Vegetarian diet offers healthier lifestyle

Six years ago, I became a vegetarian for purely ethical reasons. I had never heard of any other reason for becoming a vegetarian. Over the years, however, I have discovered the  many health benefits that come with vegetarianism, and I have met people who gave up meat and other animal products solely to improve their health. While I maintain the same morals that pushed me to stop consuming meat in the first place, I also believe the health benefits are a strong enough reason for anyone to become a vegetarian. According to a survey conducted in 2012 by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about vegetarianism, health and ecology, an estimated nine million Americans follow a vegetarian diet. Half those vegetarians cited health  outcomes as one of the primary reasons for changing their diet.

In 2011, the New York Times stated that saturated fats should never make up more than 10 percent of daily calories, and foods containing saturated fats should be avoided. Abnormal levels of fats in the bloodstream may lead to a number of potentially fatal heart and blood diseases.

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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. However, vegetarians with cardiovascular disease have a lower mortality rate than non-vegetarians with the same disease, stated The Vegetarian Times, a magazine which promotes health, well-being, an eco-friendly lifestyle and a vegetarian diet, stated that. Animal fats, which are saturated fats, are found in all animal products, including dairy, eggs and meat. A vegetarian diet also contains less cholesterol. Because of this, vegetarians are less likely to contract coronary diseases. People who ingest a lot of animal fats are more prone to obesity and high blood pressure as a result of the high caloric content of the fats they consume. In contrast, a plant-based diet contains fewer calories and saturated fats.

Vegetarians also consume more fiber, produce and vitamins than non-vegetarians. The Vegetarian Times said that due to this diet, vegetarians generally have stronger bones than non-vegetarians. When one doesn’t have sufficient levels of calcium in their bloodstream, the body will absorb calcium from  bones, causing bones to become weaker over time. Dairy products and fish are some of the largest and healthiest sources of calcium, but they still contain a high concentration of saturated fats. Vegetarian sources of calcium without a high fat content include kale, tofu and soymilk.

The desire to be healthy is an excellent reason to make changes in your eating habits, even if it is not possible to completely give up meat and animal products.

Since I gave up meat, I have felt healthier and more energetic. I am more aware of what foods I should be eating and the right amount of nutrients I need to stay healthy.

While becoming a vegetarian does not guarantee perfect health, it can reduce the risk of certain diseases and improve one’s overall health.

Molly Daniels Columnist

Contact Molly Daniels at mdaniels16@my.whitworth.edu

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