Vegetarianism needs some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

4 Apr

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.

go-veggieWHY 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…


12 Responses to “Vegetarianism needs some R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

  1. Liz April 10, 2009 at 5:27 am #

    Aren’t some people just soo ignorant? Although an omnivore myself, I am partial to a tasty vegetarian dish. Pity the writers of these programs couldn’t use their “art” to educate people instead of misguiding them. As someone who respects the vegetarian/vegan way of life (and those who choose it), I guess I’m in the “minority”. Would I be able to link this to my Facebook profile to help raise awareness?

    KFC – OF COURSE!!!

  2. Liz April 13, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    Thank you

  3. Mercedes April 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Thanks it made me feel more positive and proud that I am a vegetarian. 🙂

  4. Elvin April 24, 2009 at 8:22 am #

    While the show’s crime is not to offer a balanced view of vegetarianism, it portrays a simple reality. I think your list of pros is really convincing, especially the cattle feed issue. But advise people new to this lifestyle that the transition should be gradual (I have not eaten red meat in a while), and while your stress on the importance of carbs is true, it is not advisable for diabetics, as it turns to sugar during the digestion process. If you have suggestions for diabetics (like me), bring ’em on.

    Love your site,

  5. Jerri May 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    love your response! i am a vegetarian who married a very respectful carnivore. it would be so much nicer if people just let people eat what they want without judgment. what’s that thing our mothers always taught us, if you can’t say something nice…

  6. katie May 6, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    thank you so much for this! i’ve been vegetarian for quite some time now, and i’m STILL getting these comments from certain people. my family and friends have been pretty supportive, but there are still times when it’s really frustrating just trying to find something meatless to eat, whether at a restaurant or a family gathering. it shouldn’t be difficult to not eat animals! ohhhh america.

    if it’s alright with you, i might quote a few of your points in my blog…you’ve said what i’ve been thinking but haven’t been able to put into words!! 🙂

  7. camille May 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    Careful with the land use argument, though – not all land is equal, and there is plenty of land that is less efficient at growing crops than grazing – if the soil isn’t good or it’s rocky or has lousy drainage or any number of other reasons, your options are either to use it for grazing or to not use it at all!

    I don’t say this because I’m trying to argue for the other side, here, but just so that you don’t get hit with people who ARE out to disprove your points. It’s harder to disagree with you if you put up arguments that can’t easily be disputed, after all!

    KFC – Even though the figures included here are stats provided by reputable sources, I agree with your point… thanks for the observation.

  8. Amanda May 7, 2009 at 1:34 am #

    I have this argument at least once a week with my mother. She has said that I’m committing child abuse.

    Other reasons not to eat meat… Factory farming. That was the turning point for me. I read about how animals are factory farmed, and I was done. Also, cows produce how much greenhouse gas? The biggest reason though is that you will feel BETTER. I’d toyed with the idea for years but never thought I had the willpower. After two weeks, I was amazed at how I felt.

  9. Matt September 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    First of all, great post. Love the list of pros of vegetarianism. As a lifelong vegetarian, personally the reason is very different for me. It comes down to empathy. I just couldn’t bite into a piece of an animal without imagining it being exactly that, and imagining what it would feel like for that piece of my own body to be eaten, as well as all the various stages it goes through to get there (skinning, chopping, cooking etc.)

    Anyway, as for what you’re saying about the media. I don’t watch that show so I can’t really vouch for my next point, but it sounds to me from your description that this woman (the grandmother) was portrayed as obsessive, and almost maybe the comic relief of the episode. It seems to me like the producers of the show were in fact discrediting he point of view by having her behave in a ridiculous manner. I don’t know how the vegetarians in the show were portrayed, so I can’t compare, but isn’t that a possibility?

    As I said I’m vegetarian for very personal reasons so do not pay too much attention to this kind of thing in the media. But it would be great if you had a list of movies or TV shows where vegetarianism was promoted? If it helps, DC comics made Superman vegetarian when they ‘re-invented’ him in 2004. Can anyone add any other, maybe higher profile examples?


    KFC – Great idea Matt!!! Thanks a lot for your comment and I will indeed look into how vegetarianism is promoted in the media. Great topic for a future post. Keep visiting to read about the results…

  10. strickland September 28, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    i think this is bull you totally make people that eat meat look like fat asses! and thats not true!!

    • KarmaFree Cooking September 28, 2010 at 10:53 am #

      @Strickland – Sedentary behavior and bad eating habits, not just meat, are among the causes of the current obessity problem in America… vegetarianism done right, with a balanced mixture of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and plant-based proteins offers a legitimate alternative to the current eating habits that are crippling the health of our nations.

  11. amelieveronica May 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I really enjoyed this post, thank you. I’m faced with the dilemma of having to eat meat again though and it’s tough. Perhaps you could read my recent blog post and let me know your thoughts on my dilemma?

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