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:
- Improve your health,
- Help the environment,
- Honor human rights,
- Stop cruelty to animals, and
- 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.