Youth Voices: Vegetarians support the planet, animals and health

By Sweta Patel

 

Mcdonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Five Guys. Let’s face it, people are addicted to fast food because it is cheaper, faster and requires no preparation. These fast food chains may sound good but have a lasting negative effect on your body due to the high cholesterol impact. A Mcdonald’s Big Mac has 563 calories, 33 grams of fat and 79 milligrams of cholesterol. A Wendy’s Caramel Frosty shake is 1,000 calories. A simple way to say no to these fat-laden, artery-clogging junk foods is by converting to vegetarianism. By cutting out meat from your diet, you are also cutting out heart disease, obesity and diabetes. A study from Loma Linda University states that vegetarians live 20 percent longer than omnivores. So why not add a few years to your lifespan?

More than a third of Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Are our bodies not worth the time and effort to keep them pure? Vegetarian meals require you to think about what is going into your food. According to a study published in Nutrients magazine, a plant-based diet increases the body’s metabolism, causing the body to burn calories up to 16 percent faster than the body would on a meat-based diet for at least the first three hours after meals. If Americans turned to a vegetarian diet, we could significantly reduce obesity.

Another side effect of eating meat is that we are destroying our earth. In 2006, the United Nations said raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all cars and trucks combined. If the consumption of meat is completely stopped or reduced, the production of meat would also decrease. Methane causes most global warming and the human impact on livestock causes more than a third of methane production. What is on our plates affects our earth. The simplest, easiest and cheapest way to reverse the damage we’ve inflicted on our planet is by eating less meat.

According to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks ninth for obesity. Based on data from the Loma Linda University health study, the average body mass index (BMI) was lowest amongst vegans, while average BMI was highest among meat eaters. Is America doomed to remain in the top 10 most obese countries?

The No. 1 reason why people do not go vegetarian is because a vegetarian diet is low in protein, B12 and iron. However, vegetarians consume more fiber potassium and vitamin C. Dairy products contain B12 vitamins. Iron comes from beans, green vegetables and dried fruits, while protein comes from soy foods, beans and nuts.

“Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating,” wrote Harvard Medical School on its “Becoming a vegetarian” website.

As the number of vegetarians increase in America, so does the overall health of the nation. At least 3.4 percent or 7.3 million Americans are now vegetarian. “The vegetarian sector is one of the fastest-growing categories in food publishing,” said Elizabeth Turner, editor in chief of the Vegetarian Times magazine. “It’s a dedicated group of consumers that is growing daily.”

Slowly but surely the number of vegetarians are growing, allowing for a much more lively, fit and flourishing future.

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