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Monday, August 29, 2011

On Being a Vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian for about 7 years now. I am a pesco-vegetarian which is just a fancy way of saying that I don't eat any meat except for fish. I have never liked meat and would get in the biggest fights with my parents even when I was a little girl over not wanting to eat their lovingly prepared meals because they had meat in them. My mom and dad told me different stories to get me to eat meat: The chicken was grown on the supermarket shelf! Chickens shed their breasts! I didn't buy it. Not only did I not like the taste of meat  (it seemed overly chewy and I would be horrified to see a vein or tendon), I just couldn't separate the cute fluffy animals I loved from the food in front of me.

So, as soon as it was up to me, I stopped eating meat. At first I didn't even eat fish but after a while realized that I actually do like seafood and fish (yay, sushi!) so incorporated that into my diet. I don't miss meat one bit. People ask me often if it's hard to be a vegetarian. To me, it is the easiest thing in the world.

If you're not interested in becoming a vegetarian, then skip the rest of this post. But, if you're even just a bit curious, here are some reasons to consider vegetarianism:

1. Cut the fat. While meat provides a lot of protein, it often also provides a lot of fat - especially saturated fat. This means that by cutting out meat, you'll be cutting out a lot of bad fat and replacing it with things that are probably not only lower in fat, but contain some good fats. (Hello, avocado!) This greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, and in fact numerous studies have shown that vegetarians tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, as well as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Read more here.

2. Less food poisoning. Food poisoning gets millions of people sick each year - and many of them from meat, which is a good breeding ground for harmful bacteria, especially if not stored, prepared, or cooked exactly right. Cut out meat and lower  your risk of food poisoning.

3. Reduce the suffering. You probably don't want to hear about the horrific treatment of animals that are raised for food even before they are slaughtered. But suffice it to say, there are great amounts of suffering involved, and by cutting out meat, you are reducing your involvement in that. Read more here.

4. Help the environment. There are actually numerous ways the meat industry harms the environment: from a waste of our resources (animals raised for food eat enough grain to feed the world!), to waste of fuel, to the pollution caused by their waste matter, and much more. Read more about that here.

5. Help your weight loss. It's possible to be a vegetarian and eat very unhealthy foods including soda, fried foods, pizza, and chips. But it's much more difficult. Studies repeatedly show that vegetarians are slimmer and are less likely to be obese than meat eaters. If you're trying to lose weight, being a vegetarian can be a good part of your program.

6. Get better nutrition. In general (though not necessarily), vegetarians replace meat with more nutritious foods, such as vegetables, beans, whole grains, and so on. When your body gets the nutrients it needs, it shows in your skin and hair, your energy levels, and your mood.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing some tips for becoming a vegetarian and how just a few changes can make a big difference :). XO

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