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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Eliminating the myths surrounding vegetarianism

Being a vegetarian doesn’t make somebody better than everybody else, but properly leading a vegetarian lifestyle definitely makes them healthier.

Many people over the years have decided to change the way they eat, and have since been reaping the benefits. Some people adopt this way of eating for moral reasons, while others do it for the health benefits.

Just like any lifestyle-changing decision, it’s not easy. Some people cannot completely let go of eating meat and that is absolutely OK. Even ending up somewhere closer to a plant-based diet, which is a diet comprising of mostly vegetables, will experience positive effects.

People who even mention that they are interested in eating less meat, or dare to say the v-word are barraged with reasons why they shouldn’t pursue that type of diet. The reasons range from claims that the person won’t get enough protein to the necessity of consuming dairy products. Athletes are often told that for them it is not an optimal diet.

This kind of response is completely understandable, as many consumers have been told for years that meat is an essential part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. This is a myth. The first thing to do as a consumer is to get educated and conduct personal research.

An April 2013 eatright.org article by Alexandra Caspero distinguishes the myths and facts, giving examples on how all of the essential minerals and vitamins can be obtained by eating the proper vegetables, grains and other products. Caspero also said that “plant-based protein typically contains more fiber and less fat, both cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet.”

It’s not just protein though, and the overall health benefits are astounding. Vegetarians or plant-based dieters experience more energy because proper vegetable diets are virtually free of cholesterol and high in complex carbohydrates. Eating the right vegetables will even promote living longer.

“If you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life,” Michael F. Roizen, author of “The Real Age Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat,” said in an article by Vegetarian Times.

Roizen also said that a lifetime of heavy meat consumption can lead to more disability later in life, a slower immune system and even experiencing sexual dysfunction at a younger age.

There have been many other studies showing that switching to a plant-based diet can even reduce or completely alleviate the risk of types of cancer and other terminal diseases.

The American Dietetic Association published a study concluding that proper vegetarian diets are “healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.”

Imagine the number of people that wouldn’t develop life-threatening conditions, and how many people wouldn’t need to go to the hospital as frequently — if at all. The idea is to cut the risk of serious illness by dissolving it before it becomes a problem.

Vegetarianism is a whole subject of its own to learn about and explore. The amazing benefits and life-enhancing changes are what truly set it apart from dietary fads.

The common misconception about adopting a vegetarian diet, or something resembling it, is that one has to possess or develop some kind of disdain for meat, but this is not the case. The act of reading and educating oneself about food and how it affects one’s health is more than enough.

Walking into a grocery store, farmers market or eating out with the knowledge of what one is eating is what’s important. Going about the day with the ability to make the conscious and educated decision about what food to eat is where the change can occur.

Opinion columnist Tyler Al-Obaidi is a creative writing junior and may be reached at [email protected].

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