More and more people make their minds to become a vegetarian nowadays. Researches claim that every day more than 2,000 men and women become vegetarians. The reasons why people increase the curiosity in veganism and vegetarianism are varied, starting from improved diabetes and a better heart and finishing with lower rates of obesity. However, the main reasons of people becoming vegetarians are as follows:
1. Improve the overall health.
2. Environmental concerns.
3. Natural approaches to wellness.
4. Food-safety concerns.
5. Animal welfare.
6. Weight loss.
7. Weight maintenance.
Beneficial health effects are not the only reasons for a vegetarian diet being on the rise recently. Some people want to follow influential figures and celebrities, who announce their enthusiasm for the vegetarian diet. Others have to become one of the vegetarianism supporters. According to Alice G. Walton (2011), “There are many reasons people choose dietary restrictions – to promote good health, to fend off bad health, to help the environment, for ethical or religious reasons, and even purely out of habit or family history.” No matter the reason of the interest in vegan diets, it should be mentioned that vegetarianism is entering a mainstream. The number of vegetarians has doubled for the last three years. The vegetarian trend is growing; and the interest towards it has become higher than ever before.
However, the majority of Americans prefers meat or at least a mixed type of food consumption. Vegetarian.procon.org (2013) claims, “In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that Americans ate an average of 52.3 pounds of beef, 57.4 pounds of chicken, and 43.5 pounds of pork, per person. Vegetarians, about 5% of the U.S. population, do not eat meat (including poultry and seafood).” Both, proponents and opponents of vegetarianism are great in number. They deserve their food likes and dislikes to be fulfilled and respected.
In most cases, vegetarianism is regarded as a personal decision which is based on moral or ethical choices. There are several types of vegetarians. Higman (2011) stresses that
The vegetarians are typically divided into ‘vegans’ (whose diet is strictly plant-based), ‘lacto vegetarians’ (who consume dairy products but no eggs or flesh), ‘ova-lacto vegetarians’ (who add eggs), ‘pollo vegetarians’ (who eat birds but not mammals), and ‘pesco vegetarians’ (who eat seafood but not birds or mammals).” (1971)
It goes without saying that in order to preserve life humans will eat anything they can. It is archaeologically proved that humans have been eating meat for at least 2.3 million years. The history of vegetarianism in certain religions and cultures counts centuries. According to Karen Iacobbo & Michael Iacobbo (2006),
The oldest and truest meaning of vegetarian is a person who practices the philosophy of nonviolence towards animals; vegetarians, therefore, believe eating the flesh of animals is ethically wrong. Originally, the word vegetarian seems to have meant vegan: vegans are vegetarians who strive to express their philosophy through eating only foods from the plant kingdom. (xv)
It is common knowledge that the controversy about which is better - non-vegetarianism or vegetarianism – has always been a raging one. Vedic scriptures and many spiritual texts advocate certain principles like the laws of karma, which claim it right to be a vegetarian. Obviously, those people, not following these modes of living, will never become a vegetarian. Another important point of people being the vegetarian or non-vegetarian is their geographical location. There are areas full of animals and, at the same time, with the plant- deficiency. Consequently, people, who live in these areas, have to go for the kill and live off meat.
Having been long well-established in the East, vegetarianism in the United States is associated with the 1960s and 1970s. It is being represented in a form of a burgeoning vegetarian movement. Throughout their history, Americans were concerned and anxious about their food and the way they eat it. According to Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz (2010),
European colonists not only struggled at times to cultivate sufficient food for survival but also wrestled with food’s religious, cultural, and social meaning. Food functioned – then and now – as a way to help immigrants maintain connections with their pasts. Nonetheless, the diverse plant and animal life of the Americans also offered important contrasts to African, European, and Caribbean foodways and food practices. By the end of the 18th century, some colonists even viewed food as a means of forging a distinct American identity, as demonstrated by the famous boycotts against English goods, most notably tea. (xiii)
By the beginning of 19th century, the overall complex American relationship with food had been further complicated by rapid social, economic, and political changes of the period. The individual moral well-being and physical health have become tightly connected; hence, daily decisions about food have gained a greater significance. Orthodox and unorthodox medical professionals and social reformers warned the American society against the danger of tobacco, alcohol, and meat. Particularly, social reformers stressed that eating meat made men sexually aggressive and violent. This, in its turn, has led to different social problems. A widespread criticism of medical therapeutics and its poor state led to vegetarianism emergence in a number of social movements. Like other social movements against alcohol and tobacco, an early vegetarian movement aimed at the reduction of Americans’ daily meat consumption.
As mentioned above, at the beginning of their collaboration with the declining moral and physical health of Americans, early vegetarians aimed at reduction of meat consumption. Later on, their primary aim was changed into the total abstention from meat. The American Vegetarian Society of the 1850s made it their aim to promote physiological and moral benefits of a vegetarian diet. With the emergence of the American Vegetarian Society, an enduring trend in the history of the United States of America began. The social reform of prohibition as a major means of improvement of the U.S. declining physical and moral health was formed and supported.
New developments in the fields of social and medical sciences by the turn of the 20th century allowed vegetarianism proponents to bolster their calls for total meat abstention. In 1886, the national organization “The Vegetarian Society of America” was formed as a result of a strong public concern about the mass production of meat and food purity. At the same time, a great number of state and local societies of vegetarians emerged as well as dozens of meatless restaurants across the country. During the World War I and II, eating habits and food consumption were regarded as a symbol of patriotism. “Luxury” items like meat and restriction of family’s consumption of it, in particular by mothers and wives of soldiers, became a vital contribution to the nation’s war efforts. In the early 20th century, the concerns of Americans’ declining physical and moral health arose with a greater resonance.
In the late 1960s, a small minority of Americans adopted vegetarianism as a lifestyle. Consequently, nation’s concerns about the safety of the American mass food production renewed the public interest in the vegetarian diet and let the food revolution start. New theories about the rights of animals were formulated in the 1970s and 1980s. A number of publications made thousands of people from all over the world reconsider their attitude towards animals. As a result, numerous organizations promoting the rights of animals emerged inside and outside of the United States of America.
Frances Moore Lapp? published Diet for a Small Planet in 1971 and opened a new page in the history of American vegetarianism. This book was read by millions of people not only in America but also in other countries. Lapp?’s theory claimed that vegetarianism is the only way to stop the world hunger.
No doubt, vegetarianism as an eating habit and a lifestyle is on the rise nowadays. Some people strictly follow vegetarian diet; others prefer to combine vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. Still, the population of vegetarianism is the fact which is hard to argue about. Colin Spencer (1996) stresses, “Nothing is so illustrative of the popularity of the vegetarian idea than the publication of practical guides to its application - the vegetarian cookery books” (358). Most of modern families have these vegetarian cookery books at their disposal nowadays.
It goes without saying that a minor group of vegetarians in modern America perceive the surrounding world differently from other non-vegetarian population. So much beloved by meat-eating individuals, tasty hamburgers are seen by vegetarians as a part of a terrified and slaughtered cow. Most vegetarians, if they do not follow the fashion but obey their life meatless philosophy, strictly keep their food rules. Nowadays, the Internet is full of websites which offer a great number of benefits for those who decide to become vegetarian. These websites mostly stress on the improvement of health grounds. However, Vegetariantimes.com (n.d.) provides a reader with a wide spectrum of reasons why an individual should become the vegetarian. The reasons to go veg are:
1. You’ll ward off disease.
2. You’ll keep your weight down.
3. You’ll live longer.
4. You’ll build strong bones.
5. You’ll reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses.
6. You’ll ease the symptoms of menopause.
7. You’ll have more energy.
8. You’ll be more ‘regular.’
9. You’ll help reduce pollution.
10. You’ll avoid toxic chemicals.
11. You’ll help reduce famine.
12. You’ll spare animals.
13. You’ll save money.
14. Your dinner plate will be full of color. (“Why Go Veg?”)
When talking about a non-vegetarian diet, the supporters of it most likely pay much of attention to the physiological and nutrient misbalance and malnutrition as a result of vegetarianism. Vegetarians claim that their diet does not lead to protein malnutrition as it can meet protein requirements. However, it should be noted that the most efficient deliverer of protein is meat because humans’ and animals’ muscles have the identical components. As a result, eating meat is the easiest way to get a necessary nutrient. Besides, amino acids of proteins help form antibodies, build cells, repair tissue, and carry oxygen throughout the body. No doubt, there are other ways of getting protein but the most convenient protein source is meat. A single serving of most plant foods can hardly provide an adequate level of all essential amino acids. Besides, there are no vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12. Vitamin D may also be a problem. Mary Krane Derr (2010) claims that, “Vegetarians must pay particular attention to eating enough protein, iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12. Vegans need B12 supplements or B12-fortified plant foods to maintain their health, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group.”
Another stumbling block between vegetarians and non-vegetarians is the problem of the rights of animals. Vegetarians claim that humans have no rights to kill animals with the purpose to satisfy their hanger. Scientific studies have proved that animals have social and emotional connections. Besides, all warm-blooded animals feel pain, stress and fear. Millions of cows, pigs, and birds are killed each year to satisfy a dietary preference which is absolutely unnecessary according to vegetarians. On the contrary, their opponents say that researches have proved the fact that plants respond to threats and may feel pain as well. Non-vegetarians stress that, “Every organism on earth dies or is killed, at some point, so others organisms can live. There is nothing wrong with this cycle; it is how nature works” (“Pro & Con Arguments: "Should People Become Vegetarian?”).
While talking about vegetarianism advantages, it is said that this diet saves water resources and considerably contributes to the prevention of environmental pollution. Of course, humans need more water resources to produce beef or chicken, but water is also extremely needed for plants growing and productivity. Besides, vegetarians are proud of their diet to be money-saving, as vegetables cost much less then meat and fish. However, non-vegetarians are ready to argue about this advantage claiming that there are kinds and sorts of fruit and vegetables which price is much higher from those of non-vegetarian products.
Ward Nicholson in his article, “What Happens if Vegetarian Diets Are not Best for Everyone?” (1997) stresses that vegetarian diets do not aim at the health improvement most of all. Apparently, this diet is not the healthiest among all others. Consequently, there are other reasons of its existence and popularity, which are ethical ones:
Some, of course, believe the spiritual or ethical rationale that is their primary motivation for a vegetarian diet is in itself quite reason enough, while others find the wisdom of doing so very debatable. But if the diet does not work for some people, then that leaves vegetarian individuals--even those promoting just the ethical/environmental rationale--new questions the movement needs to look at that haven't been faced till now. (“What Happens if Vegetarian Diets Are not Best for Everyone?”)
A number of research studies have investigated all possible advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of lifestyles or diets. From these findings it is clear that the controversy between vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism has always existed and will always exist. Depending on the reasons, an individual will always leave it to a personal decision whether to become a vegetarian or not. At the same time, vegetarians and non-vegetarians will always stick to colors and argue with opponents.
Talking about advantages and disadvantages of a vegetarian diet, it should be mentioned that there is a wide range of pros and cons of both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. All of these points can be easily argued about by opponents. Though, most of them are scientifically proved and deserve respect and attention. However, it is upon an individual to decide whether he/she should or should not become a vegetarian or even a vegan. If one has decided to become the vegetarian, he/she should keep in mind that becoming this means changing not only eating habits but the entire life. Still, majority of experts find it the best option not to follow diets strictly, but do what one is capable of. If it is hard for a person to become the vegetarian at once, he/she should go on eating more fruit, plants, whole grains and, at the same time, reduce meat and dairy consumption. Doctors appeal not to follow the fashion but choose foods with attention and care. Thus, the result will have the best benefits for the personal health and the environment.
I am a writer on https://elitewritings.com/blog/analytical-essay-topics.html and read a lot of boos about vegetarian lifestyly but my personal attitude towards a vegetarian lifestyle is next to negative. It is quite possible that in the course of time I might resort to a vegetarian diet for some time in case of some health disorders. Still, I am strongly convinced that consuming a mixed diet (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) will bring the best health-wise benefits.