To Veg or Not to Veg? This is the Question…

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Have you ever thought, perhaps you should become a Vegetarian? There are various reasons, benefits and disadvantages I’m sure as well to making this life choice. Lets take a few moments to explore and see if this is the choice for you.

People choose vegetarian diets for a variety of reasons.

Improving their health – reducing the risks of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer is one common reason.

I’ve read that celebrities, like Adele trimmed down by adhering to a strict vegetarian diet. And according to the CDC 65% of Americans are considered to be obese, yet the existence is below 10% of vegetarians and vegans. Researchers have found that switching can lead to weight loss, even without exercise, counting calories or carbs and increase your calorie burn factors. One key factor in doing it RIGHT is to not only drop the animal based foods but replacing them with whole, nutrient-rich food. Make sure you pay attention to your protein intake but DON’T rely on cheese for it. Protein boosts metabolism and preserves muscles, but limit yourself to one ounce daily and ensure it is either real, natural or organic. Quinoa, lentils and almonds are good sources of protein as replacements.

The EnvironmentConcerns about world hunger and the production of animal foods which uses land that could be used to grow plant-based foods. This is a major cause of deforestation and soil erosion worldwide. Another reason is concerns about antibiotics, hormones, pesticide residues or disease-causing agents that may be present in meat. An example of this would be the mad cow disease of recent history. Depending on the area of study, greenhouse emission samples, “carbon footprints” and a host of studies by professors and scientists these conclusions can vary. The “Farm To Table” movement embraces the idea of eating more NATURAL food. Produce that basically skips the middle man or corporate America. You have available more locally grown produce with less likely use of pesticides and such to maintain its freshness during shipping. If you have ever picked a fresh ear of corn, ripe tomato or piece of vine ripened fruit and been able to eat it that same day, you will understand the flavor and taste difference is unsurpassed. SO, if you decide to go vegan for these reasons, all I can suggest is to research multiple sources.

Ethical– Some vegetarians object to inhumane practices of animal farming. They feel the mistreatment of animals on these farms in overcrowded pens and cages which are used to mass produce is not how the animals should be raised.  Some farmers adapted the concept of free range animals because of these concerns. Animals are allowed to roam freely on the farm and are not kept in pens or cages.

I believe this was a large practice that has been somewhat modified due to the actions of PETA, the CDC an FDA on ensuring better slaughter house practices for feeding the masses. With that being said, monitor your own socially aware compass and research materials to make your decision. Don’t be disheartened if everyone doesn’t follow your choice, but do what is right for you.

Religion– Others follow a vegetarian diet according to their religious custom. Hindus, Jewish even Muslims follow certain vegetarian guidelines.  Christian denominations advocating a fully vegetarian diet include the Seventh-day Adventists, the Rastafarians, and the Hare Krishna’s. Catholics observe certain vegetarian concepts in times of religious significance such as Fridays in observance of the crucifixion and Wednesdays, the day when Judas betrayed Jesus.

Many religious beliefs focus on prohibiting cruelty to animals and ministering to the poor and hungry. Yet, in the US 66% of the grain grown is used to feed livestock to meet the needs of the meat eating culture. Also, if religion dictates that your body is your temple, it is understandable that it would also instruct healthier eating choices. Simply put, if you understand that you have been beautifully crafted by The Master- regardless of which faith you practice- then it would only make sense to take care of your temple. A diet centered around fast processed foods would not be wise in any faith.

Economical– In an attempt to live more simply and in closer harmony with the way most of the world’s population eats, some choose to be vegetarian. Those of a lower economical stand point may not have that “choice” in how they feed their families. It may be just that they can not afford to include meats in their diets and have to make more frugal food choices.

I’m sure many of us have noticed when you go to your local grocery store, it seems the more unhealthy the food item the lower the price. But, if you decide yo want to eat healthier choices it costs a small fortune! Families of lower income brackets who struggle to feed their family suffer this dilemma daily. One reason for this could be supply and demand. It is said that vegetarians only account for approx. 3% of the population- therefore food choices are considered specialty items which carry a higher price tag. A suggestion could be to start small. Perhaps, try adding a meatless option once a week or one meal a day. Using dry beans, grains or other sources of protein can be a more cost effective way to add to your nutritional intake and not break your budget.

So, as the question remains, To Veg or Not To Veg, becoming a vegan or vegetarian is a personal choice. Whatever reason suits you, increasing your nutritional intake versus eating what’s on hand can ultimately improve the quality of life in some way. So make sure to get your VEG ON!!

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