By Priyanka Menon A student (Atlanta GA, USA)
Importance of vegetarianism
1. 3 major points: health, animal cruelty, and connection to Vedas
Health: Reason 1-reduces several chronic illnesses (cancer, heart problems)
Reason 2-get abundant fiber and vitamins
Reason 3-It allows you to live longer, have a glow, and feel more active
1- Morally wrong
2- Meat products are treated and produced horribly, which we could eat
3- Reduces demand for meat and the amount of animals slaughtered
Final connection to vedas
I’m sure that my friends before me have touched upon important points, hence I want to focus on what current scientific thinking says. In my own case, I used to eat meat in the past, and I stopped because my parents said it wasn’t healthy and I also thought it caused animal cruelty. However, preparing this talk has enlightened me that there is real science to support a plant based diet and that is what I would like to focus on today.
Dr Michael gregor md, renowned nutrition expert, very concisely lists in his book, how not to die, the major causes of death, the following.
So let’s analyze what are the top ten reasons for dying a premature death. (slide) Everyone of them can be prevented by a plant-based diet.But wait a minute- this is the 21st century, can’t we eat anything we want and pop a pill when we have problems? At least, That is what TV adds for drugs seems to suggest. Even though there’s tons of evidence supporting that a plant based diet can prevent, we’re taking the approach of trying to clean up. I mean, When there is water that has leaked all over the floor, instead of turning off the faucet we are mopping up the water. That’s the approach we’re taking guys. Prevention is so much cheaper than cure. But guess what? There’s no nutrition education. In medical schools.My mom told me that she hardly got any nutrition education in her 10 years of medical school. The one unifying diet that best prevents and treats many of these chronic diseases is a whole food plant based diet, which is ` as a regimen that encourages plant based foods and discourages meat, dairy, and eggs, and all refined and processed foods. This is the gist of my whole speech. So let’s look at some specific diseases-heart disease- number 1 killer . It’s not just the cholesterol load in animal fats but also bacterial toxins called endotoxins present in meats even when fully cooked,that get absorbed and end up in the arteries and cause inflammation.thjs inflammation causes the fat
To stick to the arteries and block them. Next is lung cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of it, but nitrite in meat has some of the same effects as nitrite in cigarette smoke. Vegetables like broccoli block the spread of lung cancer. It’s been shown in the lab that broccoli ehxcxtract kills lung cancer cells. People that eat a plant based diet have much less asthma and allergies. Let’s look at how vegetarianism works at the cell level(other paper)Through photosynthesis, the plant turns low energy electrons into high energy electrons using the sun’s energy. This way, the plant stores the sun’s energy. When you eat the plant, the electrons are delivered to your cell’s motochondria for energy. These electrons are then passed to Oxygen, which when the oxygen finally gets its hands on the electron, turning into a superoxide. Now let’s see the drama that goes on in the cell. The two players are the superoxide and the antioxidants. This superoxide knocks stuff over all around the cell, into your DNA. If the superoxide comes into contact with DNA, it could damage a person’s genes. Luckily, antioxidants come to the rescue and take away that electron from the superoxide. This process is called oxidative stress which can lead to aging and wrinkles. This can be slowed by intaking foods containing antioxidants- which are plentiful in fruits and vegetables. Eating antioxidant rich foods can prevent inflammation which is at the root of many diseases.
Now let’s look at diabetes. Diabetes is when the insulin is unable to work well to take the glucose into the cell to be burned. But the fat present in an animal diet prevents the insulin from working well. The glucose in plants cannot be easily absorbed because it is bound up with fiber. And why are people’s less obese on a plant based diet? Because u can eat a lot of plants and get vey little calories. So you feel full and you’re not eating all the time.
And moving on to the GI tract- when we talk about colon cancer- one thing jumps up- fiber, fiber fibe, you can get fiber only from A whole food plant based diet . There is 0 fiber in animal foods. Fiber also reduces heart disease, obesity, and stroke.
I could go on and on about the health benefits of a plant based diet, but my next major reason is animal cruelty.
.Not only are innocent creatures slaughtered and treated horribly by the meat industry, when eating them we are actually harming ourselves. Studies have shown that are bodies are NOT designed to eat other organisms for a means of surviving, which has actually been the cause for many of the diseases we have today. For example, one of our family friends was who everyone thought was a healthy man. He exercised, was slim, and very happy. About two years ago he found out he had colon cancer, and the cause was most likely because of his heavy intake of red meat. He passed away about 6 months later. Furthermore, the meat industry is heavily corrupted. It hires people to twist the information and not tell you the entire truth. For example, guidelines have found that saturated fat contributes to heart disease. As a results, meat industries are trying to downplay how much saturated fat is in meat. They also say that some meat industries say that meat is “leaner” and better for you. and that meat provides the best proteins and nutrients . But eating, seeds, beans, nuts and legumes will provide just as much or more proteins. Finally, eating meat has a big influence on the environment. When land is used to raise animals, vegetation is lost and nutrients are gone from the soil. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists list meat eating as the 2nd biggest environmental hazard of the Earth. Animal agriculture produces 50% or more greenhouse gas emissions. Another startling fact is that a typical pig factory generates as much raw waste as a city with 12000 people. The meat and the dairy industry does so much processing with harmful chemicals that their products that end on the table are literally poisonous.
The Vedas, rig veda and yajur veda, have long supported vegetarianism. There are even shlokas in other texts like the Mahabharata, the Manu-samhita, and Valmeeki’s ramayana that discourage eating meat. For example in the Valmeeki Ramayana it says, “nam amsam raghava bhukte nacheva madhusevate, vanyam suvihitam nityam bhaktam snati panchamam” The literal translation is Rama does not take meat or honey, he partakes everyday of wild fruits and rice. NOn-vegitarianism violates the principle of ahimsa, or non-violence. It is directly explained in Patanjali’s yoga sutra, 2.3. Even though distorted translations have tried to justify meat eating, it is because of lack sanskrit knowledge.
To conclude I want to make another important point. While vegetarianism is generally healthy, there are many unhealthy vegetarians. So eating processed and refined vegetarian food and overcooked vegetables is no better. Do you need any more evidence? To really know the facts guys, I encourage you to watch the documentary Forks over Knives and to read the book How Not to die by dr. Michael Gregor. So for health reasons, environmental reasons, scriptural reasons, and our own conscience I hope we can all become true vegetarians.