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Vegetarians are people who do not eat meat, poultry, fish, and other animal byproducts. Vegetarians are classified into three main categories. These are the vegans, the lacto vegetarians, and the Lacto-ovo vegetarians.
The lacto vegetarians take plant products and dairy products while the Lacto-ovo vegetarians take plant products, eggs, and dairy products, and the vegans exclude all animal products in their diet. Thus a vegetarian diet is mainly composed of plant products which include beans, peas, grains, lentils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and the like. Vegetarians can get the required nutrients if they ensure that their diets have a variety of foods (Collins 1).
Most people who become vegetarians do so to become healthier and lower their chances of catching diseases. Others become vegetarians due to the cost involved in rearing animals or due to environmental concerns. Others are forced by financial limitation to be vegetarians since they cannot afford meat and others dispute the mistreatment and killing of animals.
There are also some people who become vegetarians due to their religions. Whatever the motivation, vegetarianism has a lot of benefits on the lives of the people who practice it. Let us have a look at the interrelationship of vegetarianism with health, religion, and economy (“Vegetarianism’s benefits” 1).
Vegetarianism and health
When vegetarian diets are planned well, they supply the nutrients that are required for healthy living. Thus most people who choose vegetarianism are enticed by the numerous health benefits that are associated with it. These include the reduction of the chances to get diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, etc. Therefore, health complications and risks have made the vegetarian community grow (Flynt 1).
The greatest of the stated vegetarian health benefits is the reduction of the chances of getting heart problems. This is because the cholesterol levels of vegetarians are lower than those of non-vegetarians. The above fact can be explained by the higher amounts of saturated fats in meat than in vegetables.
Moreover, cholesterol accumulates in blood vessels leading to heart problems and strokes. On the other hand, the components of fruits and vegetables like folic acid, potassium, etc. enables them to reduce the chances of getting myocardial infarction and other complications. The soluble fiber in some vegetarian diets like carrots is known to reduce serum cholesterol. Lastly, flavonoids present in vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. limit the chances of cardiovascular disease (“Vegetarianism’s benefits” 1).
Even though diabetes is still incurable, vegetarianism characterized by complex carbohydrate and fiber intake checks diabetes. This fact has been proven, and patients are normally advised by their doctors to take vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes to check their blood sugar levels (Dworkin 1).
The fact that vegetarian diets prevent the occurrence of cancer is also a big plus to the practice of vegetarianism since cancer is incurable. The occurrence of cancers, especially epithelial, is normally checked by the consistent balancing of vegetarian diets, especially the proportion of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Chemicals like flavonoids, ellagic acid, etc. found in vegetarian diets protect people from cancer (Dworkin 1).
Apart from the explained contributions to health, vegetarian diets are also instrumental in checking blood pressure, aiding digestion, removal of body toxins and betterment of overall health. Vegetarianism also prevents other disorders like obesity, osteoporosis etc (“Vegetarianism’s benefits” 1).
Vegetarianism and religion
As stated earlier, some people become vegetarians due to their religious beliefs. Vegetarian Christians argue that eating meat is both unchristian and immoral. Even the bible states in Corinthians 6:13 that both the “meat” and the “belly” shall be destroyed. Therefore, although religious vegetarianism is not that common among Christians, a number of Christians promote it for religious reasons. Vegetarianism is an integral part of religions whose origin is ancient India.
These include Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. In Buddhism, authorities, and scriptures advocate for vegetarianism while, it is compulsory for people in Jainism. The same is true with Hinduism. Additionally, Hindus avoid beef because cows are sacred in their religion. Thus beef consumption is unpopular among Hindus.
The relationship between nonviolence and spirituality expressed in Hinduism scriptures also discourages meat consumption and thus encourages vegetarianism. Their beliefs of reincarnation and karma are also contributors to Hindu vegetarianism (Karen 1).
Other examples of religions that support vegetarianism are Chinese Taoism and Judaism. For the Chinese Taoists, nature is sacred and therefore, they are not supposed to destroy nature. This acts as advocacy for vegetarianism. On the other hand, the Torah, scripture of Judaists, has evidence that supports the practice of vegetarianism. For instance, in Genesis 1: 29 – 30, all creatures were commanded to be eating plants.
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Judaism also prohibits the mistreatment of animals. The Judaists are supposed to reduce the burdens of overloaded animals and allow the animals to rest on Sabbath. This consideration of animal rights has also had a substantial contribution to vegetarianism among the Judaists (Karen 1).
Economics of vegetarianism
Professional critics of vegetarianism argue that if a person becomes vegetarian, the contribution the person will make is that he will reduce the demand for meat. Arguing from an economist’s point of view, the price of meat will reduce leading to more meat consumption. With this argument, meat consumption is not affected by vegetarianism. However, this argument is based on the assumption that meat consumption depends entirely on demand and supply (Collins 1).
Non-vegetarian diets are, arguably, uneconomical. Considering land as a factor of production, one ton of beef will be produced in a piece of land that has the potential of producing more than ten tons of nutritious vegetables. Additionally, only 4-16 % of the food consumed by cattle will be converted to flesh foods. Flesh products are also more expensive to buy than plant products. This is partly due to the fact that a significant percentage of their composition is water.
Also notable in this section is the fact that, due to the high cost of meat in some regions, people are forced to be vegetarians. In these regions, vegetarianism is exercised through the choice of cheaper food like beans, nuts, etc. over meat. Animal products, specifically beef, are consumed occasionally to check the cost of food. The high cost of meat can be explained by the lengthy process involved in the production and processing of meat.
Consumption of meat can, thus, be viewed to have triple cost effects on the consumer. Therefore the consumer pays for the production of the meat, he/she pays for the cost incurred in cleaning the environment in which the meat was produced and he/she pays the costs that are brought about by meat-related health problems. The rearing of animals for meat also leads to environmental degradation that may have adverse effects on the economic lives of people (“Vegetarianism’s benefits” 1).
Given the health benefits of vegetarianism like prevention of heart problems, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc. vegetarianism should be more popular than it is today. This is because most of the stated health complications that are prevented by vegetarianism are incurable. The effects of animal products on human health should make non-vegetarians to closely monitor their diets or better still, become vegetarians. Apart from the health benefits of vegetarianism, it also has economic benefits.
These include the fact that vegetarian food is relatively cheap, the vegetarian food also cuts down medical costs by preventing diseases and it arguably, conserves the environment. Vegetarianism has also been instrumental in the discovery of new, cheap and healthy meals thus alleviating starvation.
The relationship between vegetarianism and religion is indubitable. A lot of religious scriptures have ideas supporting vegetarianism. Examples of religions that support vegetarianism have been stated as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Jainism and the Chinese Taoism. Therefore, the spiritual requirements of these religions attract a myriad of followers to vegetarianism. These followers, in turn, enjoy the valuable benefits of vegetarianism.
The practice of vegetarianism should be carried out with great care. Vegetarians should make sure that they balance their diets to obtain all the required nutrients. Care must be taken to ensure the consumption of foodstuffs containing enough amounts of proteins, iron, vitamins, fats, etc. Conclusively, the motivation of vegetarianism should be the health benefits that are associated with it. In this perspective, many people will be drawn to vegetarianism and it will positively impact their lives.
Collins, Anne. “Health Benefits of Vegetarianism.” 2007. Web.
Dwokin, Norine. “22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now.” 1999. Web.
Flynt, Cheryl. “Vegetarianism.” 2010. Web.
Karren, Louis. “Vegetarianism and Religion.” 2009. Web.
The Christian Vegetarian Association. “Vegetarianism’s Benefits.” 2005. Web.