Diets are nothing new but there is more awareness today about the need to embrace a lifestyle that will be ultimately healthy and sustainable in the long term. Being vegetarian focuses on a plant-based diet with the addition in some cases of dairy products and eggs. Generally the main foods to keep a healthy balance comprise vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes, seeds and grains. It is somewhat of a myth that if you eliminate animal sources of protein, found primarily in meat, you will be unable to find sufficient amounts of protein elsewhere. Whilst protein is not necessarily consumed as conveniently in one item of food alone plenty of green vegetables, grains, soy and yeast products as well as eggs and dairy can do the job. Eating an essentially plant-based diet has all kinds of benefits so let’s delve into what some of those are.
Paying attention to your diet is crucial as it is estimated that about 70% of all diseases are related to what we eat. So does being a vegetarian help in this regard? Well it would certainly seem so. Vegetarians are less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. Eliminating harmful cholesterol from animal products and increasing antioxidants and fiber found in vegetables is a definite plus. A balanced vegetarian diet focuses on fresh non-processed food and healthy fats from such sources as nuts and cold pressed oils. This alone will contribute to less weight gain and lead to a more healthy, energized body. Reducing cholesterol and weight will help to contribute to a longer life as evidenced by the people of Japan whose diet significantly contributes to their longevity.
Eating fibrous foods such as vegetables will also aid digestion and keep the body regular. Enzymes, also vital for a balanced digestive system, found in raw or fermented vegetables will greatly assist overall health and eliminate many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with eating an overly processed diet. Generally overall good health can be achieved with a sensible vegetarian diet as it is no coincidence that many food borne illnesses are primarily associated with foods rich in protein, such as meat. Additionally it has been noted that eating certain fruits and vegetables, on a regular basis, can assist with the symptoms of menopause because they contain phytoestrogens which are chemical compounds found in plants that mimic the estrogen of the body.
Naturally for most people a healthy diet and increasingly good health prospects are some of the most significant reasons to become vegetarian. However it is equally noteworthy that following an essentially plant-based diet has a real impact on other areas of life. With an ever increasing awareness of global problems it is key to note that the meat industry has a severe impact on the environment. The animal and chemical waste run off pollutes rivers and in addition the gases produced by the huge numbers of cattle required to satisfy a world market, is grossly affecting our atmosphere.
Additionally toxic chemicals, steroids and antibiotics frequently enter the food chain via meat and fish and thus eating an organic, vegetarian diet can help to avoid these things contaminating our food source. It may also be significant for some people that animal cruelty is an issue associated with raising vast numbers of animals. They are frequently in cramped and inhumane conditions, which in itself contributes to poor health among the animals, which is been passed along to the consumer. Also significant is the fact that vast amounts of grain is produced specifically to feed these huge numbers of cattle and livestock, when it could more healthfully and profitably be used to feed people all around the world. Food for thought indeed!