Improve Your Health by Skipping Meat

Studies by the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada show that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity than meat-eaters. Period. If you can do only one thing to improve your overall health, eat less meat.

I used to think that vegetarians were weird, confrontational hippies. I used to roll my eyes if I heard someone ask if there was meat in something, and my stomach churned at the thought of tofu. Who were they to judge my eating habits? I felt judged by them, so I judged right back. After I found out someone was a vegetarian, they suddenly appeared gaunt and frail to me.

I saw “Meet Your Meat” by accident. It was on a public access channel late at night. I was mortified. For those of you who haven’t seen it (or refuse to) it’s a collection of hidden-camera shots inside factory farming operations, and the violence is revolting. I get frustrated by people who refuse to watch the 10-minute video, “because they don’t want to see it.” It’s happening whether we see it or not.

Seeing that on TV awakened something inside me. I couldn’t give up meat, though. I like it too much! But I promised myself I would only buy cage-free eggs. I went on like that for over a year, enjoying all manner of meats and not thinking much of it.

Then I discovered Bruce Friedrich’s lecture, “Vegetarianism in a Nutshell.” Where “Meet”” takes only a few minutes to watch, “Nutshell,” took a few hours for me to fully digest. As I read the final paragraphs, I knew I was changed: I was a vegetarian!

Friedrich elaborates on five great reasons to skip the meat:

  1. Improve your health,
  2. Help the environment,
  3. Honor human rights,
  4. Stop cruelty to animals, and
  5. Improve animals rights.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the taste of meat. Sometimes I miss it, but my diet was acceptable only because I was ignorant of the far-reaching consequences of my choices. Even after seeing that video for the first time, I still turned a blind eye. It took me time and research to fully realize the importance of the choice I ended up making.

I’ve been a vegetarian since June of 2007. I have tried a few week-long stints as a vegan, but I have not maintained the discipline to make that work for me yet. Maybe on my anniversary.

FYI, I’m neither gaunt nor frail.

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