I was watching Desperate Housewives last Sunday… I rarely follow what the girls at Wisteria Lane are doing these days anymore, but I had the TV on as “background noise” and the show came up. I actually just learned this episode aired originally on October 22… see, I do not watch this… But you can read a recap of the episode here.
Apparently, Bree’s daughter, Danielle, came to visit Bree and her husband for a weekend after she has been away for a few years. Danielle visited with her new husband and her son, who is now 6 years old. When Bree offers to make a nice side dish to go with her beef roast, Danielle pops the news that the whole family is now VEGETARIAN.
Bree, being the controlling and over-criticizing mom she is, starts arguing about the decision based on nutritional aspects she thinks of the vegetarian diet. She’s concerned her grandson will not grow “big and strong” as other kids do. Then, when Danielle is not around, Bree starts to manipulate information to tell her 6-year old grandson how his mom used to eat hot dogs everyday and that hot dogs make little kids grow big and strong. Then she proceeds to give the kid a traditional meat hot dog to the kid unknowingly to his mom.
You know I do not like to preach and I am not criticizing Desperate Housewives… the show is just bringing to light the nightmare many vegetarian moms go through when they grew up with a omnivore/meat-eating family and now try to raise a vegetarian family. I have friends who are now vegetarian and are raising vegetarian kids and are afraid when they visit their grandparents who do not understand why they “became” vegetarians… as if becoming vegetarians means that you’re no longer yourself or that you’re now part of different species altogether.
However, the show is perpetuating the belief many people have that a vegetarian diet is LESS than a regular meat-based diet. And in many ways it is. It’s a diet with less saturated fats, less processed foods, less preservatives, less chemicals, less artificial ingredients, less sickness… In turn it’s a lifestyle with more health, more energy, more variety, more youth, more years added to your life.
I would like to recap here some of the advantages of Going Veggie… most of the information here I have gathered from articles distributed at our Yoga Center and some has been from several great articles I found from Vegetarian Times – one from back in 1999 and another from their website. But most of all, these are things I have experienced for myself… which in my “book”, it’s the best way to learn – by EXPERIENCING.
WHY GO VEGGIE??
1- You’ll live a lot longer. Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University. And a British study that tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years found that vegetarians were 40% less likely to die from cancer and 20% less likely to die from other diseases, during that time.
2- You’ll ward off heart diseases and cancer. Cardiovascular diseases are strongly related to diets rich in saturated fats and cholesterol from meat and dairy. And a study in The International Journal of Cancer concluded that red meat is strongly associated with breast cancer.
By keeping a vegetable-based diet, full of antioxidant nutrients, you protect your heart and arteries because produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Other studies suggest that a plant-based diet helps protect against prostate, colon and skin cancers because vegetarians’ immune systems are stronger and more effective in killing off tumor cells than meat eaters’.
3- You will save money. In these tough economic times, replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.
4- You’ll add color to your plate. Meat, chicken and fish tend to come in boring shades of brown and beige, but fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow. Disease-fighting phytochemicals are responsible for giving produce their rich, varied hues. So cooking by color is a good way to ensure you are eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that will boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.
5- You’ll very likely be slimmer. On average, vegetarians are more slender than meat eaters, and when we diet, we tend to keep the weight off up to seven years longer. That’s because diets that are higher in vegetable proteins are much lower in fat and calories. Vegetarians are also less likely to fall victim to weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
6- You’ll give your body a spring cleaning. Giving up meat and meat-products helps purge the body of toxins (pesticides, environmental pollutants, preservatives) that overload our systems and cause illness. When people begin formal detoxification programs, their first step is to replace meats and dairy products with fruits and vegetables and juices.
7- Your bones will be stronger and last longer. There’s this misconception that vegetarians are weak and undernourished. Questions I constantly get are “Where do you get your calcium?”, “Where do you get your protein?” Well, let me tell you something… the average person abuses the consumption of protein. These new fad diets have placed too much importance on protein instead of focusing on carbohydrates, which should account for 50% of your daily food intake.
Now, back to our bones… the average bone loss for a vegetarian woman at age 65 is 18%; for non-vegetarian women, it’s double that. Researchers attribute this to the consumption of excess protein, which interferes with the absorption and retention of calcium and actually prompts the body to excrete calcium, laying the ground for osteoporosis. Consuming excessive proteins, in both animal and dairy products, make the blood acidic, and to balance that condition, the body pulls calcium from bones. So rather if you want to have healthier bones, turn to dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and legumes, which, calorie for calorie, are superior sources of calcium without the damaging effects of too much protein.
8- You’ll be more “regular.” I know people do not like to talk about this, but if you eat and enjoy eating, you must also be open to talk about your regularity. Eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables means consuming insoluble fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber and takes about 3 days to fully digest. People who eat a vegetable-based diet tend to have fewer incidences of constipation, hemorrhoids and spastic colon.
9- You could help reduce famine in the world. Would you believe that right now, 80% of all the available farmland is used to raise cattle and animals for slaughter and that 70% of all grain produced in the world is used to feed animals raised for slaughter? It takes 15 pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. But if this grain were given directly to people, there’d be enough food to feed the entire planet.
Also, using land for animal agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef. Unbelievable, huh?
10- You’ll be a great role model for your kids or kids around you. Kids learn mostly by example and everything you do and say will have an effect on your kids’ beliefs when they become adults. If you start teaching your kids NOW how to live a healthier lifestyle, they’ll grow up to be healthier adults and in turn teach others their experience. Also, we will be creating a higher demand for vegetarian products and we’ll ensure these will continue to be available for generations to come.
11- Going vegetarian is very easy to do. Vegetarian cooking is simple and delicious – I hope I have demonstrated that here in this blog. Supermarkets now carry packaged foods like tofu hot dogs, veggie burgers and soy yogurt, milk and cheeses that help make the transition to a vegetarian lifestyle much easier. There’s greater availability of vegetarian options in food courts and restaurants, some which have added “veg-friendly” dishes to their menus. Even traditional fast food chains offer salads, veggie burritos and vegetarian pizza.
So contrary to popular belief, you do not need to eat meat to be healthy and strong. When done right and in a balanced way, a vegetarian diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes and non-saturated fats is the most intelligent option to live in sync with Mother Nature and to add productive years to our life.
Help me spread the word and educate all those “Bree’s” out there that it’s their choice if they want to continue to eat meat… but allow others who have already chosen a healthier lifestyle to stay their course. Time will continue to prove us right…