Lately, vegetarianism has been on the rise. There has always been a debate surrounding the vegetarian lifestyle, and mostly, people have been complacent about the diet. Vegetarians have many different reasons for shifting their lifestyle ranging from animal rights, health reasons, environmental concerns, or religion.
There are many types of vegetarians. The three most famous kinds of vegetarians are the classic vegetarians, vegans, and pescetarians. Vegetarians do not eat meat but have meat-based products. Of these, there are three subsections. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians eat both eggs and milk. Ovo vegetarians eat eggs but no milk. Lacto vegetarians drink milk but no eggs. Vegans are vegetarians who avoid meat and all animal products such as milk, eggs, honey, and gelatin. Pescetarians are vegetarians who eat fish but no other type of meat.
Vegetarians go vegetarian for many reasons; however, vegans usually go vegan because they are interested in animal rights or environmental issues that come from livestock. Pescetarians, just like vegetarians, go meatless for a variety of reasons.
The health aspect of vegetarianism is a broad spectrum and has no clear, definite answer. It is scientifically proven that vegetarians, on average, have lower cholesterol rates and lower blood pressure. It also lowers the risk of cancer and diabetes; however, this is not definite. Just like with meat-eaters, it all depends on the health choices of the person. A meal must be balanced and in moderation to be healthy. Just like with every other diet, the foods must be balanced. However, vegetarians tend to be more healthy because their meals are usually planned ahead. In addition, meat can give a lot of added cholesterol which is why doctors suggest eating small amounts of red meat. They suggest eating meat about the size of a person’s palm in one day. Many people tend to consume more than the recommended serving, which can lead to added cholesterol. Cholesterol is good in moderation because it helps repair cells; however, too much can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Many people are concerned about the pain and suffering livestock go through before being slaughtered and eaten. Luckily, there are laws in place that prevent painful deaths for animals, such as the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter act. Unfortunately, livestock often suffers the most before the actual slaughtering. The animals are often kept in small spaces and treated with less than gentle hands. The layout of their homes frequently appears to be a long rectangular space, like the inside of a sable. Several rows of small pens are laid out in rows of two with space in between each group for space to walk through. The animals usually don’t move too much during their short lives, and weak babies are killed. However, not all of the meat industry uses these harsh techniques, and grocery stores display many animal-based products with the words “cage-free,” “cruelty-free,” and “free-range.” These terms are often used loosely to describe cruelty-free conditions, but the actual conditions are debatable. Some religions promote vegetarianism to minimalize pain for animals or because it is considered impure.
A less common yet equally important reason for going vegetarian is environmental reasons. Livestock puts a lot of carbon dioxide into the air. The livestock industry puts almost 64% of ammonia in the air and 40% of methane emissions in the world. The fish industry is also detrimental to ocean wildlife. By-catch is where fishermen accidentally catch other forms of wildlife such as sharks and dolphins when netting in large amounts of consumer-friendly fish like mackerel, tuna, and salmon. These forms of sea life often do not survive.
Vegetarianism is a big step. It can be difficult to switch to plant-based products, but with new kinds of fake meat, like Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat, many people are finding the transition easier. Deciding to become a vegetarian is a very personal decision, and not everyone is able to become one for health, religious, or financial reasons; however, the path is always open to trying. Converting to vegetarianism could help the animals on this planet and the environment.