Would becoming a vegetarian lead to a healthier lifestyle?

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・MLA ・5 Sources

Vegetarianism has become one of the most popular trends in recent years, promoting a longer, happier, and healthier life while also preventing animal cruelty. Vegetarianism is a way of life that has a lot of benefits if you take it seriously. I became a vegetarian a year ago. I decided to change my lifestyle because I became aware of animal cruelty worldwide and realized that becoming a vegetarian would be one way to avoid it. It made me sick to think that living beings are being slaughtered and tortured for the selfish benefit of humans. One person can make a difference. In addition to helping the animals, there are many health benefits when converting to vegetarianism. It can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle, but you have to balance out what you omit. Meat eaters think that us vegetarians don’t have a wide range of food selection, but we actually have a very large one; It all comes down to doing some research and creating mixed, healthy, and filling foods. When raising a child, many people believe that the consumption of animal products provides optimal nutrition benefits, but they can also develop many diseases, contain steroids, hormones, antibiotics, not to mention high levels of saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Vegetables are packed in full of nutrients that human body needs to sustain good health. Continuous consumption of animal fats is poisonous to the stomach and root to many kinds of chronic and deadly diseases. Becoming a vegetarian is an excellent way of improving health condition from the damage caused by fats and cholesterols in a day to day basis. Experiencing better health is one of its perks. Adopting vegetarian diet is associated with a higher consumption of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, magnesium, unsaturated fat, and countless phytochemicals. This often results in vegetarians having lower cholesterol, being thinner, having lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of heart disease (Wells, Cameron). Many healthcare researchers and nutritionists advise to limit meat consumption to 10% of total calorie intake to enjoy a healthier and disease-free life (Morell, Virginia). A vegetarian individual is free from overconsuming or wasting foods as it is less appealing in stimulating of appetite.

Non-vegetarian diet involves cruelty to animals, which is ethically wrong to some extent when vegetarian diet is available and non-harmful. Unlike plants, animals are sentient beings that can develop social connections and emotions. Many scientific studies have shown that animals, especially cattle, chickens, pigs and all warm-blooded livings that we consume in our food menu have feelings of fear, stress and pain (Grandin, Temple and Mark Deesing). To kill an emotional being for the sake of food takes human nature close to animals­–irrational and ferocious to kill the prey. Moreover, certain religion like the Buddhism does not support killing any animal and promotes vegetarian diet. Therefore, eating meat-rich diet is not religious to some extent.

Animal-based diet is harmful for the environment. There has been an issue of animal extinction associated with over consumption of animal diet. As a recent trend, food restaurants are preparing their dishes mainly on animal meats and offering variety of menus based on animals. About 35-million cows, 115-million pigs and 9-billion birds are killed each year in USA alone to satisfy unnecessary dietary preferences alone (Kolbert, Elizabeth). A growing concern regarding the excess killing of animals is developing across the world as it is related to the extinction of rare species of animals and bird in different geographical locations. The meat-greedy diet habit is clearly a threat to the biodiversity of the world. Increased livestock production leads to deforestation and scarcity of foods as it takes large acreage of agricultural lands. Research findings show that about 3,000,000 square kilometers of land area will be used to accommodate increased livestock production by the year 2050, which is a 30-50% increase over current land area used for the purpose (Morell, Virginia).

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Animal meats are notorious sources of disease spreading in an epidemic level. Each year, thousands of people die because of flue or diseases transmitted by animals. Farmers are applying large number of antibiotics and other drugs to livestock to help them recover from different diseases (Kolbert, Elizabeth). This large amount of antibiotic consumption is developing antibiotic resistant in animal’s health, which in turn is being transmitted to human health as they consume animal meat. Vegetables, on the other hand, less toxic and less of a transmitter of diseases and flues to human body and is considered to be safe for human health in all extent.

The anatomical structure of human has been evolved to support a vegetarian diet primarily. The structure of mouth, fingernails and teeth of human body reveals that humans are not meant to be carnivores. The short and flat structure of human teeth reveals that it is designed for chewing food with fiber not with tissue. The intestine length of human body also an indication that it is not good for animal flesh–research study shows that carnivores typically have short intestine length (3-to-6 times of their body length) as contrast to human intestine length, which is about 9-to-11 times larger than its body length (Jacob, Sam et al.). This intestine length of human promotes eating plant food as it provides larger time length for slower digestion of fiber-rich foods. Human liver is incapable of detoxication of many harmful elements of meat-rich food such as vitamin A.

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However, a complete vegetable dominant diet has few problems that may lead to severe health and environmental consequences. First of all, a certain amount of animal protein, fat and cholesterols are essential for the development and growth of human body and brain (Joyce, Christopher). Evidences show that human taste buds are evolved to carve savory flavor of animal meat, which is an indication that human body needs flesh protein (Mayell, Hillary). Nutritionists suggest to consume animal meat that is highly dense in protein and nutrient because it combines with low-nutrient and high-calorie plant carbohydrates in the development of brain and intelligence. There are few essential proteins, vitamins and other sources of energy that cannot be consumed other than from animal meat (Grosvenor, Mary B). Secondly, to keep the ecological balance of food chain, eating animals is an essential part of life cycle on earth. If people stops killing animal for the sake of food, a major catastrophe is likely to occur because of imbalance in food chain. Sometimes killing a species prevents its uncontrolled growth and keep the ecological balance of food chain. Thirdly, not all agricultural lands are good for producing plants or agro-based foods, which can be better utilized by producing animal foods. For example, in the USA alone, 85% of the lands are not suitable for plant cultivation but for farming animals (National Cattlemen's Beef Association,). Human are good at producing animal meat at much less effort than plants as it has been a historical tradition of human race.

In conclusion, it is obvious that human race can survive with vegetarian diet alone and it can be helpful to both their health as well as to the environment from many aspects. A vegetarian diet is likely to prevent many chronic and severe health consequences including heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes and cancers. Developing a vegetarian diet helps an individual free from the unethical act of killing animals that have emotions and feeling of pain and stress. A vegetarian can lead to more religious lifestyle than a non-vegetarian because vegetarian does not involve in animal killing or food wasting. Apart from health benefits, a vegetarian diet is good for environment as it is free from the concern of species extinction due to overkilling of animal for food or spreading animal flues. On top of everything, human anatomy is designed for plant-based food consumption. However, despite having all good factors that promotes a vegetarian diet, animal-based food has few essential nutrients content that cannot be sourced from plants. Again, to keep ecological balance of food chain and to better utilize available land area, production and consumption of animal food cannot be completely stopped. To solve the food crisis, to avoid environmental consequences of recent trend of over consumption of animal meat based food and to keep the nutrient demand of health fulfilled, a balanced diet that is mostly plant dominated is preferable solution for upcoming futures.

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Grandin, Temple and Mark Deesing. "Distress In Animals: Is It Fear, Pain Or Physical Stress?". American Board Of Veterinary Practitioners - Symposium 2, 2003,.

Grosvenor, Mary B. Visualizing Nutrition + Wileyplus. 1st Ed., [S.L.], John Wiley, 2012, Jacob, Sam et al. Human Anatomy. 1st ed., Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone, 2007,.

Joyce, Christopher. "Food For Thought: Meat-Based Diet Made Us Smarter". NPR.Org, 2017, http://www.npr.org/2010/08/02/128849908/food-for-thought-meat-based-diet-made-us-smarter.

Kolbert, Elizabeth. "Flesh Of Your Flesh". The New Yorker, 2009,.

Mayell, Hillary. ""Evolving To Eat Mush": How Meat Changed Our Bodies".

News. Nationalgeographic.com, 2005, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0218_050218_human_diet.html.

Morell, Virginia. "Meat-Eaters May Speed Worldwide Species Extinction, Study Warns".

Science Magazine, 2015,.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association,. The Environment And Cattle Production: Fact Sheet.

Www.Explorebeef.Org, 2011,.

Wells, Cameron. "5 Reasons A Vegetarian Diet Is Good For You". The Independent, 2017, p. Health. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/5-reasons-a-vegetarian-diet-is-good-for-you-a6710096.html.

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