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
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
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
40 percent less likely to develop cancer than a meat eater (3, 4,
In 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
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
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
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
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."
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).
Perhaps William C. Roberts MD, author of 1300
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.
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.
Because Meat Ages You And Plants Keep You Young
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,
Because You Can Get Everything Your Body Needs From
There isn't a single
nutrient required for our health that can't easily be obtained from
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).
but it's clear that a lack of animal foods does not
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).
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
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
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.
Because We're Destroying Our Planet
The 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
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
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
Why vegetarian? Because it's the right thing to do.
Cutting out meat is a great first step anyone can make to improve their
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