health conditions as an alternative medicine. Adopting a vegetarian diet helps to improve one’s general health conditions and also reduce chronic health problems.
Some of the deadliest bacteria and viruses could enter the human body through animal-based food. Diseases such as Avian flu, salmonella, or bird flu could be avoided with a vegetarian diet. Chances of getting these illnesses can be reduced by cutting off meat and animal-based food in your daily diet.
Now, don’t you feel like changing your diet already? No? Here’s another heads up for you – Going meatless not only helps to reduce risks from serious chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity (yes, in some cases meat is the cause behind these illnesses!), but it also helps save the earth by reducing your carbon footprint and preserve the nature’s valuable resources such as fossil fuels and water.
Everyone knows that it is not easy to make a drastic change in our daily diet and go all extreme about vegetarianism. So why not take baby steps into reducing the intake of red meat, and see if you like what you’re contributing to yourself and the world?
Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people not to consume meat on Mondays to improve their health and general wellbeing. It also raises awareness on the effects of meat-production towards mother earth, which can be reduced by consuming less meat.
By taking the Meatless Monday pledge, you will be joining many other pledgers from all over the world to go meatless every Monday to help improve your health and the health of mother earth. As the saying goes, a little effort goes a loooooong way.
For more information visit meatlessmonday.com and pledge to go meatless starting from this coming Monday!
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Reasons Why People Become Vegetarian. n.d. 10 September 2013 <http://www.veggievisitors.com/why-become-vegetarian.htm>.
Sundblad, Donna. Why Do People Become Vegetarians. n.d. 10 September 2013 <http://vegetarian.lovetoknow.com/Why_Do_People_Become_Vegetarians>.
Understanding a Vegetarian Lifestyle – 10 Reasons People Go Veggie. n.d. 9 September 2013 <http://www.fitwatch.com/nutrition/vegetarian-lifestyele-reasons-why-123.html>.