A Healthy Option?

Herbivore or carnivore.  Which are you?  An herbivore is an animal that feeds on grass and other plants.  Animals that are herbivores include people, elephants, deer, cattle, rhinoceros, bison, horses, sheep, hippos, and wildebeest.  People who are herbivores are generally called vegetarians.  Or crazy!

 A carnivore is an animal that eats flesh, or meat.  A carnivore includes people, dogs, cats, bears, seals, and weasels.

What Got This Started

What brought this topic to my attention is the other day when I was in the dentist’s office and somehow it came up that I am a vegetarian.  The hygienist asked me how I got my protein.  I haven’t given that question much thought as I have followed this regimen for seven plus decades…and still struggle to keep my weight down!

Maybe the assumption to the hygienist’s question is that we must have meat in our diet to have adequate protein, because meat is the best source of protein.  But is it really?  Where do cows get their protein?  Are they born with it?  No.  They get it from the same sources available to you and me: Plants!  Cows are vegetarians!

But Why Be A Vegetarian?

Being a vegetarian is pregnant with benefits.  A plant-based diet has no fear of too much fat, thus leading to weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health problems, according to webmd.com.  A vegetarian diet also reduces the risk of diseases that can be found in animals.

Webmd.com states, “veggies can give you all [the protein] you need as long as you eat different kinds and plenty of them.”  Eating only one kind of veggie would get pretty boring anyway!  If interested, you may go to webmd.com for suggestions of many vegetarian meals.

Scores of vegetarian receipts can be found here.

What About Protein?

The question of adequate protein in our diet is not an insignificant one.  Our bodies need protein to build and maintain muscles and other organs, and to deliver oxygen to cells throughout our bodies.  We also need protein to keep our immune system systems working efficiently.  

I also believe a vegetarian diet is a much more sustainable of our natural resources than is the diet of carnivores.  Consider how many millions of acres are used to graze cattle.  Consider also how many millions of acres are used to raise grain crops to feed cattle when those crops could be used to feed hungry people.

Comparing The Two Approaches

For example, according to the United States Government, it takes 1.5 to 2 acres of land to feed a cow calf pair for 12 months.  Two acres is equal to 87,120 square feet.  Conversely, according to Best Pick Reports, it takes about 200 square feet per person to feed a family of 4 for 12 months.  Then, an average family of four would need a garden of about eight-hundred square feet to feed a family of four for a year.

My wife, Dianne, and I plant a garden every year of 12 4X4 boxes (16 square feet each) for a total of 192 square feet of garden.  We enjoy fresh produce all summer long and have enough to can an average of 100 quarts to enjoy and share the rest of the year.  Yes, we still do regular grocery shopping, but it is really good to enjoy the fruits of our own labor.

It is true that weeding and watering do become tedious, but we find the rewards to be quite worth the efforts.

If the same acreage around the world were used to raise food for human consumption rather than beef, et cetera, many more people could be eating well.  Of course, adequate and nutritious food supply and distribution is a very complex problem, but vegetarians are good contributors to a solution.  Almost 9 million people on this planet die from starvation every year, according to The World Counts 

While some places in the world offer little opportunity for vegetarians, most places in the Unites States provide plenty of choices to find a rich and varied cornucopia of choices from which to choose for a rich and healthy diet of plant food.

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