Thursday, February 10, 2005

Vegetarianism

I used to ridicule non-meat eaters mercilessly in my younger days. Why, I thought, would one want to sacrifice something as great as meat simply for the sake of some non-rational animal? In retrospect, my ignorance is somewhat appalling.

While there are an abundance of arguments for vegetarianism based on animal rights (and these argument shall be discussed later), the clearest reason that one might change one's diet is simply for the radical health benefits associated with alternative diets. Meat eating has been linked to stroke, type II diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers, gallstones, hypertension, constipation, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, and obesity (obviously). Sure, the evidence ranges from conclusive to only partial suggestive depending on the accusations being made of meat, but the evidence exists. Furthermore, meat is perhaps the greatest carrier of food bourne illness.

The cholesterol and saturated fat (the bad type of fat) is something that even the rather corrupt Food and Drug Administration has been warning against for years. There is nothing in meat, besides perhaps the abundance of protein and iron, of which the FDA would praise meat for being a good source.

Heart patients who switch to vegetarian diets find a drastic reduction in heart problems and attacks. In fact, the only successful doctors in reversing heart disease relied heavily on a meat free diet in their patients.

Simply given the evidence that meat eating is so likely to cause health problems, though, is not enough to prove that one should stop eating it. Meat, as believed by most people, is absolutely necessary to a healthy, balanced diet. This, quite frankly, is wrong. Animal flesh is no more necessary to ones health than is Coke (both the drug and the drink, for that matter). There is no nutrient that we are unable to get from a plant source, and the plant source is usually more bio-available.

Personally, the choice to not eat meat is a simple one, as meat was never too appealing in the first place. It only takes a few minutes of contemplation and reflection on your hamburger's former life as a living, breathing, walking, and mooing cow before you start to become uneasy wit the situation. And for me, at least, there are few things less appealing than bleeding slabs of flesh, like the ones hanging in butcher's shops.

I plan on explaining some other viable arguments against meat eating in the future, but it seems that the point is made well enough in recognizing that in our own best interest we should stop eating animals.

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