Wednesday, November 23, 2011
This Friday, Nov 25, is World Meatless Day also known as International Vegetarian Day.
According to Dr P. Vythilingam, current president of the Malaysian Vegetarian Society, there are more than one billion vegetarians in the world today, with about one million in Malaysia. And the numbers continue to grow, which should be proof enough that human beings can and do survive on a non-meat diet.
Research has shown that vegetarians are less at risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cancers, bowel disorders, gall and kidney stones and osteoporosis.
If not for health, other compelling reasons for us to go vegetarian would be for the sake of the environment and animal welfare. And most importantly, anatomically, humans are not equipped to handle consumption of meat.
Industrial farming practices do indirectly lead to the health problems faced by non-vegetarians in terms of how the animals are bred and slaughtered, and the meat produced, according to Dr Vythilingam.
The good doctor further pointed out that there are a lot of antibiotics pumped into the animals to keep them healthy in otherwise harsh living conditions. There are the pesticides and DDT sprayed on the corn used for feeding livestock. And to make chickens grow faster, they are injected with hormones which can cause hormone-related cancers.
And whenever a cow is taken for slaughter, it becomes stressed and this increases the adrenaline inside its body, and this, in turn, affects the person who consumes the meat.
Further stress is inflicted on the animals in the form of the cutting of a pig’s tail (to prevent them biting each other in crowded pens), or the “debeaking” of a chick, all done without anaesthesia.
“They say the amount of DDT that is in livestock feed is 13 times more than the DDT on vegetables,” said Dr Vythilingam. “That’s a very dangerous level.”
Many people believe that a vegetarian diet lacks certain nutrients and vitamins needed for balance and health. It need not be so. A vegetarian meal that contains grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables will ensure a balanced diet. Iron and calcium can be found in leafy greens. Almonds, chickpeas and soyabeans also contain calcium, while grains provide protein and fibre. Vitamin B12 is only needed in microscopic amounts, and most breads today are fortified with it.
On the other hand, a non-vegetarian diet contains more fats and cholesterol. The fact is, because the stomach has to work harder to digest meat, people often feel tired after a non-vegetarian meal.
Non-vegetarians are also exposed to preservatives like nitrites and nitrates which are carcinogens. Animal diseases including mad cow disease, Japanese encephalitis, bird flu are also hazards to contend with which there are no such things in vegetables.
Let's take a look at the movement in the US and what people are doing.
Meatless Monday – Every Week, go totally meatless on Monday – an international campaign that encourages people to cut out meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment. MeatlessMonday.com offers weekly meat-free recipes, articles, tips and news. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The program follows the nutrition guidelines developed by the USDA.
- The Star.. Greens for Life
- Meatless Monday