There are as many reasons for becoming vegetarian as there are vegetarians; it's a highly personal and individual decision to make. But in a survey conducted on behalf of The Vegetarian Society, the majority of people said that they gave up meat and fish because they did not morally approve of killing animals, or because they objected to the ways in which animals are kept, treated and killed for food.
With the growing awareness of the importance of healthy food, many people are also becoming vegetarian because it matches the kind of low fat, high fibre diet recommended by dieticians and doctors.
Concern about the environment is another factor as people become more aware of the effect raising animals for their meat is having on the environment. Or you may be concerned about wasting world food resources by using land to raise animals for meat instead of growing crops that can feed more people directly.
What is a vegetarian?
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, fish, poultry or any slaughterhouse by-product such as gelatine. Vegetarians live on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit, with or without free-range eggs, milk and milk products. Vegetarians not eating anything containing dairy products or eggs are called vegans.
How will I get enough of the vital nutrients such as iron and protein?
A well-balanced vegetarian diet provides all the nutrients you need for good health. In the case of protein, it's not only found in meat. It's also present in adequate quantities in dairy products, eggs and nuts, as well as in combinations of foods such as pulses and grains. In fact it would be very difficult to design a vegetarian diet that doesn't include enough protein.
Aren't all vegetarians pale and unhealthy?
This old stereotype has taken a long time to die out. In fact, people who follow a varied, well-balanced vegetarian diet are in line with the current nutritional recommendations for a low fat, high fibre diet. That's why medical studies are proving that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from such illnesses as heart disease, cancer, diet-related diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. So, if for no other reason, go vegetarian as a favour to your body!
Healthy eating for vegetarians
A varied vegetarian diet will supply all the essential nutrients you need to help you keep fit and healthy. In fact, a vegetarian diet can offer a wide range of health benefits. Research has shown that vegetarians suffer less from obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, certain diet related cancers, diverticular disease, appendicitis, constipation and gallstones.
Vegetarianism and the environment
What we choose to eat is one of the biggest factors in the personal impact we have on the environment. A recent study, examining the impact of a typical week’s eating, showed that plant-based diets are better for the environment than those based on meat. A vegan, organic diet had the smallest environmental impact, but the single most damaging foodstuff was beef and all non-vegetarian diets required significantly greater amounts of environmental resources, such as land and water. By feeding grain and vegetables directly to people (rather than livestock) we can increase the amount of food available to everyone.
Vegetarianism - An ethical choice
The environmental arguments are strong, but many vegetarians simply believe that it is wrong to kill when there is no need to. Others love and respect animals and want to minimize their suffering. Some vegetarians are specifically opposed to intensive farming and choose vegetarianism because it sends a strong signal, guarantees you won’t be eating an animal reared in appalling conditions, and avoids the distress experienced by all animals slaughtered for their meat.read full article