FOR THE BODY
The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarian diets offer nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterolÿand higher levels of carbohydrates,ÿfiber, magnesium, potassium, folte, andÿantioxidantsÿsuch as vitaminsÿC and E.ÿ
Myth: Vegetarian diets do not have sufficient sources of proteins, calcium and vitamin B12. Studies atÿHarvard University have confirmed that vegetarian diets provide sufficient protein and calcium intake when various plant sources are consumed. Dried fruits and nuts are rich in vitamin B12.
Not only is the vegetarian diet healthier, it also provides protection against around 159 types of diseases caused by consumption of non-vegetarian food, according to the World Health Organization. There have been incidences of foot-and-mouth disease in sheep, mercury in fish and artificial growth hormonesÿinjected into cattle. A 2005 report by Environmental Defense estimated that 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. go to chickens, hogs and beef cattle.
In addition, one-third to one-half of all chicken meat marketed in the U.S. is contaminated with salmonella, a group of bacteria that can lead to gastrointestinal infection in the short-term and chronic arthritis gradually. The rate of disease among chickens is so high that the Department of Labor has ranked the poultry industry as one of the most hazardous occupations for those who raise, slaughter and process them. Also, studies indicate that risk for breast cancer increases in proportion to red meat a woman eats, regardless of her age.
On the other hand, it is proved that vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure, and fewer chances of heart disease, hypertension,ÿdiabetes, renalÿdisease, osteoporosis and dementiasÿsuch as Alzheimer’s Disease.ÿ
FOR THE MIND
Jainism, a scientific religion, propagates lacto-vegetarianism (following a vegetarianÿdiet which includes milk and its products, but excludes eggs). It believes that when an animal is slaughtered, all the feelings produced at that time like anger, pain and negative radiations are inside it and get transferred to the consumer. Studies have now proven that a red-meat eater is comparatively more violent and hot-tempered. You are what you eat!
Big picture: the major difference between animals and humans is that they can think about the consequences of their actions. We understand the significance of living in a clean environment and leaving a green environment as legacy to our future generation. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, “meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse emissions” accelerating global warming. It produces 37 percent of human-induced methane (23 times warmer than carbon-dioxide) and 65 percent of nitrous oxide (296 times warmer than carbon-dioxide.) Also, it is a major driver of deforestation as new pastures are created by clearing forests in order to feed animals mass-produced using artificial sperms and raised for slaughtering. Moreover, the livestock business is polluting scarce water resources by animal wastes, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.
FOR THE SOUL
Every year in the U.S., more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food!
Before you eat non-vegetarian food next time, just close your eyes and visualize the following description by PETA: Factory farms are treated like meat, milk and egg machines. Chickens have their sensitive beaks seared off with a hot blade, and male cattle and pigs are castrated without any painkillers. All farmed chickens, turkeys and pigs spend their brief lives in dark and crowded warehouses; many of them so cramped that they can’t even turn around or spread a single wing. They are mired in their own waste, and the stench of ammonia fills the air. Animals raised for food are bred and drugged to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible-many are so heavy that they become crippled under their own weight and die within inches of their water supply.
Animals on factory farms do not see the sun or get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. Many die during transport, and others are too sick or weak to walk off the truck after they reach the slaughterhouse. The animals who survive this hellish ordeal are hung upside-down and their throats are slit, often while they’re completely conscious. Many are still alive while they are skinned, hacked into pieces or scalded in the de-feathering tanks.
Thus, if you make decisions from either your mind or your heart (assuming that you have at least one of the two), you will not be able to eat non-vegetarian food again.
On the lighter side, go veggie because it is cool. Shania Twain, Richard Gere, Pamela Anderson and Penelope Cruz are all vegetarians! On adopting vegetarianism, Alicia Silverstone says, “Nothing’s changed my life more. I feel better about myself as a person, being conscious and responsible for my actions, and I lost weight and my skin cleared up and I got bright eyes and I just became stronger and healthier and happier.”
Smita Jain Kothari is an RC partner. She is taking courses towards the Masters in Journalism at the Harvard Extension School. She aspires to be an editor and feature writer for magazines. Smita loves traveling to non-commercial destinations; Antarctica and French Polynesia top her dream-list!