Following is the second part of the Vegetarian Essentials that gives you ample reasons to make your first steps towards a plant-based Diet. Enjoy reading!
Why Switch to a Plant-Based Diet? Seven Life-Changing Benefits of Becoming a Vegetarian
1. Better health
The most common reason for people to move to a vegetarian life-style is for better health. Here is a selection of health benefits that a well-balanced vegetarian cuisine can offer:
Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer, than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University.
Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in the United States, and the standard American diet (SAD), laden as it is with saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy, is largely to blame. Cholesterol levels are 14% lower for vegetarians than for meat eaters.
The battle of the bulge has become a serious health problem around the world. Being overweight or obese also causes many people a great deal of emotional, mental, and physical discomfort. Vegetarian foods balance your body so that you’re more in touch with what actually tastes good and makes you feel good at the same time.
Some studies have found that a plant-based diet helps protect specifically against prostate, colon and skin cancers. Studies done at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg suggest that this is because vegetarians’ immune systems are more effective than the immune systems of meat eaters in killing off tumors.
- You’ll protect yourself from food-borne illnesses
According to the U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has stringent standards of food safety, 25% of all chicken sold in the United States carries salmonella bacteria. In addition, the CDC estimates that 70-90% of chickens contain the campylobacter bacteria (some strains of which are antibiotic-resistant); approximately 5% of cows carry the lethal strain of E. coli O157:H7 (which causes virulent diseases and death!); and 30% of pigs slaughtered for food each year are infected with toxoplasmosis (caused by parasites).
Back pain appears to begin, not in the back, but in the arteries. The degeneration of discs, for instance, which leads to pinched nerves, starts with the arteries leading to the back. Eating a plant-based diet keeps these arteries clear of cholesterol-causing blockages, thus helping to maintain a healthy back.
Every year people spend literally billions of dollars on cosmetics and personal care products in their quest for youth and beauty. Yet just by choosing vegetarian foods, you’ll enjoy more beautiful skin and hair than you ever could by purchasing expensive beauty products. Vegetarian foods nourish your body from the inside out, providing a wide variety of invigorating antioxidants and nutrients.
2. You will enjoy a better conscience
• Becoming a vegetarian is in harmony with the yoga principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence. Raising animals for food causes untold suffering for no real purpose other than to satisfy people’s desire for meat. While some people make the argument that you have to kill living things even to survive as a vegetarian—and there is truth in this statement—the fact is that animals have a much higher consciousness than plants and experience far greater suffering when killed. Eating a plant-based diet is by far the more compassionate choice. Becoming a vegetarian helps us to cultivate qualities conducive to spiritual realization, such as compassion, self-control, and peacefulness. The toxins and stress hormones found in meat cause us to be more tired, stressed, and irritable. Vegetarian food choices have just the opposite effect. They uplift your mood, enhance your feelings of peace and optimism, and give you lots of exuberant energy.
3. Better for the environment
Vegetarian food choices make the best use of our world’s precious resources. They use just a small fraction of the amount of water, land, and fuel that it takes to raise animals for meat. Factory farms, where animals are raised for meat, are also one of the biggest polluters of our waterways.
Simply becoming a vegetarian is the biggest single step you can make to help protect the environment.
It takes 15 pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. But if the grain were given directly to people, there’d be enough food to feed the entire planet. In addition, using land for animal agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef!
4. More taste – more color – more joy!
When transitioning from a meat-based diet, often rich in processed foods, to a vegetarian diet, your taste buds will regain a much more refined taste sensorium. This will greatly enhance the taste of your foods and increase your joy in eating. Vegetarian cuisine offers endless varieties and possibilities. It offers an ever-changing rainbow of flavors, textures and tastes.
Meat, chicken and fish tend to come in boring shades of brown and beige, but fruits and vegetables come in all the colors of the rainbow. Disease-fighting phytochemicals are responsible for giving produce their rich, varied hues. So cooking by color can be a good way to ensure that you are eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.
5. You will be a great role model for your kids.
If you set a good example and feed your children good food, chances are they’ll live a longer and healthier life. You’re also creating a market for vegetarian products and making it more likely that they’ll be available for your children in the future.
6. You will help to bring down the national debt
Most Western nations spend large amounts annually to treat the heart disease, cancer, obesity, and food poisoning that are byproducts of a diet heavy on animal products.
7. Going vegetarian is easy!
Vegetarian cooking has never been so simple. We live at a time that offers us all the possibilities, resources and ingredients.
Please see the previous Blogpost for numerous online resources.