Many cultures and peoples from all around the world differ in one major aspect: food. Food is different everywhere you go, and each culture has its own unique cuisines to offer. One dominant culture in Asia is the Buddhist culture, and one of its defining characteristics is the strong presence of vegetarian habits in its followers’ diets. Although it is a controversial topic, many believe that being vegetarian is a must if you want to be a Buddhist; however, obviously, not all vegetarians are Buddhists, and actually, there exists a large vegetarian community outside of Buddhism.
But why do they do so? Why do vegetarians deprive themselves of glorious, delicious meat? Well, vegetarians corroborate their decision with a multitude of reasons, including health concerns and morals; also, they believe that vegetarianism is self-sustained. Let’s take a look at each of these arguments.
First come health concerns. Many vegetarians state that going vegetarian translates to lower disease rates and a longer, healthier life.These claims are thoroughly supported by plenty of research papers. For example, the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (http://www.pcrm.org) has a list of six tips to reduce the occurrence of cancer, and three of the items in that list are synonymous with being vegetarian. These three tips are to: “
- Avoid red and processed meat to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
- Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several forms of cancer.”
That’s some pretty strong evidence, but there’s more. According to an article by the PCRM reporting on a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine (which can be found here), vegetarians are 22% less likely to contract colorectal cancer as compared to non-vegetarians. Similar studies have been done on heart disease and a multitude of other diseases, and the numbers are clear. Vegetarians have a lower chance of developing several diseases, and that’s a fact. Some refute this by saying that certain vitamins and chemicals essential to the body’s activity are found only in meat products; there has been no solid proof of this. Any nutrient found in animals is also found in plants.
Secondly, some vegetarians make their decision on moral grounds.This is an incredibly strong reason, since it is absolutely evident that the inhumane and torturous conditions in which animals are bred, fed, and killed to maximize profits in a capitalistic market are completely unjustified. Vegetarians boycott this industry, and if there were more vegetarians, perhaps changes would be made. However, as it is, vegetarians have still made a dent in meat companies’ profits, pushing companies to adopt more humane systems. Furthermore, even non-vegetarians boycott meat companies and either refrain from eating meat altogether or choose to buy from local producers. If nothing else,, it makes sense to boycott the meat industry; it really is that bad. All you have to do is search “animal slaughter in factory” or something along those lines, and you will be SHOCKED. I do not have the heart to link you any such videos, but if you are a loving, considerate human, take the time to see what goes on behind the scenes at slaughterhouses. Ask yourself if anything can justify that.
Lastly is not a fitting word to use here, as it gives the impression that this is the last reason as to why you should consider being a vegetarian. There are many more; however, for the purposes of this article, three will suffice. So, the last argument that’ll be covered in this article is that of sustainability. The world has an energy problem, being over-dependent on finite resources like fossil fuels, and the same can be said for food. If we eat meat, we need to feed the animals our meat comes from. This introduces the problem of scale: a lot of plant-based food, which we humans can eat ourselves, is used to feed animals such as cows, only to give us a small portion of the food that we had in the form of plants. Many argue that if everyone were vegetarian, world hunger wouldn’t be a problem. That is quite simply amazing. Furthermore, Scientific American has reported that an astonishing 70% of antibiotics produced are used on animals. Does that sound, at the very least, even a little odd to you?
All in all, although the transition may not be easy, it is one that you must consider. The sacrifice that you make is miniscule compared to the animals’ and humans’ lives that you’ll be saving.
“Cancer Resources”. The Physicians Committee. N.p., 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
“Vegetarian Diet Protects Against Colorectal Cancer”. The Physicians Committee. N.p., 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Leutwyler, Kristin. “Most U.S. Antibiotics Fed To Healthy Livestock”. Scientific American. N.p., 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.