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Vegetarians: Why

Being a strict vegetarian means making the choice to eat absolutely no meat, poultry, or fish. The health risks of being a vegetarian was a major concern, but it has been proven that non-meat foods can provide all the nutrients necessary for a healthy, complete diet. Jeanne Peters, R. D. , the former nutrition specialist to Pritikin Systems, argues that Ascience has proved that a plant-based diet is the healthiest@ (Finn 1). Many scientific studies have also proven that meat dramatically raises blood pressure and increases health risks such as heart attacks and cancers.

Also, growing concerns over environmental protection, personal health, and moral and ethical beliefs often lead to vegetarianism. According to national polls, in the U. S. alone Athere are 12. 5 million vegetariansB 7 percent of the population@ (Finn 1). Concerns are rising about the relationship between meat production and our environment. Beef production is a very inefficient way to produce protein. The amount of grain which is needed to Aprovide four people with one serving of hamburgers could feed one person for over a week@ (R. F. B. V. 1).

In Alberta Amore than 50% of the grain grown is fed to livestock@ (R. F. B. V. 3). This 50% of grain could definitely be put to much better uses in a world where people starve to death every day. In fact, Aproduction of the least energy-efficient plant foods are nearly ten times more efficient as the production of the most energy-efficient animal foods@ (Finn 2). For example, one acre of land planted with legumes yields ten times more available protein than if that same acre was used for meat production. Furthermore, the production of meat wastes massive amounts of water:

AIt takes an average of 10 tons of waterBthe amount a small town uses for all purposes in a month. An average chicken processing plant uses 100 million gallons of water in just one day; enough to provide a community of 25,000 people for one day@ (R. F. B. V. 3). Not only is meat production wasting valuable production means, but it is also polluting our air. Cattle are a main source of methane gas, which is rapidly destroying our ozone layer. Vegetarians often replace meat and dairy foods with soy products. These foods are highly nutritional and contain disease-fighting properties.

The National Cancer Institute has Aidentified specific substances in soy products called phytochemical that have anticancer properties@ (Finn 7). In 1994, the British Medical Journal announced that: researchers have examined 12-year mortality rates of non-meat eaters and meat-eating control groups and found that cancer deaths were 40 percent less common among vegetarians then meat eaters… Also, a 1990 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that daily meat consumption doubles an individual=s risk of colon cancer. Finn 3) Plant based foods have more fiber nd less fat than meat products, and also contain Ahigh amounts of vitamins E, C and beta-carotene@ (Finn 3).

These natural ingredients help to keep the human body healthy and protect it from cancer and other diseases. Contrary to what most people think, essential nutrients such as calcium and protein are easy for vegetarians to obtain. Calcium is found in broccoli, collards, and spinach; protein is found in beans, rice, seeds, and nuts. In addition, zinc and iron deficiency is not a major concern, as it has long been believed.

Zinc, which is needed for wound healing and proper growth and evelopment is easily obtained from nuts, grains, and legumes. Iron is abundantly supplied in dried fruits, lima and kidney beans, lentils, millet and wheat. AFor most humans, especially those in modern urban and suburban communities, the most direct form of contact with non-human animals is at mealtime; we eat them@ (R. F. B. V. 6). Many people become vegetarians because they believe that it is morally wrong to slaughter animals for food and because they are against the cruelty and suffering inflicted upon the animals that are raised for food.

AHens are crammed into iny cages; calves are raised chained in crates; pigs may never see outside their pens@ (R. F. B. V. 6). This killing and torture is not a necessity, it is our choice. Fiddes states that Aeating other animals= flesh provides the ultimate authentication of human superiority over the rest of nature, with the spilling of their blood a vibrant motif@ (503). The very idea that we eat animals to show superiority is downright morally wrong. The reason that we eat should be because we are hungry for food and nutrients, not because we are hungry for power.

Vegetarian diets are agreeable with oth Dietary Guidelines and Recommended Daily Allowances for all necessary nutrients. It has also been scientifically proven that essential proteins are not limited in a vegetarian diet. Ample protein is found in eggs and diary products (for less strict vegetarians) or in nuts, seeds, beans, or rice to mention a few. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has recently Arecommended to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that vegetarian diets are an appropriate alternative to the typical fat-laden American eating problem@ (V. D. G. B. 1).

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