“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein.
Looking to make a positive change in your diet? Go vegetarian, or better yet, vegan. It’s one of the most powerful ways to improve your life, health and wellbeing of other people, animals and the planet.
In the spirit of National Vegetarian Month, here is Part I of 10 reasons why going green (the veggie kind) is good for you:
- To Lengthen Your Life
An apple a day keeps the doctor away while following a plant based diet can lower your risk of certain cancers, heart disease and obesity. A comprehensive China Health Project study found that people who eat the least amount of fat and animal products have the lowest risks of cancer, heart attack and other chronic degenerative diseases. And, a British study that tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years found that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases. So much for the old-fashioned notion that we need meat to be healthy. Fact is, the opposite is true.
- A Healthier Heart
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, claiming the lives of approximately 650k Americans yearly. The typical American diet is no doubt to blame, filled with saturated fat and cholesterol from animal foods like meat and dairy. Today, the average American male eating an “All-American” meat-based diet has a 50% chance of dying from heart disease. His risk drops to 15% if he cuts out meat and plummets to only 4% if he goes vegan and cuts out meat, dairy and eggs. Why this heart-cleansing magic? Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidant nutrients that protect the heart and its arteries. Plus, produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Incidentally, cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than those who eat meat.
- You’ll Free Yourself of Harmful Antibiotics and Hormones
Animals on factory farms are frequently sick. This isn’t surprising given that they’re raised in filthy environments and fed diets inconsistent with their biological needs, such as with corn-fed cattle (cows are ruminants who are meant to digest grasses, not high-calorie grains). Because they are perpetually sick, these animals are routinely given antibiotics as both a reactive and preventative measure.
This is bad news for the people who consume their flesh. The antibiotics damage naturally occurring bacteria in the body, making humans more susceptible to disease. To present an even more frightening scenario, bacteria that’s routinely exposed to antibiotics eventually mutates to resist antibiotics entirely, which prevents their human host from being cured by certain medicines.
Also, animals in conventional factory farms are regularly pumped full of hormones to enlarge their edible parts. While there is much debate in the United States over the true health implications of consuming these hormones (the US has a massive beef industry, and powerful political lobbies have long blocked the exposure of substantiative literature on the subject), the European Union has declared them unsafe. In fact, the EU bans the importation of meat from animals raised in America. European studies show a correlation between hormones in red meat and prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers. These hormones have also been linked to early onset puberty, which later in life increases the risk for all three of these cancers.
4. Meat hugely contributes to global warming.
According to a United Nations report, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. Methane, a naturally occurring greenhouse gas, is one of the nastiest culprits of global warming; it traps 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide.
The methane emitted by livestock (raised for human consumption) is responsible for 19 percent of total global methane emissions. For instance, Circle 4 Farms, the world’s largest producer of pork with 1.2 million hogs raised and killed each year, creates more pollution than the entire city of Los Angeles.
5. Meat depletes oxygen.
Not only is air being polluted, but our very air supply is jeopardized by the meat industry. Acres upon acres of crucial rainforest is slashed every day to make room for cattle grazing. These pristine forests are considered the “lungs of the planet,” allowing every air-breathing being to replenish their oxygen supply. If you breathe air, you’ve got skin in the game. It’s a potentially suffocating reality.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Pt. 2 Reasons to Go Veg.