5 Reasons I Became a Vegetarian This Year
Okay, today’s only the ninth of January.
So I’ve only been a vegetarian for a little over a week, having made the decision on New Year’s eve. Christmas was one huge meat-fest, as my son and son-in-law tried to outdo each other in the kitchen. As I ate my last bite of steak, I wondered if I could actually do it. (I admit it, I really like steak!)
I thought long and hard before deciding to try eating a vegetarian diet. I have two daughters and a granddaughter who don’t eat meat. I considered how it would affect my husband and me as we shopped and fixed meals (he’s still eating meat). And then I made a short list of why I was considering this change.
Here are my top five reasons.
- But animals.
It’s been said: Animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends. It sounds corny, but it makes a lot of sense. Animals on factory farms today are treated inhumanely, and cruelty has no place in a civilized world. If we treated our pets like farm animals are treated, we would face legal charges. Why should it be different for animals raised for food? They are as intelligent and feel pain just as much as Fido and Kitty do. So reason number one was moral.
- Cancer prevention
Last year, I suffered from my third bout of bladder cancer. My most recent scan shows me free of cancer (for nine months now), and I want to keep it that way. Regularly eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is staunchly associated with a reduced risk of some cancers. Red meat and processed meat consumption is consistently associated with an increase in the risk of colorectal cancer. I don’t know if eating meat is a contributing factor in bladder cancer, but why risk it? Vegetarians are about 40% less likely to get cancer.
- Losing weight and keeping it off
Okay, so I haven’t been eating this way long enough to see a difference in my weight, but my daughter went vegan last July and has lost weight and kept it off. Another daughter has been a vegetarian for years now, and she looks great, too. On average, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index (a measure of body fat) than meat eaters.
- Longer, healthier life
A 12-year Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years. A vegetarian diet also strengthens the immune system and slows down the aging process. Additionally, a vegetarian diet can prevent and reverse certain chronic diseases so it makes sense that vegetarians have a longer life span!
- Avoid toxicity in food products
Contaminants such as hormones, herbicides and pesticides, and antibiotics can all be found in meat. Additionally, there are viruses, bacteria, and parasites like salmonella, trichinella and other worms, and toxoplasmosis parasites present in some meat. I’d like to avoid all that, wouldn’t you?
There are a slew of other reasons to go vegetarian. Did you know that raising cows for meat contributes to global warming? (I’m not sure all the results are in on global warming, so I don’t know exactly what I think about it.) The fact is, animals feel pain. And the way they are raised to become food for humans is simply inhumane.
So if you want to try eating vegetarian for any reason, here are some ways to help you get started.
Don’t know what to eat? Take a look at this three week vegan menu plan. Or download and print this vegan shopping list. You can download a vegetarian starter kit here. When you want to eat out, Happy Cow will help you find vegetarian options near you. You can also check out this link for more places to eat out, veggie-style. Don’t really want to give up your favorite foods? Try some vegan alternatives! If you’re still not convinced and want more, take a look at Ellen Degeneres’ list of movies that will help you decide if vegetarian eating is for you.
It doesn’t have to rock your world. Take your journey one day at a time. Like me. On day nine.