All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian – Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has said that 70% of all Americans are death because diseases that are directly tied to their eating habits. several studies confirm that a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and soy is your best bet for living a longer, healthier and intersting life.
At the same time, you’re doing the planet a big favor by helping to preserve natural resources and cutting down on pollution generated by animal agriculture. In addition, you may appreciate your amazing meals even more knowing that no animals suffered along the way. There are literally hundreds of great reasons to switch to a plant-based diet; here are seven of the best we’ve heard.
Why go vegetarian?
The Healthy Vegetarian
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase opportunities for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Albert Einstein.
Health and vegetarianism go together. If this is in any way a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention to the preponderance of nutritional and medical research that advocates plant-based diets for everyone.
Meat-based diets are weighted with unhealthy fats, too much protein, and loaded with calories, pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals. Meat might be what’s for dinner, but it definitely is not what’s good for our health.
In dramatic contrast, healthy vegetarian diets are full of fruits and vegetables, plenty of fiber, tons of nutrients, less saturated fats, and less cholesterol. Additionally, plant-based diets are comprised of a far greater variety of foods, making these diets not just more healthful and nutritious but also more exciting and fun.
Hundreds upon hundreds of scientific articles from around the world demonstrate that a healthy vegetarian diet is the single most powerful thing individuals can do to promote, protect, or improve their health.
Vegetarians have far lower rates of cancer. More than 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, and unfortunately this number is rising; it is estimated that there will be 15 million new cases per year by 2020. Cancer causes 6.7 million deaths every year—or 12 percent of deaths worldwide.
In addition to the enormous personal costs of these deadly diseases, cancer is one of the most expensive medical conditions: For instance, in the United States alone almost 1.4 million people are annually diagnosed with cancer at a cost of about $77.1 billion a year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Going vegetarian protects people against many, if not most, cancers, as scientists estimate that between 40 and 70 percent of cancer mortality is related to diet.
As with heart disease, no one knows for certain whether the protection offered by a vegetarian diet is the result of the increased vegetables or the absence of meat, but lately the evidence is coming down on the side of the absence of meat.
Vegetarians have far lower rates of type 2 diabetes and are far less likely to die of diabetes and its related risk factors than meat eaters. (Brathwaite et al., 2003).
The latest World Health Organization estimate for the number of people with diabetes worldwide is 177 million. This figure is likely to more than double by 2030.
Overall, direct health-care costs of diabetes range from 2.5 percent to 15 percent of annual healthcare budgets, depending on the prevalence of diabetes and the sophistication of the treatment available. A lifelong disease that can be dangerous, diabetes has become a golbal epidemic.
Eventually it causes damage to the nerves and blood vessels, leaving individuals at increased risk for eye, heart, blood vessel, nerve, and kidney disease. It is strongly linked to meat-loaded diets high in saturated fat and shares all the common markers of coronary heart disease: raised cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, and obesity.
The Growing Problem – Obesity
Vegetarians have lower rates of obesity than meat eaters; the body mass index of vegetarians is closer to the desired 20-25 BMI than that of the rest of the population (Pi-Snyder, 1991). This is seen throughout the world.
Following the same dynamics as diabetes, weight problems and obesity have become a worldwide epidemic: More than 1 billion adults are overweight, and at least 300 million of them are clinically obese.
The United States amplifies these statistics: 127 million Americans are overweight, 60 million are obese, and 9 million are severely obese. While these rates are rising substantially throughout all of North and South America and Europe, obesity has now emerged even in traditionally slender populations such as China and Japan.
This epidemic has reached our young people as well: 15.5 percent of adolescents and 15.3 percent of children are obese in North America, an alarming increase in recent years.
These figures for childhood obesity become even more disturbing when weighing the health costs: Fully half of obese kids have a combination of high blood pressure, insulin resistance, unhealthy cholesterol, and other metabolic abnormalities.
Vegetarianism is the easiest and healthiest way to lose weight. In a year-long study comparing Dean Ornish’s vegetarian diet to the Weight Watchers program, the Zone diet, and the Atkins diet, the vegetarian diet showed the most weight loss (Dansinger et al., 2005).
In general, the scientific literature has shown that dieters lose weight faster if they cut down on fat instead of carbohydrates, and as we have seen, vegetarians and vegans consume far less fat, especially saturated fat. Want to lose twenty pounds as effortlessly as humanly possible? Eliminate all animal products from your diet, and watch those pounds melt away.
Other Ways To Lose Your Mind
Alzheimer’s and other dementias continue to increase throughout the world and sadly, most people reading this have a close relative or family friend with Alzheimer’s or dementia. An estimated 24 million people currently suffer some form of dementia, a number that is only expected to rise in the next twenty-five years with the world’s aging populations.
There is growing evidence that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias follow the familiar pattern of cardio-vascular disease, and both are strongly linked to obesity and diabetes.
The vegetarian diet offers substantial protection against these devastating old-age diseases. (Giem et al., 1993).
The Big Medical Picture
The medical costs just in the United States due to meat consumption were estimated to be $30 to 60 billion a year, based upon the higher prevalence of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallstones, obesity, and food-borne illnesses among meat eaters as compared with vegetarians (Barnard et al., 1995). Because of skyrocketing medical costs in the last decade since this calculation, this figure is bound to be much higher today.
Worldwide figures are incalculable. Chronic diseases are now the major cause of death and disability worldwide, but medical conditions associated with meat-laden diets, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and cancer, now account for 59 percent of the 57 million deaths annually and 46 percent of the financial burden of disease.