There are a variety of reasons why someone may choose to become a vegetarian – health reasons, concerns about animal torture, use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or simply an inclination to reduce excessive use of environmental resources. Over the years, being a vegetarian has become more feasible owing to the year-round availability of fresh produce, ample vegetarian dining options and the increasing culinary influence of cultures that have mostly plan-based diets. Historically, vegetarianism has been associated with potential nutritional deficiencies but recent studies have found that meat-free dining is actually good for your health. Not only it is nutritionally sufficient, it also lowers the risks of many chronic diseases. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
However, a distinction needs to be made here. We need to focus on the term ‘appropriately planned’, which means following the recommended guidelines of nutrition, fat consumption and weight control. This is because, a diet of cheese pizza, candy and soda while technically ‘vegetarian’, it will not be necessarily good. A healthy diet will include a diverse variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It is equally important to include good fats instead of saturated and trans fats, like those found in nuts, canola oil and olive oil. Please remember that you can still gain weight if you are consuming too many calories, even if it comes from nutritious, plant-based food. So, portion control is necessary and add to that, physical activity.
Let’s look at the cumulative benefits of a vegetarian diet –
- Reduce the risk of heart diseases
Saturated fat and cholesterol are low in vegetarian diets, and it also has a higher amount of plant nutrients than most meat-based diets. In a comparison, vegetarians were shown to have 24% lower risk of dying from heart disease than non-vegetarians. In addition, Dr. Dean Ornish, world renowned physician, found that a low-fat vegetarian diet helped in coronary heart disease reversal in patients.
- Prevent cancer
Regular consumption of diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables has been linked with a reduced risk of some cancers. There is ample evidence that compared to the general population, vegetarians tend to have an overall lower rate of cancer occurrence. “Red meat and processed meat consumption is consistently associated with an increase in the risk of colorectal cancer.” A great reason to include fruits and vegetables in your meals.
- Maintain weight
On an average, meat eaters have a higher body mass index (a measure of body fat) than vegetarians. According to the Oxford Vegetarian Study, BMI levels are found to be lower in vegetarians across all age groups, for both men and women. This is due to the vegetarian diet that is high in fibre with low-energy foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Live longer and slow the ageing process
A 12-year Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal showed that vegetarians outlive non-vegetarians by 6 years. Plant-based diets are high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that help in strengthening the immune system, thereby slowing down the ageing process. Vegetarian diet has been found to prevent and reverse some chronic diseases as well.
- Avoid toxic food contaminants
Meat-based food can have contaminants like herbicides, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Since these toxins are fat-soluble, they are usually found in the fatty flesh of animals. Additionally, there are cases of viruses, bacteria and parasites like salmonella, trichinella, toxoplasmosis parasites and other worms.
- Help with global warming
In 2006, the United Nations put out a report that showed that livestock is responsible for generating greenhouses gases that is more than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. The majority of it comes from carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide gases that manure generates. If you care about your planet, this conscious step will be in the right direction.
- Help end world hunger
It is reported that a person dies from starvation every 3.6 seconds, especially children under the age of 5. On average, 40% of global grain production is used to feed livestock which goes up to 70% in richer countries. “If all food crops grown globally were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, which would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people. Rather than cycle crops through livestock, that sudden surplus alone would be enough food to feed over half the humans on earth, let alone the 795 million who face hunger every day.”
- Have compassion for animals
It is our duty to extend our empathy and compassion towards farmed animals, who are no less emotive than the dogs and cats we have as companions, yet, there is no legal protection from cruelty for them. A vegetarian diet is inclusive, and keeps in mind that we need to be protective of animals, and not exploitative.
Mahatma Gandhi is the corporate icon of the QI group, who propagated the concept of ahimsa, a Sanskrit term for ‘non-violence’. This central theme translated into the practice of vegetarianism, a way of life followed by Gandhi and advocated by him passionately.
QNET follows this mantra closely and promotes vegetarianism actively. QNET does not promote any product that contain animal parts or have been tested on animals. All our products are cruelty-free and sourced ethically.
Vegetarian meals can be tasty, fast to cook and good for your health. Usher in a new you this 2020 with delicious vegetarian food.