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Why Vegetarian? 

Why vegetarian? What's so bad about a little bit of meat, after all?

It's pretty clear that meat severely damages our health, ages us, and destroys our planet. By removing it from our diet we can live a much healthier life.

In this article I'll walk you through the basic rationale underpinning arguments for a meatless diet.

Why Vegetarian? The Cancer Colossus

One in four Americans is killed by cancer, the out-of-control derangement and growth of cells within the body.

What might seem an illogical rebellion of bodily processes is not entirely random, however, and is often brought on by the consumption of an unhealthy diet.  Although it affects different types of cancers at different rates, your chance of developing cancer is definitely increased if you eat meat. 

Studies in England and Germany have shown that a vegetarian is approximately 40 percent less likely to develop cancer than a meat eater (3, 4, 5).

Why Vegetarian TumorIn part because it has no fiber, meat crawls through the digestive system and quickly starts to rot in the dark, fetid interior of the body. It's no surprise, then, that Harvard studies including tens of thousands of men and women have shown regular meat consumption increases colon cancer risk by about 300 percent (1, 2).

In countries that eat a primarily vegetarian diet, breast cancer risk is significantly reduced (7). In Japan, which historically ate a primarily-vegetarian diet, women who have switched to a heavy-meat diet are eight times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who follow the traditional Japanese plant-based diet (8).

Part of vegetarians' reduced risk may stem from the fact that they have a higher number of a specialized type of white blood cell, usually called, "natural killer cells," which hunt down and destroy cancer cells (6).

Why vegetarian? Because it keeps your body from going haywire.

Why Vegetarian? Clogged Arteries

What if there was a litmus test we could apply to a species to determine if it was meant to eat meat?

Believe it or not, we have such a test in atherosclerosis, the gradual hardening and blockage of the arteries almost every westerner suffers from.

When the arteries harden sufficiently to cut off the flow of blood and oxygen, death often ensues without intervention. Thirty six percent of the population will be killed off before their time by heart disease, stroke, and the fatally high blood pressure that stem from atherosclerosis. Virtually everyone is on the path toward these deaths, but some people die of other causes before atherclesoris can claim them.

"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined.  If beef is your idea of "real food for real people" you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." 
- Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D.

Luckily for those looking to escape this fate, a basic truth has emerged: species meant to eat meat will not develop atherosclerosis.

A good medical text book will tell you that in a clinical setting, species designed to eat plant foods - humans, monkeys, and rabbits - can reliably be caused to develop heart disease by adding cholesterol (only found in animal foods) to their diet. However, natural carnivore species like dogs and cats will not develop heart disease no matter how much cholesterol you add because they are have evoled to eat it (9).

Why Vegetarian Atherosclerosis Clogged ArteryPerhaps William C. Roberts MD, author of 1300 scientific publications, numerous cardiology textbooks, and editor of the American Journal of Cardiology for a quarter of a century said it best:

In his 2008 editorial, "The Cause of Atherosclerosis," published in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice, Roberts says that, "Atherosclerosis is easily produced in nonhuman herbivores by feeding them a high cholesterol or high saturated fat diet… atherosclerosis was not produced in a minority of rats fed these diets, it was produced in 100% of the animals! Indeed, atherosclerosis is one of the easiest diseases to produce experimentally, but the experimental animal must be an herbivore. It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore…"

In other words, any animal that can get atherosclerosis is not equipped to eat meat because it will kill them.

Why vegetarian? Because Humans are plant eaters.

Why Vegetarian?

Because It Keeps Your Blood Pressure Low

High blood pressure is dangerous, and it increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke, among other problems.

Fortunately, vegetarians tend to have much low blood pressure considered in the healthy range (12, 13, 14).

Why? No one is sure, but researchers theorize that without the added fat from meat and other animal products,  the blood’s viscosity (thickness) is reduced, which brings down blood pressure. Plant foods are generally lower in fat and sodium and have no cholesterol at all. Vegetables and fruits are also rich in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.

Why Vegetarian?

Because Meat Ages You And Plants Keep You Young

Why Vegetarian Fruit Stand

Don't want to get old? Stop eating meat and start eating plants.

Better than anything medical science can bring to bear, the beneficial compounds found in raw fruits and vegetables inhibit cellular aging, fuel cellular repair, induce the detoxification enzymes that keep us clean and healthy, and bind the carcinogens which lead to cancer (10).

If you cut out meat and replace those calories with fruits and vegetables, you'll live a lot longer. On the other hand, the more meat you eat the quicker you'll age. Check out the Eskimos, for instance. 

Why Vegetarian? 

Because You Can Get Everything Your Body Needs From Plants.

There isn't a single nutrient required for our health that can't easily be obtained from plant foods.


Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, can be synthesized by the body or ingested from food. Of the 20 amino acids in food, the body can make use of 11.

The 9 essential amino acids, which cannot be produced by the body, must be obtained from food. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds provide all of them, and protein combining is not necessary (11).

Learn more about protein here.

Vitamins and Minerals?

Fruits and are the best source of vitamins, and vegetables are the best source of minerals.

In terms of quality and quantity, they leave animal foods in the dust.


Why Vegetarian GreensVitamin B12 is a complicated subject, but it's clear that a lack of animal foods does not necessarily bring about B12 deficiency.

Among the general US population (who eat a diet rich in animal foods), 39 percent had levels that were considered to be low in B12 according to one study of 3,000 (22).

It's likely that B12 deficiency is as much an issue of absorption as intake. Learn more about B12 here.

If you're still concerned, just take a B12 supplement.


Many people wonder if they can get enough calcium for strong bones without meat and dairy foods. The answer is unequivocally yes. In fact, those who eat the most meat are the ones with the most bone breakage.

Take the Eskimos, who, during in a 1976 study, were eating a whopping 2,000 mg of calcium a day from soft-boned fish. Despite this intake, they had the highest hip-fracture rate in the world (15).

"One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;' and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle." 
- Henry David Thoreau

Fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, along with other minerals needed for strong bones, but because they are alkaline and not acid like meat, they do not strip the bones of calcium to neutralize the acid (16, 17).

Most green vegetables have calcium absorption rates over 50 percent vs 32 percent for milk (18), but because animal food causes the body to excrete calcium in its urine, the net difference is even greater.

In countries with lower animal food intake osteoporosis is less common, even through these people also take in less calcium (21).

Why Vegetarian? The more animal protein you eat, the weaker your bones become.

Why Vegetarian?

Because Just A Little Is Too Much

Even when animal protein intake is extremely low (the equivalent of three chicken nuggets a day), a person's risk of cancer, heart disease, a host of other diseases, and early death is considerably higher than when a person eats less meat (19).

It's best to cut meat out entirely.

Why Vegetarian?

Because We're Destroying Our Planet

Why Vegetarian EarthThe problems caused by meat eating exceed what goes on in our own bodies. In order to support our meat habit we've turned to industrial agriculture, and what was once the small-scale destruction of the earth has risen to a massive scale.

Across the country, forests are being felled to create pastureland and grain fields for livestock.

By 2005, 260 million acres of forest had been clear-cut for animal agriculture in the United States (20). With the population of the earth rising and much many people adopting our meat-eating ways, deforestation is only increasing, and much of the Amazon Rain Forest has been clear cut.

The consequence is soil loss on a massive scale, less carbon being stored in the soil, less oxygen being produced, and less air being filtered.

Massive sludge piles of polluting animal waste are now being damned up because there's no place to dispose of it, and the volume of water required to run industrial livestock operations is massive, draining water-parched regions dry.

To learn more about these problems and how we can reverse them, check out this article.

Why Vegetarian? Morality

Why vegetarian? Many meat-abstainers will answer that question by talking about morality. Whether or not you think killing animals is moral, most people agree that the way factory-farmed animals are raised in horrid environments, squished together in their own filth and unable to move, is reprehensible.

Give up meat so you can withdraw your support from this horrible institution

Why vegetarian? Because it's the right thing to do.

Why Vegetarian? Following Up:

Cutting out meat is a great first step anyone can make to improve their health.

Want to go farther? Why Vegetarian? Try: Why Frugivore?

Learn what foods are healthy to eat here.

Why Vegetarian? Because It just makes sense.

Why Vegetarian? Sources:

1) Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Ascherio A, Willett WC. Intake of fat, meat, and fiber in relation to risk of colon cancer in men. Cancer Res 1994;54:2390-7.
2) Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, Speizer FE. Relation of meat, fat, and fiber intake to the risk of colon cancer in a prospective study among women. N Engl J Med 1990;323:1664-72.
3) Thorogood M, Mann J, Appleby P, McPherson K. Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. Br Med J 1994;308:1667-70.
4) Chang-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R, Eilber U. Mortality patterns of German vegetarians after 11 years of follow-up. Epidemiology 1992;3:395-401.
5) Chang-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R. Dietary and lifestyle determinants of mortality among German vegetarians. Int J Epidemiol 1993;22:228-36.
6) Malter M, Schriever G, Eilber U. Natural killer cells, vitamins, and other blood components of vegetarian and omnivorous men. Nutr Cancer 1989;12:271-8.
7) Campbell, TC, Chen J. Diet and chronic degenerative diseases: Perspectives from China. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:1153S–61S.
8) Trichopoulos D, Yen S, Brown J, Cole P, MacMahon B. The effect of westernization on urine estrogens, frequency of ovulation, and breast cancer risks: a study in ethnic Chinese women in the Orient and in the U.S.A. Cancer 1984;53:187-92.
9) Harper's Biochemistry 24th edition. Page 280.
10) Steinmetz, K.A., and J.D. Potter. 1996. Vegetables, fruit and cancer prevention: a review. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 96: 1027-39
11) Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Amer Diet Assoc 2003 Jun;103(6):748-65.
12) Rouse IL, Beilin LJ. Editorial review: vegetarian diet and blood pressure. J Hypertension 1984;2:231-40.
13) Lindahl O, Lindwall L, Spangberg A, Stenram A, Ockerman PA. A vegan regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of hypertension. Br J Nutr 1984;52:11-20.
14) Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Hypertension and blood pressure among meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans in EPIC-Oxford. Public Health Nutr 2002 Oct;5(5):645-54.
15) Mazess, R.B., and W. Mather. 1977. Bone mineral content of North Alaskan Eskimos. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 27 (9): 916-25; Pawson, I.G. 1974. Radiographic determination of ecessive bone loss in Alaskan Eskimos. Hum. Biol. 46 (3):369-80.
16) Tucker, K.L., M.T. Hannan, H. Chen, et al. 1999. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater mineral density in elderly men and women. Am. J. Clin. 69 (4):727-35; New, S.A., S.P. Robins, M.k. Campbell, et all. 2000.
17) Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health? Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71 (1): 142-51
18) Weaver, C.M., and K.L. Plawecki. 1994. Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59 (supp.): 1238-41S.
Campbell, T. Colin. The China Study.  Dallas: Benbella Books, 2004. Pg 80.
Earth Talk, "The Environmental Beef With Meat," The Bay Weekly, 6 Jan. 2005.
Hegsted DM. Calcium and osteoporosis. J Nutr 1986;116:2316-9.
Tucker, Katherine L. Sharron Rich, Irwin Rosenberg, Paul Jacques, Gerard Dallal, Peter WF Wilson and Jacob Selhub. Plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations relate to intake source in the Framingham Offspring Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 2, 514-522, February 2000

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