This year we want to challenge everyone who makes a resolution to not only succeed in their resolution, but we want to challenge you to educate yourself on Vegetarianism and give it try. No, this is not a joke, its not April Fools! Going vegetarian may seem hard, and it is a personal choice, but many people refuse to try before they know anything about it. There are so many people who think they know what a vegetarian eats, but really they are uneducated on the subject. So, we are here to try to educate you.
There are a number of reasons to go vegetarian or vegan. Most people go vegetarian due to the animal cruelty that surrounds being a meat eater, others go vegetarian for health reasons, some for religious reasons, and some simply do not like the taste of meat. Whatever the reason, done right vegetarianism is the healthiest way to eat. Although some people try to go veggie and then go back to meat, most people who go veggie, never go back to eating meat again. In 2009, there was an estimated 6 to 8 million vegetarians in the US.
Lets first look at some numbers. In 2008 the USDA reported the following numbers, these are the amount of animals slaughtered for the year of 2008 for consumption in the US.
- Chickens: 8.3 Billion
- Turkeys: 296 Million
- Pigs: 117.6 Million
- Steers and Calves: 40.8 Million
- Rabbits: 2.4 Million
- Fish: 6.5 Billion
- Shellfish: 64 Billion
For a TOTAL of roughly 80 BILLION Animals
This of course does not include the millions of animals that die due to illness, disease, neglect, or abuse in factory farms. This is just the number of animals slaughtered for US consumption. Finding the number of animals killed for human consumption is easy. What is not easy to find is the data of how much of this meat is wasted. Go into any grocery store and you will find a large amount of meat in the butcher, seafood, and deli sections. To anyone that thinks about it, its obvious that all this meat is not sold. When you find super cheap deals, this is normally meats that are going bad, and the retailer needs to get rid of it quickly. But how much of it is actually thrown out. This data is not made available. What is available is the total amount of food waste. This includes all foods including grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and egg products, and meat. An estimated 100 Billion pounds of food waste is produced every year in the US alone.
Dangers of eating meat..
There are many dangers to eating meat. Many people refuse to believe this as truth, but it is. Here are just a few of these dangers...
- Eating large amounts of beef, pork, and chicken can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, cancer, and obesity. Most people think that pork is a very lean meat to eat, but the fact is most cuts of pork is higher in fat then all meats.
- Beef contains a large amount of Dioxin. Dioxin is the most toxic organic chemical known. (Pork and chicken also contain Dioxin, but not as much as beef does) Dioxin is linked to Cancer, endometroisis, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), reproduction system defects in children, chronic fatigue syndrome, immune system deficiency, and rare blood disorders. A single hamburger contains up to 100 pictogram's of Dioxin, 300 times the EPA's acceptable daily does for an adult.
- E. coli illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef. E. coli bacteria live in the intestines of healthy cattle and, although the number of organisms required to cause disease is not known, it is suspected to be very small. Meat becomes contaminated during slaughter, and organisms can be thoroughly mixed into beef when it is ground. Contaminated beef looks and smells normal.
- other dangers...Salmonella, Rotavirus, Giardia, Mad Cow Disease, cryrtoproidium, and a slew of parasites.
- Growth hormones and other additives
What are the side effects of consuming animal meat or products with these hormones?
- Dairy cow growth hormones are linked to cancer in humans. Several studies have linked high levels of residual hormones in Diary products to an increased risk of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer in humans.
- Growth hormones can cause early maturity in humans.
- Milk from treated dairy cows may have residual antibiotics. Cows treated with bST have a higher rate of udder infections which the farmer treats with antibiotics. The antibiotics do show up in that cow’s milk, and if the farmer does not allow a sufficient withdrawal period, the entire milk supply could become contaminated.
Although additives and preservatives are essential for food storage, they can give rise to certain health problems. They can cause different allergies and conditions such as hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Disorder in the some people who are sensitive to specific chemicals. The foods containing additives can cause asthma, hay fever and certain reactions such as rashes, vomiting, headache, tight chest, hives and worsening of eczema. Some of the known dangers of food additives and preservatives are as follows:
- Benzoates can trigger the allergies such as skin rashes and asthma as well as believed to be causing brain damage.
- Bromates destroy the nutrients in the foods. It can give rise to nausea and diarrhea.
- Butylates are responsible for high blood cholesterol levels as well as impaired liver and kidney function.
- Caffeine is a colorant and flavorant that has diuretic, stimulant properties. It can cause nervousness, heart palpitations and occasionally heart defects.
- Saccharin causes toxic reactions and allergic response, affecting skin, gastrointestinal tract and heart. It may also cause tumors and bladder cancer.
- Red Dye 40 is suspected to cause certain birth defects and possibly cancer.
- Mono and di-glycerides can cause birth defects, genetic changes and cancer.
- Caramel is a famous flavoring and coloring agent that can cause vitamin B6 deficiencies. It can cause certain genetic defects and even cancer.
- Sodium chloride can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack
In the United States 34% of adults and 17% of children are obese. This is a very serious problem. In 2008 Americans spent an estimated $147 billion dollars on treating obesity related ailments. Over 300,000 Americans die every year due to obesity. This is not to say vegetarians can not be obese. About 30% of vegetarians are obese. This proves that eating healthy portions and not overindulging is a big problem for all Americans.
There is a lot of misconceptions about vegetarianism.
- All vegetarians eat are vegetables.... This is far from the truth. Although vegetables are a main portion of most vegetarians diet, there are many "meat" replacements out there that are soy or veggie based. And if you want to take it a step further and go vegan, there are plenty of dairy and egg replacements too. Then you add breads, beans, nuts, rice.. there is tons of foods to eat. I can only speak for my family, but besides not having steak, we actually don't eat much different know then we did when we ate meat. We still have all of our favorite meals, they have just been changed a little.
- Vegetarians don't get enough Protein... This is something that comes up so often. Meat is not the only source of protein out there. There are so many things that contain protein, there is no way that it could be listed here. So I will refer you to the following video. Its silly, but true.
If you want more, here's another...
Since our family has gone vegetarian both Eric and I have not only lost some much needed weight, we also feel amazing. Our meals taste great and are filling, but we don't get that heavy lethargic feeling when we are done. When we have guest over for dinner, we make vegetarian and vegan meals for them, and most wouldn't notice a difference. Last year Eric's family was in town for the weekend of Linden's birthday. His nephew had no idea that he eat vegetarian and vegan the whole time he was here. He enjoyed everything I cooked.
- Vegetarians love Tofu and Soy Milk... Personally, we do not like Tofu. There are some Tofu products that we will eat, but for the most part, we do not eat Tofu. Of course many vegetarians, and non-vegetarians alike do eat tofu. But it is not required to be a vegetarian. Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, there are tons of milk substitutes out there. But, that doesn't mean all vegetarians drink or use them.
- Vegetarians can't eat at Restaurants... Although it is imposable to go to some restaurants, most of them have some sort of vegetarian option on the menu. The more you know what you can eat, the easier it becomes to eat out. Fast food can be challenging, but most fast food is junk anyway.
- Vegetarians have to take a lot of Vitamins and supplements....Vegetarians do not need to take anymore vitamins then a meat eater. Vegetarians that are eating a well balanced diet, do not even need vitamins.
Vegetarian and vegan products we love...
Boca has very yummy products. There ground crumbles are used just like ground "meat". There flame grilled burgers and their Chik'n patties are taste!
Morning Star Farms
From Morning Star farms we love their Viggie sausage links, a lot of their burgers, buffalo wings, Chik'n nuggets, the chik'n patty, the Hickory smoked riblets, and the crumbles.
Quorn ( Pronounced Corn)
There is nothing from Quorn that we have not liked!
These are just a few examples of Vegetarian/Vegan products. And the things you can do with them are endless.
Here are a few sites for Veggie/Vegan recipes...
International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
There are many more out there to find.
So here is your Challenge... Learn about vegetarianism and/or veganism and give it a try! Even if you just try a few meals a week, it would be wonderful. The point is to live a healthier lifestyle.
Need more reasons?
ARE YOU READY FOR THE CHALLENGE?