Vegetarianism is not a new aspect in modern society. People have been practicing vegetarianism for a long time, and it has its health benefits (Ruby, 2012). There are several grounds why a person would opt for a vegan meal, which will be analyzed and discussed in the paper. It is not easy to understand vegetarians because there are some who will consume by-products of animals like milk, while other will completely abstain from any animal by-product. Therefore, it is vital that we all understand the different kinds of vegetarianism. There is debate on whether a strict vegetarian diet would offer the individual the necessary nutrients for their body. It is for this reason that most vegetarians have to consume supplements. The lack of meat is the main challenge that most vegetarians are faced with, which causes a majority of them to relapse within a short period mostly twelve months. The positive and negative influences that a vegetarian faces in terms of health should be closely analyzed. This paper will make an attempt to cover the different aspects of vegetarianism, the reasons why people opt for vegetarian meals, and the challenges that vegetarians face plus some solutions.
Thesis: Understanding vegetarianism and the different kinds of vegetarians who are defined by food they consume, and what caused them to adopt a vegetarian diet.
Around the world, humans slaughter over fifty-six billion farm animals every year for food (Capper, 2011). Statistics have shown that over 3,000 animals are killed every second in slaughterhouses across the world (The Vegetarian Society, n.d.). These figures are quite shocking, but they exclude fish and other sea creatures. The deaths of any marine animal are only measured in tons, which goes to show the immense number of sea creatures and fish that die each year. With this in mind, there are people who felt offended and preferred to save the animals by consuming only plant diets. These people are referred to as vegetarians. Vegetarianism is defined as the practice of refraining from consuming red meat, poultry, and seafood (Gammon, von Hurst, Coad, Kruger, & Stonehouse, 2012). It might also include the refrainment from animal slaughter by-products. There are several grounds as to why a person would go vegetarian. A majority of people choose vegetarianism out of their respect for sentient life. Though vegetarianism is a popular choice for many people, there are worries by most parents if a vegetarian diet would be suitable/healthy for their children (Mangels, n.d.).
The different kinds of vegetarianism include ovo-vegetarianism, lacto-vegetarianism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, and vegan. Ovo-vegetarianism is a type of vegetarianism that allows the individual to consume eggs, but no dairy products and meat (Barnes, Singh, & Parayitam, 2013). The main reasons these individuals avoid dairy products is because of the industrial practices issues. Lacto-vegetarianism is a type of vegetarianism that allows the individual to consume dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt, cream, ghee, and butter, but eggs and meat are excluded (Barnes et al., 2013). These type of vegetarianism originates from India, and most people who observe it been followers of Eastern religions (Ruby, Heine, Kamble, Cheng, & Waddar, 2013). The vegetarians who consume dairy products and eggs, but do not consume meat are referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegans are individuals who practice vegetarianism, but they only consume food from plant sources.
Main reasons for vegetarianism
a. Ethical reasons
i. To save animals
There are various reasons that make people prefer a vegetarian diet. The main ones being ethical and emotional reasons. The ethical reasons will include environmental and desire to save the animals. The love a person would have for animals would prevent the person from consuming any meat products. This falls under ethical reasons for not eating meat or consuming animal by-products. There have been issues raised by many people regarding the cruelty that animals undergo especially during slaughter. Many vegetarians cannot fathom the idea of eating meat after knowing the cruel methods of slaughtering. Vegetarians believe that animals are exploited in order to offer nourishment for humans. The rearing of most animals is not done in a humane manner, and this causes most vegetarians to have restrictions when it comes to consuming meat, or animal by-products. In order to obtain veal, newborn calves have to be slaughtered, and this raises concerns for most vegetarians. The...
Milk production can only take place after a cow has given birth. For a cow to produce more milk they are fed with growth hormones, or are constantly kept pregnant. Many vegetarians believe that this is the wrong way to treat animals, and this causes them to opt for plant sources for food. In their attempt to save animals, from all this cruelty, most vegetarians prefer to consume food from plant sources and encourage others to join in on their vegan diet.
ii. Environmental There are also environmental reasons that cause people to prefer vegetarian diets. Rearing animals for human consumption needs huge amounts of water. The water is wasted since it cannot be reused for other purposes. The amount of water used could be used for other purposes and plants would not require such a huge amount. Cattle raised for meat produce methane gas. Methane is one of the greenhouse gasses that contributes to global warming. Deforestation takes place because people need land for raising the animals and growing animal feed. Most people who raise animals for meat do so on large tracks of land. The land does not have any trees because trees would offer shelter to predators. In order to maintain the increasing number of animals reared, a person would have to sacrifice a large portion of their land to grow animal fodder. Humans cannot consume the grain grown for animals, but it would be much better if the person grew only grain for human consumption. This would reduce the adverse effects that cattle have on the environment, and would conserve the forest. The grain would offer enough nutrients to the person. Animals are also huge contributors to water, land, and air pollution. Plants have been known to ease the effects of global warming, and they purify the air we breathe. Grazing of animals will lead to the loss of topsoil, which would in turn result in unfertile barren land. Growing crops for human consumption would serve two purpose, feed people and conserve the environment.
b. Mental reasons
Most vegetarians also prefer a vegan diet in order to increase their self-control. Changing from a meat diet to a complete vegetarian diet is not an easy task, and most people would find this a difficult thing to achieve. A person who can completely modify their diet to not have any meat or animal by-products would need to have self-control. They should manage to control their desires for meat, which would offer them the strength they need to change their dietary habits. The person would need to have a genuine and convincing reason that would make them desire to change their diet. The self-control they learn during this period could proof beneficial in the end because the person would have learned how to overcome emotional or personal desires.
c. Health benefits
It has been argued that vegetarianism is a more healthy way of living. Vegetarian diets offer a well-balanced diet, which is vital for a human being. Meat and animal by-products are high contributors to high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes (Forestell, Spaeth, & Kane, 2012). A vegetarian diet has been proved to prevent this diseases and conditions. One should understand that vegetarianism is not fool-proof. When one decides to stop eating meat and other animal by-products, they should plan their diet well, which would ensure they have a well-balanced meal all the time. The fiber that plant sources produce or offer a person cannot be found in meat or animal by-products. The fiber is beneficial to the body because it cleans the body and prevent the buildup of unwanted fats within the body. Plant sources also have less fat, which is beneficial to maintaining a lean body figure. According to research done by Ho-Pham, Vu, Lai, Nguyen, and Nguyen (2012), it has been established that vegetarians weigh less than meat consuming individuals do.
Difficulties faced by vegetarians
Most vegetarians are faced with many difficulties. According to Ingenbleek and McCully (2012) a majority of the people who prefer vegan diets fail to balance their diet, which leads to malnutrition and need to take supplements. Vitamins are the most necessary ingredients for any meal. The supplements would offer the required nutrients, but over-reliance on supplements could have adverse effects on the person's health. There are also misconceptions that many vegetarians harbor like the one vegan diet is the best diets, or killing animals is evil. These misconceptions could lead to continuous discrimination. Many people do not understand why a person would prefer only to survive on a vegetarian diet, which causes…
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