Everything that we do has consequences. Eating junk food makes us fat, raises blood pressure and puts the threat of cancer into our lives. Following a vegetarian lifestyle irresponsibly can lead to malnutrition and health problems. Anything that we do has an impact on our lives. It is our responsibility to ensure that we make wise choices and see to it that we are educated about our own particular brand of lifestyle. Doing so keeps us healthier, happier and lets us live longer. The focus of this article will be on the pros and cons of the vegetarian lifestyle.
The Case for Meat
We cannot make a case for vegetarianism without discussing meat as a dietary choice. You cannot make an informed decision without the facts. Eating a diet heavy in meat serves as a fabulous source of high quality proteins. The essential amino acids that the body requires are contained in a diet rich with red meat. Red meat contains very high quantities of iron. The phosphorus content of meat is much more easily absorbed than the phosphorus in cereals and legumes. Meat is the main source for the intake of vitamin B12.
The Case for a Vegetarian Based Diet
Now that we have looked at meat, let's take a peek at vegetable based diets. We then have a basis of comparison. Vegetables also contain protein, the same as meat. There is no difference. What is important here is to balance the vegetarian diet to insure that proper nutrition is achieved. A vegetarian diet is different from an omnivorous diet in that it relies on beans and lentils for its source of proteins. Soy products, such as tofu and tempeh, are used to provide isoflavins, such as genistein and daidzein, which help to diminish bone loss, inhibit tumor growth and lower cholesterol. By following a plant based diet, we limit our chances of cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.
Disadvantages Of A Meat Based Diet
Now that we have discussed both vegetarian and omnivorous diets, we can make an educated choice in which would work best for us. A meat based diet is generally high in fat. Hamburger, a favorite staple of many, is made from cows with the four D's – dead, disabled, diseased, and dying. This is why so many children are becoming ill from eating hamburger. We also retain the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to cattle to accelerate growth and cause weight gain. Meat also works to raise cholesterol levels. It is suspected that meat-eaters are prime candidates for degenerative diseases, such as arthritis and gout. Fish and prawns and other crustaceans are preserved using boric acid, which attacks the liver and the brain. Boric acid is known to cause fits and coma before the victim dies of liver damage.
Disadvantages of a Plant Based Diet
A plant based diet also has disadvantages. One of the most serious side effects of a plant based diet is that some vitamins and minerals may be lacking from the diet if people don't eat a wide variety of foods. Some studies have found that vegans have a low intake of the vitamin riboflavin (B2), which is important in converting protein, fats and carbohydrates into energy. Vitamin B12 is found in meats, and not present in a vegan diet. Some plants, such as seaweed, fermented soy products and algae are reported as being high in B12, but some feel that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be in a form unavailable to humans. The formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system are accomplished by B12. Vitamin D is not found in a plant based diet.
As we can see, both meat based and plant based diets have advantages and disadvantages. For someone on a plant based diet, the lack of vitamins and minerals can be gained by good dietary choice and the use of supplements. With a meat based diet, the needed vitamins and minerals may be there, but we have to deal with higher cholesterol and issues with cancer and heart disease. No diet is perfect. However, to my way of thinking, it is much easier to take vitamin and mineral supplements than to have to deal with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Certainly, we can add things such as vitamins and minerals in, but it is extremely hard to take out the effects of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a colon packed with red meat. Armed with this information you can make an intelligent choice. It is up to the reader to decide what is best for him or herself.
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Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.