Can vegetarianism help your health and the environment?

March 13, 2013 1:34 pm
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As Ghandi, one of history’s greatest heroes once said “to my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.”

I’m often asked if it is difficult to be a vegetarian or for what reasons I become one ,many people assume that being vegetarian is simply avoiding meat products, being vegetarian means much more than that ,just to be clear what does it mean to be a true vegetarian, the goods, and the impacts it has globally?

As many of you may be wondering… what is a vegetarian? Well, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat. There are many types of vegetarians, including vegans, who do not eat meat, dairy, or eggs. Many people become vegetarian or vegan because of health reasons. Being a vegetarian has been known to prevent heart-attacks, diabetes, and many other fatal diseases. Some people are also vegetarians because of religious or cultural beliefs. For instance the people who follow the Hindu religion do not eat meat because they believe in karma, and that you will comeback as an animal in your next life, as a source of punishment. In India, most people eat very little, or no meat and as a result of this, they make up 70% of the world’s vegetarians. Another reason for vegetarianism is compassion for the animals. I’m a vegetarian, because when my grandma was 17 she became very ill. She went to a doctor, and the doctor put her on a vegetarian diet, sure enough she got better. My mom is also a vegetarian, and I am the 4th generation of vegetarians in my family. To me being a vegetarian means living life without guilt. Often when I tell people that I am vegetarian they say “oh I don’t eat that much meat” or “I eat mostly veggies” or even “I only eat fish and chicken”. Every time I hear people say this, I can tell people are slightly guilty, but yet for the practical reasons they continue to eat meat. When I see kids at the petting zoo, petting the baby lambs and chickadees, they seem so affectionate, yet at the same time they crave to eat them, it seems so opposite to me.

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Many of you also might wonder what impact vegetarianism had on the environment. The fact is eating meat has some serious impacts on the environment. For instance, it takes a lot of grain to feed the cattle that will go for slaughter. To make 1 kilogram of beef it takes 50,000-100,000L of water to grow the food, yet while all that food and water is going towards the cattle, 15 million children, and millions of adults die per year of starvation. Meat isn’t as healthy as we think it is either. This is no longer the meat that our parents used to eat, because the animals are fed pesticides, growth hormones, and even GMOs making it an unsafe choice. What you may not know is that, GMOs can be dangerous to human’s health. GMOs have been linked to cancer, autism, a.d.h.d, childhood obesity, just to name a few. Another huge problem is the pollution that comes from the factory farms and slaughter houses.

So I know this is starting to sound depressing, so I brought some fun facts along. Did you know that the first ever Ronald McDonald hired was vegetarian? Also did you know that many famous celebrities and icons are vegetarians, including, Paul and Stella McCartney, Tom Cruise, Rachel McAdams, Demi Lovato, Steve Martin, Carrie Underwood, Lea Michele, Ellen DeGeneres, even Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, and Abraham Lincoln. Did you know that every vegetarian spares the lives of 1000s of innocent animals per year, and they also spare the many lives of those who starve per year? Did you know that Michael J Fox has been following a Non GMO diet, and is now on his way to recuperation from Parkinson’s? and going  back to work?

So now it’s up to you. Will you take the challenge, and join me and many others, or will you continue to ignore the unheard voices of the tortured animals? Just think the meat you eat today was walking yesterday. Next time you go to eat meat be sure to ask if it’s really worth all the pain and suffering. I’m proud of being a vegetarian, protecting the environment, and speaking for those innocent creatures who cannot speak for themselves. After all, as George Bernard Shaw once said “Animals are my friends-and I don’t eat my friends.”

– Rachel Parent

This article is also posted on The Canadian Daily website.