As a vegetarian living in a meat worshipping home, family dinners can be challenging and somewhat hard to deal with. Making vegetarian dinners can be repetitive, and sometimes it is hard to find healthy options for protein other than tofu. Eating fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts are always healthy options; but sometimes it is hard to sit down to a family dinner while only eating salad. My personal decision to become a vegetarian was due to my moral values. Later I was pleased to find out that being a vegetarian can benefit you health wise and help the world.
Finding ways to obtain protein can be challenging as a non-meat-eating specimen. Sometimes options simply do not taste good, and others are hard to find or prepare. One option that I enjoy is eating grain-based proteins (lentil and bean based proteins). It is an easy way to enjoy protien without only having to consume tofu. Another delicious option for vegetarians and vegans is to eat tempeh, which is another soy based protein with a different texture than tofu. Tempeh can be great in sandwiches, tacos, and salads, and is a great way to have a healthy meal. Nut spreads are also provide sufficient protein for a vegan or vegetarian.
According to the Brown University of Health Education, there are many health benefits that come along with becoming a vegetarian. People who are vegetarians have a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Vegetarians also have a much lower risk of developing colorectal, ovarian and breast cancer than meat eaters are. This is because a healthy vegetarian diet typically consists of foods that are lower in fat and higher in fiber. Vegetarian meals can be simple and easy to prepare, and also provide a healthy diet that can help rid you from diseases. A vegetarian diet can be beneficial for our health, but only if we obtain the correct amount of protein, iron and calcium.
According to a study of current and former vegetarians and vegans conducted by the Humane Research Council, about 1.94% of the US population is vegetarian or vegan. The total amount of land animals killed in the US is around 6 million, and being a vegan saves roughly 200 animals lives a year while being a vegetarian saves around 150 lives. Becoming a vegetarian can benefit the lives of animals and our health, it also benefits our environment and planet.
To produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water. This is very relevant in the world today because of the national drought we are suffering from. Nearly 80% of land deforested in the Amazon is now used as cattle pasture, and in the United States, 70% of the grain grown is fed to farmed animals. Did you know that switching to a diet free of meat, dairy and eggs saves more carbon emissions than driving a Prius?
It is a well known fact that modern factory farms are not a pretty sight. Each year in factory farms, millions of animals are confined in windowless sheds that are filthy and unsanitary. The majority of these animals are are mutilated and slaughtered with no rights or advocates. Why not stand up for them? If you feel passionate about voiceless animals, becoming a vegetarian could be a beneficial and rewarding experience for you. It is very rewarding to know that you are helping animals have healthy and safe homes.
Of course, being a vegetarian is a very big decision, and it is not for everyone. For some, a meatless life is simply unimaginable. If you are completely dedicated to eating meat, perhaps try buying from cage free meat companies, and try to check to see what kind of chemicals are going into your body due to steroids that are given to livestock. I find being a vegetarian both rewarding and beneficial, and some day I hope to go vegan. If you care about the environment, healthy foods, and healthy living, becoming a vegetarian could be an amazing opportunity for you.
By Alissa Saylor