Adopting a Vegetarian Lifestyle
Disease has been a major cause of death for a long time now. The best medicine for disease has always been improving one’s diet. Take cancer for example, this disease accounted for 30% of the total mortality in Canada. In 2008, there were approximately 748,897 Canadians who had been diagnosed with Cancer in the previous 10 years (Travis et al 27). The Canadian Cancer society has estimated that if this trend continued there could be 186,400 new cases of cancer in the country and 75, 500 deaths registered by the year 2012 if this trend continues unchecked. Cancer, like many other diseases-diabetes, heart disease, HBP among others- continue to haunt people’s health. One major proposal to alleviate the effects of disease in this new age is though proper dieting. There have been those who have pushed for a vegetarian diet believing that this would improve an individual’s quality of life. In this regard, it may be important that people consider adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.
Many Medical experts have confirmed that excessive meat consumption causes obesity, gout and other complications. Additionally, many studies prove that red meat consumption is directly related to health complications. Scientific studies in England and Germany revealed that vegetarians were 40% less likely to develop cancer compared to red meat consumers. Harvard studies have also shown that frequent meat eaters have approximately 3 times more risk to get colon cancer compared to people who rarely eat meat. Over- consumption of meat significantly increases the risk of stomach cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. In view of these facts, people need to pay more attention to what they eat to avoid health such health complications. Adopting a vegetarian diet would benefit the society more than continuing on this dangerous path. Furthermore, meat consumption has detrimental effects on the physical health and emotional health of individuals. A vegetarian lifestyle may not be easy for everyone to adopt (Lambe 73). Considering the effects of the red meat intake, for example, the increased risk of death, it may be prudent to replace red meat with poultry and fish. In addition, one may employ plant-based proteins results that would help one achieve a longer life.
Another reason for encouraging a vegetarian lifestyle is to mitigate the depletion of animal population and exploitation of livestock resources. The contemporary farm industry is interested in maximizing output at the lowest costs. Therefore, livestock are brought up in extremely stressful conditions. In factory farms, the livestock are usually raised in windowless sheds and wire cages where they do not have proper exercise, and in which they are restricted to eating particular kinds of diets (Shankar & Srivastava). The most widely known example of animal abuse is force-feeding where farm workers force-feed geese or hens to enlarge their livers. Force-feeding is just one example of animal abuse, and there are other numerous examples of animal abuse. In this regard, adopting a vegetarian lifestyle is not only about living healthy, it is also about the taking a moral stance against abuses against livestock.
Some medical experts and other critics argue that vegetarians’ lifestyles could not support the intake of sufficient essential nutrients so that health complications such as malnutrition can occur when vegetarian people maintain their diets for long periods. This can occur when the vegetarian focuses on a small group of foods and ignore the other essential food groups. Iron and protein, in particular, can be missing from unbalanced vegetarian diets. The consumption of few calories can also cause health problems. Vegetarians may be eating healthy but most of the time, they consume a large percentage of roughages, vitamins and other minerals. They do however consumer very little calories and end up weak, emaciated and underweight. Medical professionals also propose that it is very difficult for pregnant women to manage the health of their unborn babies when they are vegetarians, even though it is possible.
It is not right for critics to say that a vegetarian lifestyle is not effective in terms of nutrient intake. This is simply false. While it is true that there are some people who have not been paying attention toward leading a fulfilling vegetarian lifestyle, this is more out of lack of knowledge than the inadequacies proposed by critics against a vegetarian life (Lambe 58). It is very possible to lead a healthy vegetarian life even for a pregnant woman. A foetus can receive proper nutrients from a vegetarian mother as long as the meals are well balanced and that the mother takes into account the nutrients needed during the pregnancy. Vegans need to work alongside their doctor and nutritionists if they need to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle while they are pregnant. In many cases, the pregnancy will develop well if the vegan mother makes small changes to the vegetarian foods that they select and supplement the food with iron tablets and vitamins. This goes to show that vegetarians can take all essential nutrients without eating meat substances (Miller 48).
The benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle cannot be undermined. Social action must be taken to ensure more people adopt a vegetarian lifestyle for healthy living. Society must ensure that there is information about eating healthy in hospitals, schools, places of work among other areas. It is also the right time that restaurants adopt exclusive vegetarian diets for the well-being of consumers. This would help individuals avoid food related health complications. Most importantly, social action may not be effective unless eating habits in the homes have been changed. It is important to sensitize families about the importance of providing healthy diets to their children and build a disease free society.
Lambe, William, and William Lambe. Water and Vegetable Diet in Consumption, Scrofula, Cancer, Asthma, and Other Chronic Diseases. New York: Fowlers and Wells, 1850. Print
Miller, Debra A. Vegetarianism. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Print
Shankar, Sharmila, and Rakesh Srivastava. Nutrition, Diet and Cancer. Dordrecht: Springer, 2012. Accessed on 27 November 2012. retrieved from www.springer.com/biomed/book/978-94-007-2922-3
Travis, R.C, N.E Allen, P.N Appleby, E.A Spencer, A.W Roddam, and T.J Key. A Prospective Study of Vegetarianism and Isoflavone Intake in Relation to Breast Cancer Risk in British Women. International Journal of Cancer. 122.3 (2008): 705-710. Print.