Vegetarianism...Vegetables...NASTY!

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Vegetarianism, a very simple idea yet so hard for people in America to grasp. Vegetarianism first originated in India. The primary reason for vegetarianism in India was to promote Ahimsa. Ahimsa simply means non-violence. Later on, vegetarianism spread across the world, particularly to America. It became well known in America because it followed the whole "going green" initiative. Recently, The Telegraph came out with an article which stated that adopting a vegetarian diet based around meat substitutes such as tofu can actually cause more harm to the environment. Reading this your probably wondering why would anyone be a vegetarian? On the contrary, athletes, especially runners love the idea of vegetarianism. In a recent article by Clint Chepra, he states that in the sport of ultra-running, a plant based nutrition has more benefits compared to a carnivorous diet. Another argument that many times comes up is meat is the primary source of protein. In a study done by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they concluded that the vegetarian diet did not have adverse effects on bone loss.

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Overall all these articles have valid claims and are mostly accurate. What makes them accurate is the research and studies which have gone on behind the scenes. For example, in the bone loss study, they did research on 200 females over the course of 2 years to ensure that they got unbiased data. For the ultra-running claim, Mr. Chepra went through many different exercises to come up with his findings

In conclusion, research shows that the pros outweigh the cons for vegetarianism. Though tofu may harm the environment there is more than just tofu to vegetarianism. In fact there are more than vegetables to vegetarianism! Of course you don't have to take my word for it. Let the research speak for itself!

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As someone who was a vegetarian for a year, I can say from personal experience that there are healthy ways of being a vegetarian, and it can be a very beneficial thing. While meat is a primary source of protein, it's not the only source of protein. Other than soy products, foods such as beans and greek yogurt also contain relatively high amounts of protein. For example one cup of black beans contains 15.2 grams of protein, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html), women between the ages of 92-70+ require 46 grams of protein each day and men between the ages of 19-70+ require 56 grams of protein each day. That means one cup of black beans contains 33% of a women's daily requirement of protein.Of course if someone chooses to become a vegetarian on a whim or force it upon another with on a lot of consideration and research to make sure needs are met, there will be consequences in regard to health.

This is a very interesting blog,and the articles you found helped add weight to the argument. I personally enjoy the taste of meat which is something I that feel the substitutes such as tofu lack. I wonder if there is any coloration between vegetarianism and the Hindu religion, due to the fact that many animals especially the cow are deemed sacred. I think that advances will be made in enhancing the flavor of non-animal products. I also think that this could be an interesting point to discuss in the Nature vs Nurture debate, by looking at children who have vegetarian upbringing.

As the article suggested, I also think that there is not much nutritional difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. There are some ways to get proteins such as eating beans. Also, it might be more beneficial to an individual because he/she has more chance to absorb necessary vitamins and mineral. However, I don't want to be vegetarian because I can't live without steak and Buffalo Wild Wings. I think that being vegetarian is like having a belief like having religion.

Two veg blogs in a row! HIGH FIVE!

I would like to point out that the study mentioned in the Telegraph article was geographically limited to the UK, so the results don't necessarily apply to a place like Minnesota, where soybeans are commonplace. Also, the article only addressed a limited number of meat substitutes that are not necessarily even every day foods for the average vegetarian. Personally, I eat tofu maybe twice a week, as it is only delicious in the right sauce and I am not an accomplished cook. Also, the article seemed to spend little time on greenhouse emissions and focus on a need for more land to farm, as well as destruction of forests. Greenhouse gases affect both of these, nowhere more evident than in the Horn of Africa. The recent famines and lack of arable land in northern Kenya and Southern Somalia, at least according one environmental economist at the University of Nairobi, is at least partially due to changing temperatures.

This is the address - http://vegetarian.procon.org/sourcefiles/the_greenhouse_hamburger.pdf - (sorry don't know how to hyperlink here) to a 2009 article in Scientific American published addressing the amounts of greenhouse gas produced in the farming processes or as a result of farming various foods, but beef especially as it is the major culprit. Surprisingly, the largest hit comes from the loss of trees and plants on land where feed for beef is grown. I did not read the study as there was no link and thus there is no way to know if the author misinterpreted the results, but I find it very hard to believe that the numbers add up. While I'm not exactly certain what the processing of tofu, textured plant protein, fake cheese, and other products designed to imitate dead animal flesh entails, they are all made from plants and thus don't have to be fed nearly as much as a cow (sometimes cows are even fed to cows!?). Seeing how beef production come in at 57 times the amount of CO2 as potatoes, 40% of which is loss of land related, and that there aren't many vegetarians that eat the same quantity of highly processed meat substitutes as often as their beef eating counterparts consume a burger, this seems a misguided choice of product along with randomly chosen imported veggies like lentils and chickpeas (which are delicious and extremely rich in nutrients BTW) for assessing the environmental merit of "the vegetarian diet" as a whole. Also at issue is the claim that an increase in vegetarianism would somehow move beef production overseas - how would people eating less meat move meat production overseas? Wouldn't there just be less meat production? With less animals to constantly feed, we'd need to grow a lot less food for the same amount of people, but with a rapidly expanding population, this could end up being necessary. Again, as I did not see the original article, I don't have the explanation given. If anyone could shed some light on this, as I suppose it could involve some complicated economics that I don't yet understand, an explanation would be highly appreciated. It just seems counterintuitive.

I realize the article gave time to dissenting views pointing out some of the things I have, but I felt compelled to comment as the title of the article and original caption seem to favor the claim that based on not-quite-so-commonly consumed imported and highly processed foods alone, and possibly leaving out greenhouse gas emissions, and geographically limited to the UK (which is not really a good example for the farming conditions for the rest of the world) are used to make a sweeping claim that vegetarianism does more harm than meat production to the environment.

Glad to see a fellow veggie enthusiast on here!
I'd also love to see a study about children brought up in vegetarian households. We have plenty of horror stats and info about childhood obesity rates and type II diabetes but I'd love to see a comparison of sorts. I'm going to refrain from posting a bunch of stuff here on health (must. resist. urge. to. ramble. forever.), but I'd just like to say that the health benefits of ANY diet, vegetarian or not depends largely on planning of nutrient intake and ability to consume the correct amount for your own body. Protein is easy to get, to eat enough calories and be deficient in protein you'd have to be eating most of your diet in candy or something. The things you need to focus on are mostly B12, Iron (absorption can be tricky) and a few others, but as long as you eat a varied diet it should be fine. Consulting a professional nutritionist (and not some raw food homeopathic quack!) is usually a good idea.

I used to go to Buffalo Wild Wings twice a week (on the half price days for tenders and boneless) but one day about a year and 3 months ago I cooked 10 strips of bacon for breakfast one morning, after eating them randomly stumbled upon an internet video of the entire process of pig, chicken, beef, and dairy and egg factory farming, and gave it all up on the spot and haven't looked back since. (although I spent 5 months Kenya, food label laws and fortified cereal and soy milk aren't exactly things like in the US, so I tried my best there) To be honest my taste buds changed over time, as I also stopped drinking pop and ate less sugary foods, so now many things that I used to not choose are just as delicious as the BWW tenders with asian zing and ranch I used to eat in massive quantities. I also lost 40 lbs in 2 months and stabilized at a healthy weight.

To be honest, it felt more like losing a religion, because of the incredible cognitive dissonance and stress associated with a dramatic change in personal beliefs and psychology. My understanding of humans and their brain function, society, myself, and the physical world around me all changed dramatically in a very short period of time. Many people who lose or change their religion struggle with having to acknowledge that they now consider their past beliefs to have been wrong. I felt this, having to admit to myself that I was not in fact as smart as I thought and that my professed fondness for my fellow Earthlings only extended to those in the public eye, for which I would be noticed in my social circles as a kind person. I don't think animals are sacred or anything, it's more of a personal philosophy based off of the last two centuries of scientific discovery. (Especially the fact that we humans are animals ourselves)

Longest comment ever? If anyone has read this far, kudos.

I'm so glad someone wrote about this! The articles were really helpful too and helped with your argument. Vegetarianism is a choice, and yes, you do have to exclude meat, but you can get your protein other ways like eggs or dairy products. I find it sort of ironic that tofu may harm the environment but some people choose to be a vegetarian to help the animals in the environment.

I left a super long comment on here last night, I'm assuming it was too long to be let on the page? Whoops.

It is very hard to have a protein deficiency unless your diet does not include enough calories. You'd basically have to be eating more than half your diet in candy to have a protein deficiency. Plants are high in protein. The things one has to make sure one is getting enough of are B12, amino acids and that iron is absorbing properly. These are easy to get in vegetables for most people as long as you have the initiative to get them.

Also, the article written in The Telegraph only seemed to address products that cannot be grown in the geographically limited area of the UK. In Minnesota, soy beans are quite common. Also, vegetarians don't necessarily eat a high amount of tofu or meat substitutes when compared to an average (especially American and Argentinian) meat eater's intake of meat (especially beef, which is quite harmful to the environment when we take into account greenhouse gas emissions). Here is the address of a 2009 article in Scientific American that compares the environmental impact of consuming various foods.

http://vegetarian.procon.org/sourcefiles/the_greenhouse_hamburger.pdf

I listed many other concerns in the other comment I left, but since it didn't get published I'll have to leave them out I guess.

I'm also glad someone is talking about vegetarianism. One of the biggest deficiencies that vegetarians suffer from is, like corr0201 stated, is B12, amino acids, and iron. As a former vegetarian I can tell you it is very hard to get the proper nutrition without being willing to spend extra money on the good food that is full of iron or buy vitamins.

Another fun fact to look at when talking about the environmental aspects of vegetarianism is the use of water to produce 1 lb of red meat. Over all you save more water by not eating 1 lb of red meat than you would by not showering for a year. Yes this includes the whole animal and the water it took to nurture that animal as well as the processing. But in a country that has very little safe drinking water in some locations, it's interesting to think about.

Interesting post. I have several vegetarian friends that are way to judgmental on people who enjoy meat. Now I can tell them that their tofu is harming the environment as well! I believe that animals are meant to be eaten. I hear a lot of very inhumane ways animals can be treated in the manufacturing of some meat products, which I do not agree with. Animals are delicious, but should only be slaughtered in humane ways. "Slaughtering" and "humane" do not look like they belong in a sentence together, but I assure you, they do. It is inhumane to deprive human beings of enjoying delicious meat, which vegetarians have been trying to do to me for years.

Tell us a little more about some of the benefits of plant based foods for runners. Are there any other cons to vegetarianism?

I agree with your article, mostly. The only point that I disagree with is "Americans cannot grasp the concept". I believe that most Americans that I know are very aware of meat consumption is high in cholesterol and isn't very good for you, but the bigger problem is the OVER consumption of meat. Americans grew up with the concept of "bigger is better" and can't control their eating habits. Whereas vegetarians can eat more vegetables and it won't be very bad for their health. There is a balance issue, and people cannot change their eating habits easily.

Like the commenter before me, I also think that american's can grasp vegetarianism. I, myself, was a vegetarian for nearly ten years before I started eating some meat again for the convenience of meat as a protein source. Additionally, the vegetarianism movement in America did not rise from the recent "going green" craze, though it has gained momentum in recent years. Statistically most people choose this lifestyle as a path to avoid the over indulgence that runs rampant in our culture.

I do not think that American need to grasp the idea of vegetarianism. Athletes should definitely not be grasping this idea it is not safe because you do not get the nutrients your body needs.Some people disagree with eating meat because they see the few videos of animals being treated in inhumane ways. I grew up on a dairy farm where we raised cattle and I can tell you that the the majority of farmers treat their animals with care. The saying "One bad apple spoils the bunch" fits perfectly here. If people were to become vegetarians where would they get the necessary nutrients that they need in their everyday lives?

Good choice for a blog post, although it defiantly proposes some controversy on weather or not vegetarianism is the way to go. I have been in situations where friends are vegetarians because they think its inhumane to kill innocent animals (they are non-violence believers), but I never really understand this idea. In fact, it may sometimes be more humane to kill certain species of animals because they are overpopulated and cannot find their own food sources. This example is very apparent in Minnesota with deers. Many deers are killed by cars, causing deaths to both the animal and even people. Other deers die of starvation or predators. Therefore deer hunting season acts to decrease these unfortunate incidents. I also think it is extremely important to have the nutrients from meats and also bacteria from animal meats allows our body to build a better immune system.

I addressed this earlier in another blog post. "Humans have a the digestive system of carnivores. We do not digest cell wall. Our relative, gorillas have the bacterias that help them to digest cell wall. Cows have 4 stomachs to digest plants. It would be a great waste of energy for human to consume ONLY plants. In a way, we are making nature worse off by choosing vegetarianism." It is true, as carnivores, humans consume way too much meat. If we consume meet, there is no need for 3 meals a day, and no way we should eat as much as we can. When you look at lions, they don't eat 3 meals a day, and they sometimes go a week without food. But when you look at cows or gorillas, they eat all the time. If you as a human decide to eat all the time, then meat should most definitely not be your choice of food. But if you decide to eat a small amount of meat each meal with a large verities of other food, then you're okay.

This is a very interesting topic, and I enjoyed the articles you attached! Although I am not a vegetarian (I could never live without chicken lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang's!) I agree with a lot of the arguments in favor of vegetarianism. I think that as long as people are maintaining a healthy diet with all of the recommended daily nutrients, it shouldn't matter whether they are getting their protein from chicken or from nuts or beans.

I personally dislike the vegetarianism just because I like meat so much, but I don't understand why would people avoid eating meat when it is such a natural behavior. top level consumers which include humans consume all other levels. it is the NATURE. but I do understand some people become vegetarians because the meat we consume these days have so much chemicals in them. It would be healthier to avoid meat at all.

To be honest I could never be a vegetarian because I like meat too much, but I do have a good friend who is one. Judging by his diet, I wish I could get into it. He is much healthier than me, and has never had problems with things like lack of protein. All he does is get it from things like peanut butter. I never knew the origin of vegetarianism, so I found it interesting that you included that.

The same as with anything else, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to go about being a vegetarian. It's not difficult to get all the right nutrients without eating meat as long as you're eating the right replacement foods, such as nuts, beans, eggs, or legumes, which all generally have a good amount of protein. I personally don't think I could be a vegetarian because I love eating poultry, but it is a concept I think is actually very healthy on a general scale.

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This page contains a single entry by pate0863 published on February 6, 2012 7:23 AM.

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