Vegetarianism designates a set of different food practices united by the rigorous exclusion of the consumption of the meat of any animal. Being vegetarian is a choice that is made for the most disparate reasons, from health problems to ethical reasons, also passing through economic and environmental issues.
Let’s analyze them more in depth.
One of the strongest reasons, and also one of those that is most favored by public opinion, is the widespread idea that avoiding the consumption of meat cures tumors and decreases the risk of heart disease and problems. In reality, the exact opposite often happens. In fact, a meat-free diet has as its first evident result a disastrous lack of vitamin B12, which blocks the methylation processes necessary to stabilize DNA, RNA, proteins, produce neurotransmitters and detoxify the body; also causing megaloblastic anemia and, in extreme cases, damage to the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Following a clinical study by the University of Graz on 1320 subjects, it was concluded that vegetarians get sick more often and have a lower quality of life than carnivores. In total, scientists looked at 18 different chronic diseases, and compared to heavy meat eaters, vegetarians were hit hardest by 14 out of 18 diseases, which include: asthma, diabetes, migraines and osteoporosis. This study confirms the findings of a similar study from the University of Hildesheim: vegetarians are more frequently affected by psychological disorders, with twice the likelihood of suffering from anxiety or depression than heavy meat eaters (9.4% vs.4, 5%). This is not meant to mean that ‘meat eaters’ are free from disease, but simply indicates that choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet does not extend life.
We must also consider the enormous environmental disaster caused by the production of the meat that is brought to the table every day. In fact, it contributes heavily to deforestation, pollution of the atmosphere – thanks to the production of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide -, soil erosion and desertification, not to mention the game it plays in the drainage of water resources and the huge amount of livestock that is uselessly thrown away every year. All this is due to the so-called intensive farming, which every week shreds about a billion animals, including sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry. The problem, impossible to eliminate, would be easily reduced thanks to the introduction of organic farms, which would reduce the cost on the environment, at the price of reducing the quantity of meat produced: in fact, there is not enough grass on the planet to make such a large quantity of animals suitable for slaughter after just a few months of life.
As for the question we all ask ourselves, does being vegetarian really have such a strong impact on our wallets? Well it depends. Certainly, especially with the current crisis, fruit and vegetables cost less than meat and fish. Here, however, it is necessary to make the right considerations and separate the food produced by intensive farming or cultivation, from the organic one. ‘Intensive’ food costs on average 30% less than organic food, ie what a vegetarian eats; which, moreover, as already mentioned above, is more likely to suffer from heart disease and mental disorders and, consequently, represents a greater burden for the health system. It is therefore easy to understand that a vegetarian diet does not represent such a great gain from an economic point of view, but at the same time not such a great expense.
Before concluding, it is also appropriate to dispel the common rumor that believes man is not predisposed ‘by nature’ to the use of meat. Human beings are NOT herbivores. The cellulose and hemicellulose present in foods rich in fiber cannot hydrolyze in the human body, thus causing those disorders (flatulence, constipation, pain and abdominal swelling) related to the intake of the same foods containing these substances (fruits, vegetables and cereals). Furthermore, man has different types of teeth, including 12 molars, which grind food by exerting a pressure of about 85 kg / cm2. As you can easily understand, such pressure is indispensable for eating hard, solid foods, such as meat, but useless for fruit and vegetables. It is also true that the human being is NOT even carnivorous. In fact, the human organism cannot digest a large amount of animal proteins that spend too much time in the intestine.
All this to say that – excluding for obvious reasons the ethical issues, on which no one can afford any criticism – being a vegetarian is by no means the best choice that can be made. Neither is being carnivorous. Neither choice will lengthen our life or ensure a splendid future, without doctors and illnesses. The ideal would be, in fact, to follow a varied diet, rich in vegetables and with a limited consumption of meat, such as the Mediterranean diet.
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