11.05.2012 - Health

Vegetarianism as a way of life: pros and cons

Humanity needs new medicine from the cultural degradation. It is actively looking for it, finding that in the alternative fuels, solar energy, in the Large Hadron Collider. Vegetarianism is also now seen as a panacea. Will it stand to these expectations remains to bee seen.


Constant desire to transform and improve – the characteristic features of modern society. Yes, we spend every day somewhere in a hurry, do not have time to do some things, we want to change for the better, though not always working hard enough for it. Self-improvement is an integral component of overall well-being. The modern world is actively promoting the long-standing practice of healthy nutrition, namely, vegetarianism. More and more people support these ideas on the way to longevity and well-being.

Vegetarianism – a way of life, a special power supply system, which is wholly or partly is the diet that eliminates animal products. Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, some of them also ignores the fish and seafood, dairy products and eggs (vegans). But regarding the use of honey vegetarians can not be determined. Many people, besides ignoring mentioned ingredients, refuse to buy products that are made on the basis of animal fats, such as glycerin and gelatin, do not wear clothes made of leather and fur, and do not buy products that have passed testing on animals.

Vegetarianism is gaining popularity in the modern world. Various reasons cause people to give up eating meat. Among them are ethical and aesthetic (the feeling of guilt and sympathy for animals), economic (vegetarian food is cheaper, can feed more people in the same unit area), recreation (such diet improves the condition of the body), the religious and ascetic (the desire to subjugate the body to the spirit by refusal of carnal pleasures).

Many celebrities have promoted vegetarianism and on personal example demonstrated its advantages. This “informal club” includes Pamela Anderson, Alicia Silverstone, Paul McCartney, Tommy Lee, Madonna and others. Together with the organization Peta they organize large-scale actions and popularize vegetarianism and humane treatment of animals.

Pythagorean diet

The word vegetarian is derived from the Latin words vegetabilis (vegetable) and vegetare (grow and develop.) Vegetus translates from Latin as a healthy, vigorous, full of energy.

When it comes to the origin of vegetarianism, it is necessary to go back to the days of our ancestors, who in ancient times lived on vegetable food, because the main occupation and guarantee full life was gathering. The reason for the transition of people to eat meat was, according to scientists, reducing the number of edible plants after the Ice Age. There was a hunt, and later cattle – people are omnivores. Vegetarianism has become a rare phenomenon, and maintained by the people associated with magic, rituals, different beliefs. The meat is often refused by monks and other clergy.

It is believed that vegetarianism is more characteristic of the inhabitants of East and South, but for the northern nations, where the climate is much colder, more meat diet is acceptable. One of the first countries where the tradition of vegetarian spread was Egypt. There is a 5.6 millennium BC, the priests did not use meat. As a special form of food, vegetarianism came to Europe from Asia, from yogis, Brahmans, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. It was quite common in ancient Greece, especially among philosophers and scientists.

In the future, vegetarianism has lost its position in Europe, according to the principles of limitation continued to live only a few monks. Again in the life of Europeans vegetable diet back in the Enlightenment, perhaps as a result of the Asian influence, and has spread to aristocratic circles.

Origin and development of modern vegetarianism occurred in England in the first half of XIX century. These ideas have been borrowed from India, where they got more popular and widespread. In 1842 the word “vegetarian” entered the lexicon of the English language thanks to the founders of the “British Vegetarian Society” before such a diet called the “Indian” or the “Pythagorean”. This society still exists and has about 80,000 members and publishes periodicals, pamphlets and books, has his own restaurant (the menu is, of course, completely vegetarian).

There are some cases where the spread of vegetarianism in the country has been associated with some outstanding individual who has promoted this way of life. In Denmark, it was a famous philosopher Martinez, Sweden – Danev. In Russia, a major contribution to the development of vegetarianism at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, did Leo Tolstoy. Despite the fact that the eminent writer has changed the way of eating only at the age of 50-60 years old, he could be interested by this many of his friends, as well as a vegetarian in 1908, Esperanto Union, which has offices in 33 countries.

For the modern history of Europe is characterized by numerous discussions and research papers on the theme of whether vegetarianism. The most common, they were 40-50 years of the twentieth century, but continued to appear until now, although more than once proved the usefulness of this method of supply.

No meat, no meat at all

Vegetarianism is divided into four main types, depending on the restrictions that are installed on the consumption of certain foods:

The strict vegetarianism (veganism) - does not allow the use of meat, fish, eggs, eggs and milk. Pythagoras said: “It is unacceptable is, those who have eyes.” Vegans eat only plant foods and ignore any animal products.

Lacto-vegetarians – allows the use of dairy products, thus providing the body with calcium.

Ovo-vegetarian diet - including foods of animal origin are allowed only eggs.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian - is permitted other than milk, more and eating eggs, ie the body is enriched with calcium and vitamin B12.

In addition to these there are also other types of diets that do not directly relate to vegetarianism, or are only partially:

  • New- vegetarianism – allows some eat fish and white meat of poultry.
  • Frutorianism – the basis of the diet are fruits and berries, as permitted cereals, nuts and tomatoes with eggplant.
  • Vitarianism – eating only raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Pesketarianism – the refusal of red meat but eating fish and seafood.
  • Polotarianism – the refusal of red meat, but eating birds.
  • Fleksitarianism – moderate consumption of rare meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
  • Freeganism – the use of animal products only if they are free.
  • Raw food diet – eating only raw foods, or those who have been short heat treatment.

Farewell, diabetes and gout …

Despite the long history of vegetarianism, the debate about its benefits do not stop today. Many scientists reject this way of eating as inferior, so that it can not fully ensure the rights necessary substances. In contrast, he cites numerous studies that have shown significant improvement in the health status of people who choose a vegetarian way of eating.

In this striking example is the study of «China Study», conducted under the direction of Colin Campbell, where the information was collected about the diet of about 6,500 of 2,400 regions in China and Taiwan. The results showed that a diet which is the basis of plant foods are generally healthier than the typical diet of residents of Western countries with a lot of animal products.

Also, scientists have repeatedly reported that the health of vegetarians on average, better than the people who continue to eat meat. They almost did not suffer from diseases such as hypertension, appendicitis, and urine acid diathesis, they do not have metabolic disorders, not often found cardiovascular disease, diabetes and gout occur much less frequently. In addition, vegetarians, according to scientists, live longer, they have low cholesterol and normal blood pressure. According to the researchers, the positive effect is due to the fact that:

  • Vegetable fibers are contained in the diet of vegetarians, promote feelings of satiety in a timely manner, remove from the gut of harmful substances, the prevention of atherosclerosis and cancer.
  • In fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins that protect against disease (vitamins C, D, folate, beta-carotene), as well as anticancer terpenoids.
  • In fruits and vegetables contain potassium, magnesium and alkaline equivalents that protect against disease.
  • Vegetarian diet contributes a useful ratio of saturated and unsaturated acids.
  • Volatile plant foods kill bacteria that produce toxins, and improve the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The absence of cholesterol in plant foods and the ability of some plant foods to reduce its concentration in the blood vessel contribute to cleaning.
  • Plant foods rich in carbohydrates, fatty acids, omega-6 and cellulose.

 …hello, anemia and hypertension? 

Reading about the benefits of vegetarianism, of course, want to believe in them, but no one is completely refuted the opinion of a number of disadvantages of such power. Scientists say that the denial of the flesh, as if he did not look humane, and how much benefit did not carry, yet has a certain risk. Vegetarians may not obtain or receive very small doses of vitamins are needed, and this can cause several diseases. Such components are calcium, protein, iron, saturated fat, omega-3, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin A, zinc and iodine. Everyone who is going to switch to vegetable diet, you need to take responsibility for the formation of their diet and pay attention to the following facts:

  • iron deficiency, which is better absorbed from animal products can lead to iron deficiency anemia;
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in fish, play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and hypertension;
  • consequence of a lack of vitamin C in food grains may be growth retardation in children, the lag in the development of their peers, the emergence of rickets, anemia and other diseases;
  • Vitamin B12 is necessary for normal blood circulation and efficient functioning of the nervous system;
  • lack of amino acids leads to a decrease in muscle mass, anemia and damage to bones;
  • insufficient amount of vitamin D causes brittle bones, hair and teeth;
  • the result of calcium deficiency may be osteoporosis and anemia.

To be or not to be?

So what do you do? How to eat better? Such questions are given thousands of people every day. Each of them finds its cause and its solution. Someone goes to the plant food, while others remained loyal to the meat. Well, this is the right choice of everyone, and we are free to do as it sees fit. We have the right to be what we are, is what we like and brings pleasure, but also do not forget about your own body, it is important to pay attention to what you need it.

Will it be better if the whole world goes to vegetarianism, clearly can not say no. Save it to our fauna? Do not destroy the flora? Or maybe it should remain as it was for centuries? I think all of these questions will give a response time. Now we can say only one thing – live in harmony with ourselves and with the outside world … and to pay respect to animals.

Specialist’s comment 

Svetlana Garkusha, cardiologist: “The proper observance of a vegetarian diet is beneficial to people of middle and old age, because they have slower metabolism and less digestible protein. For the young body is limited to the use of meat is undesirable, since it contains the necessary for its development of proteins and other nutrients. So go to this method of supply is better in middle age. It is then useful posts, during which limited the use of animal food. 

Replace animal products can, for example, vegetable crops such as corn, soy, beans, etc. But here there is another urgent problem – the presence of genetically modified foods today, safety effects are still being researched. There is evidence that they affect the human genotype. They have a marked influence on the endocrine and reproductive system. Hormonal disruptions affect the ability to get pregnant, so now more and more cases of infertility. We should eat food with their own beds, then we can talk about their unconditional security. The same products are sold in our supermarkets raise doubts about its quality. The use of genetically modified food brings us to the situation that prevailed in the U.S. with the problem of excess weight”.

Anastasia Karpenko