There are so many different diets people choose to follow – regular, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, raw, and so on. People have as varied reasons for their diet as there are a variety of diets. Typically these reasons are very personal. For myself, I have been a vegetarian for about 4 years now. It’s become such a normal part of my life that I generally don’t even think about it anymore. I realized though that I want to discuss it on here because it definitely is a part of my endeavour to live mindfully and heartfully. Here are three reasons why I’m a vegetarian.
Becoming vegetarian really sparked a new passion for food and cooking in me, and my meals are healthier, more colourful, and so much tastier as a result. Typically vegetarians eat more servings of vegetables and are consuming far less cholesterol than those with an average diet. The potential health advantages of vegetarian diets include less obesity, reduced risk of chronic disease, improved longevity, reduced risk of food-borne diseases, lower intakes of environmental contaminants, and improved nutritional intakes.
2. Cruelty to Animals
While I have no issue with eating animals in the strictest sense (and to those who purchase local, grass-fed, free-range, etc or hunt wild game – I think that is fantastic too), I have huge issues with the current state of the food industry. Factory farms are concerned with increasing output while keeping costs as low as possible, and this comes at the expense of the animals being farmed. Food animals are raised and slaughtered through stomach-churning, inhumane methods that I won’t get into here. Also, I think it’s important to remember seafood. For every one pound of shrimp caught, up to six pounds of other species – fish, turtles, seabirds, etc are discarded as bycatch. In other types of fishing, even dolphins, whales, and sharks are killed.
Choosing a vegetarian diet is one of the most effective steps towards reducing an ecological footprint. It assists in the preservation of water resources, helps prevent water pollution, helps preserve the planet’s valuable ecosystems, (Not-So-Fun Fact: For every fast-food burger made from rain forest beef, 16.75 square meters of tropical rain forest has been cleared.) provides strong protection against desertification, may help protect against catastrophic environmental changes (animal agriculture significantly increases all major global warming gases), and reduces consumption of the earth’s dwindling resources.
Diet is, of course, a very personal choice, and this is what makes sense to me for me. Brad and I are lacto-ovo vegetarians. This means we do not eat meat, poultry, or fish. We do, however, use milk (lacto) and eggs (ovo), though in very moderate quantities. We’re essential vegan at home, though on occasion we do buy cheese or eggs from local farms. This is to support small-scale farmers in our community, ensure that the animals are treated well, and benefit the environment.
For more information:
Becoming Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis – I read this book when I was first thinking about transitioning to a vegetarian diet. It was very informative, balanced, and honest. I gleaned a fair bit of the information in this post from this book as well important information regarding nutritional needs.
Food Matters – This documentary looks at the relationship between nutrition and health.
Forks Over Knives – I actually have not watched this documentary, but I have heard good things about it. It explores the idea of moving away from animal-based and processed foods and the effects that will have on health.
What type of diet do you consume? What are your thoughts on the vegetarian diet?