Vegetarians vs. Meat Eaters Introduction Vegetarianism is adopted by many individuals as way of living life. Vegetarianism is the voluntary abstinence from consuming meat. The issue is whether or not a vegetarian diet is truly safer than a diet consisting of meat. Individuals adopt a vegetarian lifestyle for different reasons. Some of the reasons consist of religious or ethical beliefs, or health reasons. Vegetarian diets are also recommended as a medicinal diet for individuals suffering from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.
The results of a vegetarian diet may seem beneficial, but the safety of a vegetarian diet is questionable. Some individuals consider vegetarianism to be the healthiest way of living. On the other hand, severe consequences occur when relying solely on vegetables as a way of life. The intake of meat in a diet is necessary to obtain the nutrients not provided in vegetables. Vegetarianism In 1847, the term “vegetarianism” was coined by the founders of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain. Consumption of only vegetables, have existed since the creation of diets.
Increases of food not containing meat have increased since the 1990’s. Most of the increases occurred because doctors and medical organizations stated that limiting meat intake could result in a less chance of developing degenerative diseases. The vegetarian lifestyle dates back to one of the oldest cultures, the Hindus. Hindus consume a vegetarian diet because of their religious beliefs. Based on Hindu beliefs, beauty, good memory, and longer life ps are possessed, if meat is not consumed. Beliefs, such as the Hindus, differ depending on the culture.
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Vegetarianism is also used as a way of treating common illnesses. Currently, many individuals suffer from illnesses such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In some cases, the implementation of an all vegetable diet has been incorporated to help lower the effects related to these conditions. In patients suffering from cancer, vegetarianism is used as a dietary therapy treatment. Vegetarianism is used to treat one of America’s largest conditions, obesity. In 2008, the medical costs associated with individuals suffering from obesity were about $147 billion (CDC, 2012).
Implementing a vegetarian diet is one way to reduce the excess weight of obese individuals and lower medical costs. Implementing an all-vegetable diet is easy to implement and it is an economical practice for aiding in the treatment of medical conditions. Limitations of Vegetarianism Vegetarianism may be beneficial, but the deficiencies that occur as a result of this diet, outweigh the benefits. According to the governmental Food Guide Pyramid, five sources of foods should be consumed in order to supply the body with essential nutrients. The five food sources are: milk, bread, fruit, vegetable, and meat groups.
These dietary guidelines were created to help individuals live a healthier lifestyle. When a necessary nutrient is removed from the body, complications may begin to occur. Restricting meat from the body produces a deficiency in the nutrients needed for the body to function properly (Timko, 2012). The nutrients that the body loses on an all-vegetable diet consist of: Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, and Iron. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of nutrient that is not manufactured by the body, but is essential. This nutrient must be obtained through an individual’s diet, which would have to consist of fish.
Omega-3 has the ability to slow the development of atherosclerosis, it is an anti-inflammatory, it lowers triglyceride levels, and it helps with depression. When foods are not consumed that contain this nutrient, individuals face a higher chance of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, brain development complications, and inflammation (Timko, 2012). Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that is found in the protein of animals, dairy, eggs, seafood, and plants (Web M. D. , 2012). Although B-12 is found in plants, it cannot be consumed by humans.
Therefore, the consumption of meat is necessary. Vitamin B-12 is necessary for the body because it prevents the blood levels in the body from becoming too low (Web M. D. , 2012). When the body lacks Vitamin B-12, serious conditions may occur such as anemia (lack of healthy red blood cells) or irreversible nerve damage. The consumption of Vitamin B-12 also helps treat and prevents anemia, memory loss, unhealthy immune systems, loss of energy and concentration, and heart disease (Web M. D. , 2012) Calcium is the third deficiency occurring from restricting meat from the body.
Dairy products provide the greatest source of calcium for the body. About 70% of the United States receives calcium from dairy products (MedicineNet, 2012). The body depends on calcium for the production of strong bones. Calcium also helps the lungs, heart, and muscles to function properly (Mayo, 2012). When the body lacks calcium, it could result in low bone mass production which leads to osteoporosis (Mayo, 2012). The final nutrient lost in a vegetarian diet is iron. Iron is important because it aids in the transportation of oxygen throughout the body (MedicineNet, 2012).
When the body lacks iron, individuals tend to feel fatigued and immune function decreases. To counteract the feeling of fatigue, it is important to consume meats that contain iron. Disadvantages of Vegetarianism The lifestyle of a vegetarian has drawbacks that could result into long term issues for individuals. The vegetarian lifestyle requires individuals to replace the nutrients received from meat, by using other products. Many vegetarians use cheese and other daily products to provide calcium and vitamins with their meals. Depending strictly on vegetables does not mean that an individual will be healthier.
When individuals supplement extra products to make up for what they lack in meat, it could cause excessive weight gain over the years (Lunan, 2011). In an article entitled Vegetarians: Beware the Carbs and Cheese, 29,138 vegetarians and non-vegetarians were surveyed. The results showed that female vegetarians were no healthier than meat-eating females. On the other hand, male vegetarians suffered from gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal symptoms (Lunan, 2011). Mental disorders have the ability to affect numerous types of individuals, including vegetarians.
In an article entitled Vegetarian Diet and Mental Disorders, based on a community survey, vegetarians were highly associated with having mental disorders (Michalak, 2012). The study showed how vegetarians had an elevated rate for mental disorders such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and somatoform disorders. The study also showed that once a vegetarian diet was adopted, then a mental disorder followed the start of the diet (Michalak, 2012). When vegetarians restrict their body of what it needs, such as meat, it begins to affect the mind as well.
It is mentally unsafe for a person to consume an all-vegetable diet. If consumption of only vegetables causes an individual to gain a mental disorder, it is obvious that this is an unhealthy choice to adopt. Anorexia is another serious condition that younger female vegetarians face. Some dieticians believe that teenagers who are limiting themselves to a vegetable only diet are also setting themselves up to developing anorexia nervosa (Vegetarian or Anorexic? , 1999). This disorder typically affects young females. Anorexia causes individuals to eat as less as possible, which causes malnourishment.
When this occurs, it also increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, hormone imbalances, liver problems, and slow heart beats. Being a vegetarian gives individuals an excuse to worry about what they eat and to be overly cautious. When a younger female avoids food, she is typically avoiding it for the wrong reasons. The disadvantages that result from living a lifestyle of a vegetarian have the ability to cause life-threatening illnesses. Eating right, including all of the five food groups in a daily diet, is safer than adopting a diet that can have negative results in the future.
Benefits of Meat Consumption Contrary to what most vegans think, important benefits are derived from consuming meat. The first benefit that individuals receive from meat is protein. Meats contain a large amount of proteins that are beneficial to the body. When protein is in the body, it allows for building of body tissues, repairing of damages muscles, and production of antibodies used to fight infections. Amino acids are also found in meats, which aid in strengthening the body’s immune system (Medical Daily, 2012).
Meat contains all of the amino acids; therefore it is one of the best sources of protein. Not only does it provide protein for the body, it also helps to maintain your skin. A second benefit of consuming meat is that it contains three important nutrients: iron, selenium, and zinc. Iron is important because it aids in the production of hemoglobin in the body. It also helps transport oxygen thought the body (Medical Daily, 2012). Selenium is a mineral that is essential to good health, but has to be consumed in an individual’s diet. Selenium is found in crab, liver, fish, and poultry.
This mineral is necessary because it breaks down chemicals and fats in the body. Zinc is an important mineral because it aids in metabolism and formation of tissue (Medical Daily, 2012). Vitamins are a very important part of every individual diet. Consuming meats allows the body to receive vitamins that are necessary for it to function properly. Vitamins A, B, and D are three of the most important vitamins that the body needs. These vitamins promote strong bones and teeth, good mental health, nervous system support, and better vision. Conclusion
Restricting a diet to only vegetable intake does not guarantee that a vegetarian in healthier than an individual that consumes meat. Vegetarians do benefit from this type of lifestyle because they may have lower cholesterol, less weight gain, and lower risks of developing illnesses. On the other hand, restricting meat from a diet results in numerous complications. The loss of nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, are a tremendous disadvantage for vegetarians. Vegetarians may suffer from anorexia, mental disorders, and gastrointestinal problems.
When changing a diet causes more harm than good, the best decision is to give the body the nutrients it was designed to receive. References Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Obesity”; August 13, 2012 http://www. cdc. gov/obesity/data/adult. html Deckere, E. A. , "European Journal of Cancer Prevention"; "Possible beneficial effect of fish and fish n'3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast and colorectal cancer"; July 1999 http://www. livestrong. com/article/314378-what-is-purpose-of-omega-3-fatty-acids/ “Food Guide Pyramid”; 2012 http://www. nal. usda. gov/fnic/Fpyr/pmap. tm Lunan, K. , “Vegeterians: Beware of Carbs and Cheese”; Vol. 124 Issue 37, P. 60-61, 2011 Retrieved from the SJC Database on Nov. 19, 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, “Calcium and Calcium Supplements”; 1998-2012 http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/calcium-supplements/MY01540 Medical Daily, “3 Benefits of Eating Meat”; 2012 http://www. medicaldaily. com/articles/3971/20101119/3-benefits-of-eating-meat. htm MedicineNet. , “Vegeterian and Vegan Diet”; 1996-2012 http://www. medicinenet. com/vegetarian_and_vegan_diet/page2. htm Michalak, J. , Xiao Chi Z. , Jacobi, F. :Vegeterian diet and Mental Disorders: Results from a Representative Community Survey”; International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity; 2012, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p 67-76 Retrieved from the SJC Database on Nov. 19, 2012 Taepavarapruk, P. , "Journal of Neurochemistry"; "Reductions of acetylcholine release and nerve growth factor expression are correlated with memory impairment induced by interleukin-1beta administrations: effects of omega-3 fatty acid EPA treatment"; December 2009 http://www. livestrong. com/article/314378-what-is-purpose-of-omega-3-fatty-acids/ Timko, A. “Dietary Restriction: A Comparison of Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians”; Eating Disorders Review; Vol. 23 Issue 3, p6-6, May/June 2012 Retrieved from the SJC Database on Nov. 19, 2012 “Vegetarian or Anorexic? ” November 26, 1999 Retrieved from the SJC Database on Nov. 19, 2012 “Vegetarianism”, November 26, 1999 Retrieved from the SJC Database on Nov. 19, 2012 Web M. D. “Vitamin B12: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, and Warnings”; 2005-2012 http://www. webmd. com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-926-VITAMIN%20B12. aspx? activeIngredientId=926&activeIngredientName=VITAMIN%20B12
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