Vegetarian diets

For vast majority of people, eating meat has been a significant part of daily diet. Every meal is not complete without consuming certain forms of meat. However, as many people enjoy meat products, the number of individuals acquiring chronic diseases has been significantly increasing for the past years. Despite the government’s initiative to promote healthy diets, the availability of food in staggering profusion, which is evident in the introduction of food chains, further reinforces people to take in more meat without realizing its cost.

In this regard, vegetarian diet should be promoted not only for health or medical purposes but for economic, religious, ethical, and ecological reasons as well. In the past, vegetarianism is viewed as a strange form of diet, although it is not a relatively new concept. However, just recently, more and more people are having a renewed interest in vegetarian diet due in part to its health benefits. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), a balanced vegetarian diet is nutritionally adequate and serves as a medium for the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses (cited in Craig, 2008).

A major research in 1997, published by the World Cancer Research Fund, recommended that consuming plant-based products lowers the risks of acquiring cancer (World Cancer Research Fund, 1997 cited in Craig, 2008). To further reinforce the said research, 200 more studies reveal that people who consume higher amounts of vegetables and fruits that are hosts to cancer-protective phytochemicals lower their risks from certain cancers like the epithelial cancer (Steinmetz, 1991 cited in Craig, 2008).

Vegetarian diet also reduces the risks of various heart diseases like Ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, stroke and myocardial infraction. In fact, one study pointed out that lifelong vegetarians are 57% less likely to develop coronary heart diseases compared to those who eat meat, and daily consumption of raw salad reduces 26% of fatalities from heart disease (Craig, 2008). Aside from heart diseases and cancer, vegetarian diet also promotes the reduction of risks acquiring other medical conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Likewise, it was discovered that vegetarian diet contributes to the proper growth and development of children (Christian Vegetarian Association [CVA], 2008). Furthermore, supporters of vegetarian diet contend that vegetarians are much healthier and are more likely to live longer lives than their non-vegetarian counterparts. Hence, compared to non-vegetarian lifestyle, vegetarian diet reduces medical costs. In a recent study, it was found that the annual medical costs in the United States have reached 30 to 60 billion dollars.

The high medial cost is attributed to the prevalence of meat consumption-related diseases such as hypertension, cancer, heart diseases, food borne illnesses, gallstones and obesity (Barnard & Nicholson, 1995 cited in Craig, 2008). The economic benefits of vegetarian diet should not be discounted as well. Because fruits and vegetable are easy to produce, vegetarians save money. In an article from Vegetarian Times published in April 1999, it was noted that eating vegetables and fruits as a replacement for meat, chicken and fish cuts off an average of 4,000 dollars each year from an individual’s food bills (Goldstein, 2002).

It is also important to note that, over 22 billion farm animals exist in the world today. Thus, these animals require large amounts of feeds, medicine, and fresh water. In the USA alone, most of the crops being grown are used to feed farm animals being raised to be slaughtered later on (“Vegetarian Diet,” 2005). For the foregoing, it should be regarded that while many people suffer from being obese or overweight, an equal number of people, most especially children, in different parts of the world are underfed or malnourished (Gardner & Halveil, 2000 cited in CVA, 2008).

It is true that political and social are the primary factors affecting world hunger. However, it should be well understood that meat-based diet is a contributing factor to the existence of such problem (Lewis, 1994 cited in CVA, 2008). As Worldwatch Institute (2000) further explains: “Grain is used much more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Meat production depends on feeding nearly 40 percent of the world’s grains to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the world’s poor” (Worldwatch Institute, 2000 cited in CVA, 2008).

Ironically, many people accuse vegetarians for caring more about animals than humans. However, based from studies, it is the other way around. Vegetarian diet encourages feeding humans instead of animals (CVA, 2008). Hence, it can be viewed that plant-based diet may be the solution for the issue of world hunger. Moreover, as noted earlier, the practice of vegetarian diet covers multitude facets which include religious and spiritual conditions as well as ethical perceptions. Many religious groups such as the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism denounce the use of animals for food.

The said religions believe that animals just like humans are created by God. Thus, they are needed to be treated with compassion and justice, thereby suggesting that doing the vegetarian diet is an adherence to God’s law that gives out the feeling of higher mental and spiritual clarity (Goldstein, 2002). Such religious perspectives can be considered related to the ethical value of vegetarian diet. More often than not, animals that are raised for agribusiness are denied of better living conditions which bring negative impact to the animals and may cause animals to acquire diseases that can be transferred to humans.

The negative impact may range from damages in different body parts of the animals, perpetration of self-mutilation, starvation, and death. Likewise, human participation in inflicting injury to the animals before they are slaughtered should not be discounted. These include castration and cutting of body parts without pain relievers, branding with the use of steers, and other forms of brutal behaviors (CVA, 2008). As noted by Carol Adams (2001), every time and individual purchases meat products, the individual further encourages producers to inflict injury to animals.

Thus, for many supporters animal rights activist, engaging to vegetarian diet reduces the harm inflicted to animals. The merits of vegetarian diet also extend in the ecological perspective. As noted previously, there are billions of farm animals today. Alongside the growing number of the said animals, more environmental problems should be expected. Raising livestock contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases and requires larger space, resulting in ecological destruction.

It is noteworthy that the greenhouse emission generated by the livestock sector is already parallel to all transportation activities. In addition, farm animal wastes usually end up in river and streams, resulting in the contamination of groundwater and rising nitrate levels that posit threat to public health. It was also found out that in the US, the raising of cattle is the primary cause of soil erosion and the destruction of the Amazon and Central American rainforests, reinforcing global warming.

By taking these things into consideration it is a clear indication that vegetarian diet has further environmental edge than meat diet. As such, vegetarian diet further sustains agricultural practices that are beneficial for the preservation of the environment (“Vegetarian Diet,” 2005). Apparently, the merits of vegetarian diet are clear and far-reaching. Not only is it beneficial in various aspects, but it can result in a better quality of life both for humans and animals. Therefore, its practice should be advocated.


Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA). (2008). Vegetarianism’s Benefits. Retrieved     December 11, 2008 from

Craig, W. (2008). Health benefits of vegetarian diets.

Retrieved December 11, 2008 from http://www.vegetarian-  

Goldstein, M.C. (2002). Controversies in Food and Nutrition. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

How a vegetarian diet can heal the environment. (2005). Retrieved

December 11, 2008 from

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