The Omnivorous Diet and its Consequences – Beyond the Meat
The debate between vegetarians/vegans and the meat-eating majority seems to be an unending one, without any real results, just further confusion that makes it difficult for outsiders (an outsider being anyone that hasn’t put much thought into the consequences of their diet – be they health or environmental). While this certainly won’t end in this writing, perhaps some perspective will become more accessible to readers beyond the typical rhetoric of “using animals for food and products is wrong.”
There are a lot of benefits to adopting a strict diet. Athletes in weight-specific sports such as wrestling or Judo can attest that picking and choosing specific “do’s” and “don’ts” can make maintaining weight and stringent nutrient requirements much easier. This is possibly why vegetarians and vegans tend to be thinner, the latter portion of that statement iterated throughout thousands of essays and blogs. Adding to this, the tendency of a specific diet, such as the adoption of veganism, is inherently higher in “…dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C and E, iron and phytochemicals” but lower in “…calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain n3 (omega-3) fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B-12” (Winston J. Craig).
There is still a lot to be said about the reality of meat-eating and its effects on the body. There’s very little doubt given the obesity epidemic in the United States (over 35% of U.S. adults and growing) that the emphasis of animal fats in the average American’s diet most likely plays a part in this statistic, as well as the staggering rate of heart disease (responsible for +600,000 deaths each year in the U.S.). Quite disheartening, and it becomes harder and harder to deny that there is something to avoiding meat, though it doesn’t necessarily correlate to veganism = no obesity or heart problems, as there are plenty of vegans that eat terribly (fact: Fritos are vegan. More important fact: Fritos are not a diet).
Halfway through 2010 the UN urged a global move to a vegan diet in order to avoid worldwide hunger and fuel poverty. A dire consequence of a diet that engages in meat-eating is the resources required to maintain cattle farms, for example. As economic growth increases, there is an inherent rise in fuel consumption and agriculture. While a future wrapped in improvements in technology should aid significantly in conserving fossil fuels due to eliminating the need to commute, the same simply can’t be said of the land required to house cattle, the amount of water needed, and the greenhouse gas emissions that come with all of this.
Another question comes into focus: Do vegans needs to supplement their diet in order to survive? As noted earlier, there are several important nutrients that vegans tend to register low in, and it’s not uncommon for vegan-approved mock meats to be fortified with B12 to account for this deficiency, but there are many methods of obtaining the required nutrients – in fact, in 2003 The American Dietetic Association stated that “well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”
There are consequences to one’s dietary decisions that go beyond one’s health, and as it stands there are many conclusions that stand inconclusive despite what has been perceived as “fact” or “fiction.” It’s an ever-changing perception as mankind’s understanding of science and science’s application to this era’s situation is largely dynamic. It is important for the layman to understand this lack of understanding as he or she makes life-altering decisions that affect their health and the what may contribute to a positive or negative state of being for mankind on the whole.
Photo of Amazon deforestation for cattle farms from: http://www.commercialpressuresonland.org/