Healthy lifestyles have come to dominate the minds of many people in the contemporary society, a fact that has brought to life many exciting trends in all aspects of social functioning. As food is directly related to our health, it is no wonder that people have begun to pay increased attention to the food they eat. In particular, this interest has sparked renewal of vegetarianism, which is an easy way to attain a healthy lifestyle through abandoning animal foods.
Vegetarianism has important philosophical grounds related to murdering animals and the fact that all life on earth should be respected and protected. Unlike extreme ideas about animal rights that go as far as forbid people to ride mules for their benefit, advocates of vegetarianism proceed from one simple principle - that killing is wrong and animals have the same right to live. In theory, such a position means that a person is striving to live in harmony with the outer world, a feature that in itself can promote healthier lifestyle. However, there more matter-of-fact arguments in favor of vegetarianism, and these arguments hinge on the nutritional benefits of a veggie diet.
There is no need to remind that obesity in many developed nations including the US is acquiring threatening dimensions, turning into a national problem. American stick to their traditional diets that have too many calories and too much fat (especially saturated fat), cholesterol, and sodium” (Higgins). These drawbacks of American food habits can be reduced if people choose to reduce their intake of meat or give up eating meat altogether. Plant diets have been found to be healthier by the American Dietetic Association that acknowledged the health value and nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets. Thus, the Oxford Vegetarian Study seeking to related intake of meat to body mass indexes interviewed 1914 male and 3378 female non-smoker respondents to arrive at the following results. Based on the information on consumption of dietary fiber and animal fats provided in the questionnaire, subjects were classified into meat eaters and non-meat eaters. In all age groups, the body mass index was found to be lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters (Higgins). Thus, vegetarianism can be a viable solution to the problem of obesity that has important repercussions for medical problems and health care budgets.
The above does not mean that vegetarianism is only good for those who have weight problems. Those who are satisfied with their body mass index can find a lot of benefits in consuming vegetarian products and abandoning meat. Few medical professionals would argue that “the high percentage of fat in it is one of the main reasons for heart attacks, high blood pressure” (Lopa Berlin 2004). Thus, for an average American man the risk of dying of a heart attack amounts to 50%, whereas for a vegetarian this risk is only 15%, a fact explained by relative consumption of cholesterol by meat eaters and vegetarians (Vegsource).
The effect of meat consumption upon the origin of cancer has not been studied in detail, but statistics found in different studies indicate that a person can reduce the risk of cancer greatly by reducing intake of meat and related products. Most cancer researchers report that vegetarianism reduces the risk of cancer. Consumption of meat raises the “risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week” by 3.8 times (Vegsource). Men who are used to daily consumption of meat, eggs and other animal foods the risk of prostate cancer increases by 3.6 times as opposed to those who only occasionally eat these products. Even frequent consumption of eggs or butter leads to greater risk of developing cancer as opposed to those who have totally given up animal products, as breast cancer risk increases by 3.25 times with butter and cheese consumption and 2.8 times for egg eating. These data suggest that even partial reduction in the amount of meat consumed can lead to decreased risk of cancer, a serious argument in favour or rethinking one's attitudes towards vegetarianism.
Some people may argue that meat contains protein and other substances that are absolutely indispensable for their health and help them grow big and strong. Men in particular can be concerned that if they give up meat altogether, this may leave them emaciated and undernourished. Scientists indicate that “the muscle meat of animals for slaughter contains an average of 3-30% fat, 21% protein, 1% mineral salts (e.g. table salt, calcium, phosphoric acid), 0,5% carbohydrates and 70-75% water, and vitamins” with fat, protein and carbohydrates being easily replaceable with plant food (Lopa Berlin 2004). This adds up to the fact that animal fats demonstrate high concentration and risk of overconsuming protein with the excessive intake of meats. Protein, the main aim of many meat eaters, is available from grain, soy beans and many varieties of nuts, and so vegetarians consuming these products supply their bodies with all necessary nutrients. Thus, there should be no fear that a vegetarian diet will deprive a human body of necessary nutrients.
Besides, this discussion does not focus on some abstract concept of meat. Talking of meat that is produced in the US, for instance, one can find many additional arguments in support of vegetarianism. Thus, of all antibiotic medication produced in the US, 55% is fed to animals (Lopa Berlin 2004). This is a serious reason to ponder once again about the quality of the products we consume on a daily basis. From 1960 to 1988, the proportion of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin rose from 13% to 91% (Vegsource). The potential danger of animals developing infections resistant to currently known antibiotics has led the European Union to prohibit their use, while it is still allowed in the US. An American giving up meat, therefore, shields one's organism from serious dangers.
Thus, vegetarianism can help one to protect one's health and thus is an inalienable feature of a healthy lifestyle. A person choosing a plant-based diet will more easily lose extra weight if any. Vegetarians are at lower risk for a number of serious diseases including cancer, and will not suffer from inadequate controls over meat production. These are strong arguments in favor of a vegetarian diet that can help many people improve the quality of their lifestyle.
Higgins, Kristin. Vegetarianism; the pros and cons of a meatless diet. In: Shlundt, David. Weight Loss in America. Vanderbilt University, March 22, 1998. <http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/vegpage.html>.
Lopa Berlin. Arguments for vegetarianism. <http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/8522/veget_e.html>.
Vegsource. How to Win an Argument With a Meat Eater. <http://www.vegsource.com/how_to_win.htm>.