Have you ever wondered why people are vegetarian?
I am vegetarian and people ask me ‘Why’ all the time.
In many cultures, eating meat is a sign of wealth and an indication that an individual has evolved past the need to simply survive. However, as civilisation develops, there has been, and still is, a continuing growth in vegetarianism.
Why are people vegetarian? Below are some of the most cited reasons for becoming a vegetarian.
Health benefits of vegetarianism
Scientific research has linked vegetarianism to:
- Lower body mass index
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower rates of liver, colon, lung, and oesophagus cancer caused by eating non-lean red meat
By not eating meat, one might hope to gain the many benefits of being a vegetarian.
Avoidance of animal-to-human disease transmission
In recent years there have been many outbreaks of E-Coli, salmonella, BSE (mad cow disease), foot and mouth disease, and avian flu amongst other diseases. Currently in the US, it is estimated that up to one half of chicken meat in supermarkets is contaminated with salmonella. Consumption of meat has also been linked to increased rates of cancer, birth defects, diseases, and mutations in humans.
Economics of not eating meat
Meat is expensive. By not eating it, you can save yourself money.
Simply put, many people do not like the taste of meat. This is unfathomable to some people. However, bare in mind that vegetarians might find it unbelievable that meat eaters do like the taste of meat.
Ethics of killing and mistreating animals
It is well known that the treatment of animals in the meat industry is often far below what we would expect it to be. Many people are unhappy to eat animals that may have been treated poorly. With the spread of factory farming due to an increased demand for meat, it seems near impossible that animal welfare standards can be met on a mass scale. Even people who eat meat are often opting for free range meat to satisfy themselves that animals have been well looked after. There are also individuals who chose not to eat meat because they disagree with the dissociation between meat and animals and prefer not to eat flesh that has been slaughtered by another individual.
Meat has not always been a significant part of our diet and as such, it is not always readily accepted by the human body. It is commonly known that meat takes longer to digest that plant based matter; some people however, have a complete intolerance to meat and cannot eat it for medical reasons.
Many religions prohibit the consumption of animals for various reasons not discussed here.
As society develops, people start to feel that animals are no longer below us and that we should not eat them. Not only that, but it is inherently dangerous to our species survival if we continue to eat them due to the shortage of food that eating meat produces. This subject is not discussed in detail here, but if you would like a brief overview, there are countless documentaries, books, and websites on this subject matter. One fabulous documentary which touches on this subject matter is ‘Home.’ It is possible to watch the whole stunning Home documentary online for free.
These are not the only reasons that people are vegetarian, but they are some of the most common. Most people cite multiple reasons for being a vegetarian and some even choose to go one step further than vegetarianism. I myself, stop at vegetarianism. I have been a vegetarian by my own personal choice since I was seven years old. Why am I vegetarian? In short, because I do not need to eat meat. I feel that if pushed, I would put myself into the ‘evolution’ category. This is a subject for another day.
If you are interested in combining vegetarianism with travel, visit the vegetarian travel advice page.
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