According to the so called Meat Atlas, which is the annual report published by Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germany, together with the Friends of the Earth Europe Group, Belgium, in 2014 about 13% of Americans claimed to be vegetarians or vegans. Such percentage may seem not very large until we compare it with the results of the American survey conducted six years earlier, in 2008, by the American VegetarianResource Group. They found out that there were approximately 3% of adult vegetarians in the US in general, or from 6 to 8 million of American people. It isn’t even necessary to make calculations in order to see how much the number of people who refused to eat animal products increased.
Certainly, each vegetarian and vegan has his or her own motivations regarding the acceptance of such a lifestyle. Researchers and dieticians have made an effort to generalize them and named a few most common reasons why people of different age choose the way of vegetarianism. Here are these reasons expressed slightly unscientifically but as clearly as possible.
1. Going vegetarian is either a kind of an alternative to a diet or a consequence of a diet. That is because vegetarianism mostly propagates a healthy lifestyle and nutritional awareness.
2. Vegetarianism is also a kind of philosophy or world outlook. Its main idea is a refusal from consuming the flesh of living creatures that have to be killed. If we turn to history, we’ll see that the original tendency takes its roots from the 7th century BC as advocacy of tolerant attitude towards livingbeings. So to some people vegetarianism is rather a moral issue and a moral choice.
3. Others are concerned that nowadays farm animals and farmed fish are treated inappropriately. These people also argue that we can’t know what such animals are fed with. So the quality of animal products seems to them quite dubious.
4. Finally, vegetarianism can be an attempt to follow the fashion or the example of one’s idols, colleagues, friends, parents (underline whatever applicable).
So What Should Be Understood as Vegetarianism?
Today it has several varieties. While some of them are more liberal to humans, others may seem to be far more radical. One very important thing to remember is that a vegetarian or vegan doesn’t consume only raw products. Raw food eating is sometimes called vitarianism. This term was invented by Johnny Lovewisdom, an American-Finnish author known for his writings about health, diet and religion. Vitarianism allows to eat raw fruit and vegetables as well as raw dairy.
- Vegans are considered to be the truest vegetarians. They usually exclude all animal products from their diet and lifestyle. They give their preference to various vegetables and fruit, nuts, cereals, beans and so on. No dairy, no eggs, no honey. Besides, they will never wear clothes or shoes made from natural animal leather or fur.
- There are vegetarians who consume dairy products. They are called lacto vegetarians in case you’re interested.
- The other group is ovo vegetarians who do eat eggs but no dairy. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can eat dairy, eggs and honey but they keep distance from meat or seafood.
- The followers of pescetarianism, in their turn, eat fish and different types of seafood.
Everything’s not that simple, is it?
Going Vegetarian: Yes or No
It’s actually up to you. Vegetarianism isn’t forbidden by law. Neither will you be expelled from your school or college if you choose to become a vegetarian. However, you should remember that it’s better to consult a good doctor before you make a final decision. Going vegetarian isn’t only about a style of life other people find beautiful to follow. First of all, it’s about your health. So be careful about and reasonable with your choice.
Advantage #1 Help with Weight Control
As the food vegetarians consume is usually low with calories even when it is cooked and not raw, it gets easier for them to control their weight. Most vegetarians look fit and slim. Vegetarianism lowers the risk of obesity.
Advantage #2 Help with Self-Control
Michael Applebaum, The President of Chicago Fitness Med Inc., states that vegetarianism can help you develop the notion of the culture of eating. This means that when you go vegetarian, you carefully choose what you eat and how much of this or that food you need to feel well enough. In this way you learn to regulate your diet as well as to control your hunger and select the proper food to satisfy it.
Advantage #3 General Health Benefits
Dieticians note that people who follow vegetarian food and life style are less exposed to the risks of heart diseases and strokes. If you have never happened to learn what these problems are, you are definitely lucky. However, you can imagine how serious a situation can turn when a person has problems with his or her heart or brain. By the way, vegetarianism is considered to provide longer life expectancy.
Disadvantage #1 Essential Nutrients Deficiency
The thing is that animal products contain some of the extremely important vitamins and minerals your organism needs to stay safe and sound for a long time and fight different diseases. Moreover, among there are those which can’t be found anywhere except for meat or dairy. For example, you can take vitamin B12 only from animal meat, milk and eggs. Plants simply don’t contain it. Consider that vitamin B12 is responsible for regulating your nervous system and brain activity.
Disadvantage #2 Lack of Good Vegetarian Menus
Dining out may become a real problem. Of course, you are quite likely to find a nice and affordable place for yourself. If your friends don’t mind it as well, then you are probably the luckiest person in the world. However, it is still difficult to find a rich and high quality vegetarian food at ordinary cafes and restaurants.
Disadvantage #3 Some General Misunderstandings
Some people believe that vegetarianism will help them solve most of their health problems. Or it adds to their style. However, it may be simply contraindicated to you because of the reasons mentioned above. You are unique so look for what is best for you personally and not for somebody else’s lifestyle.