The case for vegetarianism is getting stronger by the day. Yet few meat eaters are aware of exactly how they’re affecting both their mental and physical well-being as well as the environment. Fewer still are able to break away from the habit of eating meat. This book lays the facts on the table and shows you how to take the leap into vegetarianism.
WHY BE A VEGETARIAN?
A study conducted on behalf of the Vegetarian Society found that a majority of people have taken to vegetarianism because they’re disturbed by the way animals are treated and killed just to appease the desire for meat.
Others are taking to this diet because they’re influenced by dieticians and doctors who constantly tell them about the positive effect of low fat and high fiber on their health.
Others are concerned about the effect meat-eating has on the environment.
Which reason resonates with you?
HOW DO YOU DEFINE A VEGETARIAN?
A vegetarian usually doesn’t eat:
• By-products of slaughterhouses, such as gelatin
• Fish (optional)
The vegetarian diet consists of:
• Nuts and seeds
• Dairy products
FANTASTIC FACTS BACKED BY SCIENCE
• Many vegetarian diets have more essential proteins than meat. Soya beans have 40% protein, while meat has only 20%.
• A hard working vegetarian laborer has three times more endurance than a meat-eating one.
• Many of the world record-holding athletes are vegetarians.
• Laboratory tests have proven that meat eaters suffer from much higher levels of aggression than those who don’t eat meat.
• Our intestines aren’t built to digest meat, which takes as long as five days to digest. The meat gets toxic as it sits in our intestines. This can cause rectal and colon cancer. On the other hand, vegetables take just one day to digest.
• Scientists were puzzled to discover that cattle casualties in the atomic bomb blasted Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very few. This was because of the potassium content in the grass these animals ate, which gave them resistance to radiation.
MEAT-EATING FROM AN ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
• From an ecological viewpoint, meat eaters are ruining the environment as well as their health. An amazing amount of forests have been destroyed – and still are – to make room for cattle farms and fields for animal fodder. Without the protection of forests, many species of animals have become extinct or endangered.
• The loss of forests has also, in turn, caused soil erosion and water pollution due to animal wastes. The fecal contamination of water from animal waste is about ten times higher than contamination from human waste.
• The fertilizers used to stimulate agricultural products to feed the animals we eat finally evaporate, releasing nitrogen, which rises to the ozone layer, making it thinner. Eventually, this destruction of ozone protection that shields us from radiation from the sun may become one of the most threatening end-of-the-world factors.
• There is also the burgeoning world population to contend with. How much of the precious land needed for human habitation is being used to raise the meat we eat? How much of the water supply goes into keeping the animals we eat alive?
ARE WE REALLY OMNIVORES?
Today, you’ll hear people saying that human beings are omnivores. Let’s examine that claim by comparing ourselves with herbivores and carnivores.
We’re closer to herbivores than carnivores as you can see by the following information from ‘Fit Food for Men,’ a chart by A.D. Andrews released by the American Hygiene Society of Chicago in 1970.
Meat-eaters have claws, sharp front teeth, and no flat molar teeth for grinding. Their intestinal tract is only 3 times the length of their bodies for the quick passage of rapidly decaying meat. Their stomachs have strong hydrochloric acid to digest meat and they don’t have the enzyme required for digestion of fruit and grain in their saliva, which is acidic.
Herbivores – and humans – have no sharp front teeth or claws. They have molars and their intestinal tract is 10 to 12 times their body length. The acid in their stomachs is 20 times weaker than carnivores and they have well-developed salivary glands. Their alkaline saliva contains ptyalin which helps digest grains and fruit.
THE QUESTION OF PROTEIN
You may wonder if vegetarians get enough protein in their diet without meat. This may come as a surprise to you, but meat doesn’t have the right combination of amino acids required for building protein and muscle tissue. As pointed out earlier, soya is a richer source of protein than meat.
In addition, nuts, eggs, and dairy products are rich sources of protein. Pulses and grains have protein too.
If you look at the Japanese, you’ll see that their staple diet is rice and soya. They prepare this nutritious bean in many different ways.
Lately there have been rumblings about the dangers of eating too much soya, with claims that it blocks the absorption of certain vitamins, but according to a Washington Post article entitled “Eat Your Soy, Boy,” many of the concerns regarding soya have been proven to be baseless.
The article points out that the benefits of soya include a decreased risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and prostate and colon cancer. A study conducted by the University of California has found that soya may also reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s and obesity.
Studies show that the average American consumes five times the required amount of meat, which then overtaxes the kidneys. This can lead to nephritis (a condition in which uric acid created by the digestion of protein attacks the kidneys), as well as diseases caused by mineral deficiency.
In fact, meat can even rob the body of calcium which can lead to osteoporosis. This happens because the body attempts to regain its original alkaline state by leaching calcium from the bones.
A fact few know is that the human body perceives animal protein as a “foreign protein invader,” which keeps the immune system on a constant Red Alert. The result? Meat eaters don’t have strong immune systems and are more vulnerable to bacterial and viral attack.
WHAT MAKES MEAT TOXIC TO HUMANS?
At the moment of death, the terror animals feel cause the release of strong and harmful toxic substances. After death, the cell function in their bodies ceases, the proteins in the cells congregate, and certain enzymes are released, causing the production of harmful free radicals. These toxins are not eliminated by cooking the meat.
What’s more, because meat (which includes fish and chicken) stays so long in the intestines, it begins to decay and create more poisons. Did you know that colonic therapists see traces of meat even in people who have been vegetarian for several years?
THE SPIRITUAL ADVANTAGE
Those who are interested in their spiritual growth aim to transcend their animal nature and get closer to their human nature. Eating meat inhibits this process by enhancing animal instincts.
The one with compassion will avoid killing other creatures just for the sake of his appetite. Unfortunately, we only see what is served on our plate – a piece of meat which has no resemblance to the creature from which it came.
MORE REASONS FOR GIVING UP MEAT AND FISH
1. Cut the fat from your diet. Meat has a lot of fat in it, especially saturated fat which is unhealthy. The American Dietetic Association claims that vegetarians have less chances of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other health problems.
2. Lower the chances of food poisoning. If you don’t store or cook meat in the right way, it can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which causes food poisoning.
3. Reduce your weight. If you’ve been battling with body fat, vegetarianism is the answer. Of course, you can still eat unhealthy stuff such as French fries and drink calorie-rich soft drinks like Coke, but as a non-vegetarian you could do much worse. The fact that vegetarians are less likely to be over-weight has been proven by many studies.
4. Eat more nutritiously. If you replace meat with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, you’ll certainly get more nutrients and be healthier, more energetic and fall ill less easily. Research has shown that meat eaters are prone to general fatigue caused by the stress-induced hormones in meat.
IS VEGETARIANISM PRACTICAL?
It’s easy to find vegetarian food in shops and restaurants. And the switch shouldn’t be too difficult as you probably already eat some vegetarian food, such as baked beans and roasted potatoes.
Most major manufacturers make a range of vegetarian ready-to-eat meals that you can buy off the shelf. And if you miss the taste of meat, there are many soy substitutes that taste and smell exactly like meat. These are also known as textured vegetable protein.
How to Deal with Those Who Don’t See Eye-to-Eye with Your New Diet
You’re sure to run into those who laugh at you or get defensive because they don’t have the guts to give up meat. They may tell you that humans are designed as omnivores. Some may even say that we are superior to all other creatures and, therefore, we have a right to eat them. It’s the “survival of the fittest.”
Others may give you a lecture about how egg-laying hens suffer and how milk cows are exploited. Ignore these arguments. If you were to go to such extremes, you may as well not breathe! For what happens when you accidentally step on a bug or get rid of pests in your home? Things like this are unavoidable.
Of course, vegans are admirable for they shun eggs and dairy products. But can you take that giant leap right away? Besides, vegans have to work much harder on fulfilling their requirements for protein because they’ve given up eggs.
So get your facts together and tell them that you’re doing whatever you can towards realizing your ideals of a healthy body and mind, and a better environment, too.
Avoid trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism. It could lead to heated arguments. Just set the right example and hope for the best!
DON’T FEEL GUILTY
Know that you’re making a vast and significant difference to the world and yourself by being vegetarian. And if you find you’ve just eaten something containing gelatin or some other animal by-product, don’t feel guilty. Next time you’ll be more careful.
ARE VEGETARIANS STRONG?
Absolutely! Some of the leading athletes have been vegetarian. Even the elephant is vegetarian!
Here are a few of the famous vegetarian athletes:
• Ruth Heidrich – Three-time ironman
• Debbie Lawrence – 5k record holder
• Bill Pearl – Bodybuilder
• Joe Namath – Football player
• Sally Eastall – Marathon runner
• Andreas Cahling – Mr. International Bodybuilder
• Carl Lewis – Olympic track star
• Edwin Moses – Olympic champion
• Murray Rose – Olympic swimmer
• Bill Manetti – Powerlifting champion
• Jamie Thomas – Pro skateboarder
• Anastasia Ashley – Surfer
• Martina Navratilova – Tennis player
• Bille Jean King – Tennis champion
• Stan Price – World record bench press
• Killer Kowalski – Wrestler
HOW TO DINE OUT WITHOUT RAISING EYEBROWS
Some vegetarians say that their friends have stopped asking them out to dinner. But that needn’t be the case with you. Most restaurants have at least a few vegetarian dishes on their menu. Many others will oblige if you request a vegetarian meal. What’s more, vegetarian food tends to be cheaper, so you can go in for the gourmet stuff like truffles and asparagus.
TIPS ON BECOMING (AND STAYING) VEGETARIAN
• Find your motivation. If it’s strong, like wanting to lose weight or refusing to take part in the suffering of animals, it will be easier to make the change right away and stay committed to your decision.
• If you find the change difficult, try giving up red meat first. Red meat is the unhealthiest, being full of bad fats. Then go on to giving up other meats like chicken and fish.
• Stick meticulously to your new diet. Once you make it past the first three weeks, it’ll get much easier.
• You don’t have to give up your favorite dishes. For instance, if you love your spaghetti and meatballs, try a soya meat substitute and cook it in the same way.
• Read the labels and check for animal by-products like gelatin. One label you can trust to be vegetarian is The Vegetarian Society’s.
• Look for vegetarian food in health food stores.
• If you’d like to avoid regular cheese as it contains rennet from the stomachs of slaughtered calves, look for vegetarian cheese.
• Seek out vegetarian recipes. There are tons of them online as well as in recipe books.
• If you’re going to a party or picnic, take along a vegetarian dish.
• Put together a grocery list. Shop according to the recipes you’ve gathered and buy enough for a couple of weeks, during which time, keep off restaurant food.
• Eat a balanced diet. Even with the right intentions, you may be tempted to give up if you don’t pay attention to the importance of vitamins and protein and begin to feel lethargic.
• Try some meat substitutes. There are some excellent brands, such as Quorn, Lightlife, Gardenburger, Boca, and Morning Star. Slap on some mustard and you’ll overcome your craving for meat. Highly recommended are the Quorn chicken nuggets, Gardenburger chix patties, and the Boca sausages. Whole Foods stores and supermarkets usually have these products.
• Get your quota of fresh fruit and vegetables by having blueberries with your cereal for breakfast, two apples to snack on during the day, or a handful of nuts, raw carrots and a bell pepper with lunch.
VEGETARIAN FOOD YOU SHOULD HAVE EVERYDAY
According to The Vegetarian Society, you should eat:
• 3 – 4 helpings of grains, cereals, or potatoes
• 4 – 5 helpings of vegetables and fruit
• 2 – 3 servings of pulses, nuts, and seeds
• 2 helpings of cheese, eggs, milk, or soya products
• A little bit of vegetable oil and butter or margarine
A WHOLESOME AND DELICIOUS SALAD MEAL
Salads can be wonderful with the right dressing. Chop up some cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, pineapple, apple, avocado, and steamed broccoli. Throw in some whole grain macaroni and bits of vegetarian cheddar cheese. For dressing, blend two tablespoons of healthy unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil. Season with crushed pepper and salt. This salad is actually a balanced meal!
Do yourself a big favor: Give the vegetarian lifestyle a try and nurture your body, mind, and spirit!