Reasons to stop eating meat
"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
There are numerous health and worldwide benefits from not eating meat. This requires putting aside certain attitudes and misconceptions that don't stand up to modern science. Just because our parents or peers believe something, doesn't make it right or true. Millions of people are vegetarian world-wide, through cultural, religious/spiritual and health reasons
There are quite a few misconceptions regarding our physiology that are used by meat eaters to explain why we should eat meat.We'll look at all of this in more detail, but there are two which stand out and are worth analyzing immediately:
- Canines. Check out dog or lion canines - huge and long hooked teeth for tearing flesh. Do we have teeth like that? No. Our canines and molars are perfectly adapted to grinding down, not tearing.
- Intestinal length. Carnivorous animals have short intestines, so that meat can pass through quickly before it starts to putrefy and lead to disease. We have long intestines, like other herbivores. This is why many health bodies recommend staying away from meat as much as possible. We don't process meat efficiently. Clearly, when we started to eat meat when vegetation was lean, we took on plenty of risks doing so. Happily, we don't need to anymore!
With the United Nations Environment Programme calling for "... a significant shift in diets away from animal based proteins towards more vegetable-based foods in order to dramatically reduce pressures on the environment", it's worth considering the benefits of a vegetarian diet - both for ourselves and the planet, and dispelling some of the myths regarding vegetarianism. It's time to rethink what industry has force fed us through advertising and what our fathers and forefathers believed.
"When we kill the animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings." --William C. Roberts, M.D., editor of The American Journal of Cardiology
Healthy Eating for a Healthy Life
Today, conventional medicine discourages eating an excess of meat. This is quite a swing from the old days, when meat eating was seen as something that would be done daily. Today however, we have access to different types of food that replace the necessity of eating meat. Also, we're starting to realize the fundamental misunderstanding with regards to protein requirements and protein sources - that many beans provide a complete protein and often provide per gram more protein than meat. Top athletes such as Scott Jurek, who has been the winner of many ultra marathons around the world, is a vegan, We should embrace this evolution that allows us to move away from meat products.
On a personal level, many people move away from meat for health reasons and feel better in ways they hadn't imagined. So before looking at the ins and outs of proteins, vitamins, and so on, as related to a vegetarian lifetsyle, here's what vegetarianism can do for your health!
GQ Magazine names the world's best burger... and it's vegan!
- World's best burger is vegan – Superiority in New York City crowned by GQ | Metro News
The famous $6 (£4) Superiority Burger, which has a fully vegan patty, has just been named the best the world has to offer by GQ magazine.
Liz O’Neill, of the Vegetarian Society: “Research in the UK has already shown that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer and significantly lower (32 per cent less) rates of heart disease.”
A Longer Life!
Studies have shown that vegetarians (following a well-balanced low-fat high-fibre diet) often have lower incidences of coronary artery disease, hypertension, obesity and certain forms of cancer. A vegetarian diet is usually lower in fat, as vegetarians tend to eat more polyunsaturated fat than saturated fat (animal products are the major sources of saturated fat). So a typical vegetarian diet closely matches expert dietary recommendations for healthy eating, being low in saturated fat and high in fibre, complex carbohydrates, and fresh fruit and vegetables - see research from the Harvard School of Public Health below.
As a result, vegetarians tend to live longer than meat-eaters.
The evidence can be seen at the German Cancer Research Center. From their website: "...vegetarians had a 30 % lower risk of dying from ischemic heart diseases compared to non-vegetarians. Although this finding failed to reach statistical significance, it may be truly attributed to abstinence from meat and is in line with the hypothesis that animal fat and a high cholesterol diet promote ischemic heart disease" Read the whole article here http://www.dkfz.de/en/presse/pressemitteilungen/2005/dkfz_pm_05_26_e.php
To put it simply, a vegetarian diet generally puts less stress on a person's system and longer life can generally be expected.
However, as well as avoiding saturated fats and so on, avoiding meat also removes the threat of other toxins entering the body.
A lot of non-organically reared cattle have been tampered with to increase produce size, through the use of growth hormones and such like. As a result, consuming this meat also means that these chemicals - that have no place in the food chain - are consumed by human beings. Also, non-organic intensively farmed animals that are meant for human consumption, are often stressed animals, and the coctail of hormones produced by these creatures are also passed into the food chain.
On another note, this is worth considering: When an animal approaches its moment of death, and is about to be slaughtered, what happens to all the adrenalin that is released? It goes straight into the meat, which ends up on your plate.
Something else to think about: What happens to all these toxins that are consumed by eating meat?
The three ignorant arguments used to undermine vegetarianism
The following three points are often used by meat eaters to undermine vegetarianism:
- Human physiology
In conversation, meat eaters will often say things such as, vegetarians can't get enough protein, or vitamins. Furthermore, they'll often cite human physiology as an example as to why we should eat meat, and end their arguments by saying things like, this is just the way life is. Lions kill gazelle, we also have to kill animals to live - and so on. They even think that vegetarians must somehow be weak, forgetting the number of vegetarian athletes in (healthy!) existence.
In this section the actual truth is put forward, with the help from information found at the Harvard School of Public Health
The Harvard School of Public Health looks at the protein package delivered by various meats and lentils i.e. the protein to fat ratio. These are the findings:
- Meat: A 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak delivers 38 grams of protein and delivers 44 grams of fat, 16 of them saturated. i.e. more fat than protein (Nearly three-fourths of the recommended daily intake for saturated fat.)
- Fish:The same amount of salmon gives delivers 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat, 4 of them saturated. i.e. more protein than fat
- Lentils: A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, but under 1 gram of fat. i.e. hardly any fat at all
It recommends to "...pay attention to what comes along with the protein. Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and whole grains, are excellent choices, and they offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals."
However, for those who won't change to vegetarianism, it's worth listening to what they have to say on what types of meat are best:
"The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry. If you are partial to red meat, stick with the leanest cuts, choose moderate portion sizes, and make it only an occasional part of your diet."
So there we we have it. From the top brains of the country - stay away from red meat. Stick to the white meats if you must.
Check it out here: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
It's easy to get overly worked up over the B12 issue and some of the arguments that circulate around are often based on a misunderstanding of the whole issue.
This page here describes the stuation clearly: http://www.vibrancyuk.com/B12.html
Check out the Vegetarian Society B12 Factsheet: : www.vegsoc.org/page.aspx?pid=807
Human physiology - Canine Teeth?
Physiology is often brought up by meat eaters, to support their view that we should be eating meat (usually only citing our two canine teeth). But take a look at the comparisons below, and decide for yourself (this is taken from a chart by A.D. Andrews, Fit Food for Men, Chicago: American Hygiene Society, 1970)
Meat-eaters: have claws
Herbivores: no claws
Humans: no claws
Meat-eaters: have no skin pores and perspire through the tongue
Herbivores: perspire through skin pores
Humans: perspire through skin pores
Meat-eaters: have sharp front teeth for tearing, with no flat molar teeth for grinding
Herbivores: no sharp front teeth, but flat rear molars for grinding
Humans: no sharp front teeth, but flat rear molars for grinding
Meat-eaters: have intestinal tract that is only 3 times their body length so that rapidly decaying meat can pass through quickly
Herbivores: have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length.
Humans: have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length.
Meat-eaters: have strong hydrochloric acid in stomach to digest meat
Herbivores: have stomach acid that is 20 times weaker than that of a meat-eater
Humans: have stomach acid that is 20 times weaker than that of a meat-eater
Meat-eaters: salivary glands in mouth not needed to pre-digest grains and fruits.
Herbivores: well-developed salivary glands which are necessary to pre-digest grains and fruits
Humans: well-developed salivary glands, which are necessary to pre-digest, grains and fruits
Meat-eaters: have acid saliva with no enzyme ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Herbivores: have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Humans: have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains
The United Nations Environment Programme calls for "... a significant shift in diets away from animal based proteins towards more vegetable-based foods in order to dramatically reduce pressures on the environment." Read it all here: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=628&ArticleID=6595&l=en
The livestock sector produces about 15% of global greenhouse gases, roughly equivalent to all the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. So without a concerted effort not to eat meat, global warming will just continue.
This is at last recognition of that fact, that large scale animal rearing puts intensive pressure on the environment, and is really unnecessary as there are alternatives.
Becoming vegetarian is often said to be a path of compassion - compassion for all living creatures. The Book of Genesis says: 'Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."'
If we're created in the likeness of God, is it not fitting to show some of the qualities associated with God, such as compassion?
And is our rule over all the creatures, not meant to be that of a caretaker, rather than a slaughterer and destroyer?
Humans seem to willingly forget that all creatures - all creatures - are sentient beings. Perversely, we love to see little lambs jump around the fields in spring, forgetting that they're going to be separated from their mothers and have their throats slit.
- The Intelligence and Sentience of Animals
Animals are far more cognizant than we give them credit for. Check out these amazing videos, including elephants that can paint pictures and the woman who communicates with a dangerous leopard!
Vegetarian Soc B12 Factsheet http://www.vegsoc.org/info/b12.html
Harvard School of Public Health: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
UN Environment Program: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=628&ArticleID=6595&l=en
German Cancer Research Center. http://www.dkfz.de/en/presse/pressemitteilungen/2005/dkfz_pm_05_26_e.php
The health benefits of a vegetarian diet