Since the beginning of time, human beings have been preoccupied with the notion of immortality. Achilles, the Greek warrior, was dipped into the River Styx as an infant so that he might be invincible in battle. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon headed an exploratory expedition in search of a fountain of youth, a spring rumored to have the ability to restore health and prevent aging. Even today women and men alike spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on products that they believe can reduce (or even reverse!) the effects of aging: vitamins, supplements, anti-aging pills. America is one of the leading nations in the research for new techniques to promote general health and longevity. However, in strong contrast, studies show that currently sixty percent of Americans are overweight. In addition, our rates of death by cancer and heart disease are sky high. Because these and other related illnesses have been linked to the consumption of meat, it is time that Americans follow suit of more health-conscious nations and realize the numerous benefits of a meatless diet.
People often react differently when confronted with the idea of a meatless or vegetarian diet. How do you get your protein? they want to know. After all, protein is essential for proper muscle growth, and meat, especially red meat, is rich in protein. Unfortunately, red meat is also rich in saturated fats, the leading cause of coronary heart disease. Many Americans are unaware that there are indeed numerous protein-rich alternatives to meat: certain vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes such as pinto beans and lentils, and soy foods such as tofu and tempeh, a traditional Indonesian food. Protein can also be found in dairy products.
[...] Unfortunately, red meat is also in saturated fats, the leading cause of coronary heart disease. Many Americans are unaware that there are indeed numerous protein-rich alternatives to meat: certain vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes such as pinto beans and lentils, and soy foods such as tofu and tempeh, a traditional Indonesian food. Protein can also be found in dairy products. In fact, if you consume foods like pasta, vegetarian chili, bean burritos, stir-fries, peanut-butter sandwiches or even potato salad, you are already getting an adequate amount of protein. [...]
[...] even vegetarians get more protein than they really need” (Krizmanic 54). Consuming more than the recommended daily allowance of protein can deplete the calcium in ones bones and may be linked to health problems such as cancer and osteoporosis. People may also argue that a diet that lacks meat is also lacking in iron. While the iron found in meat is most easily absorbed, iron can also be found in a variety of plants: black beans, lentils, spinach, raisins, broccoli, and soybeans, to name a few. [...]
[...] The Japanese are one of the largest populations who consume very little meat in their diet. Concordantly, studies have shown that the Japanese live longer than any other collective race on the planet. Scientists believe that this is due in part to a relatively low-fat diet, consisting mainly of rice, a large variety of plant foods and vegetables, and an abundance of soy products: “approximately forty times more than Western intake” (Barret). In 1990, Dr. Walter Willet, who conducted a study of diet and colon cancer, said, "If you step back and look at the data, the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero." The National Academy of Science reported in 1983 that "people may be able to prevent many common cancers by eating less fatty meats and more vegetables and grain" (Howly). [...]
[...] Ingrid Newkirk, President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is even more optimistic, stating that, “vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to ten years longer than mean-eaters” (Newkirk). Castelli also states that it is undeniable that "vegetarians have the best diet. They have the lowest rate of coronary disease of any group in the country and they have a fraction of our heart attack rate and they have only 40% of our cancer rate" (Howly). These basic statistics alone should be enough to convince the nation as a whole of the cathartic benefits of embracing a vegetarian diet. [...]
[...] In fact, a 3-ounce serving of chicken breast contains 75 milligrams of cholesterol, whereas the same amount of ground beef contains only 72 (Lyman). To some meat eaters, this statistic is frightening, especially in a nation where high cholesterol is a growing hindrance. The cholesterol level in chicken is not the only health concern posed by poultry consumption, however. The unsanitary and disease-ridden environments in which chickens are generally farmed in America are raising eyebrows of even regular meat eaters. Investigation has revealed countless slaughterhouses throughout the nation in which the unsanitary conditions are almost indescribable. [...]
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