Beyond the „Ism“: Understanding Vegetarianism, Veganism, & Any „Ism“ in Between

It is time to clear the air, clarify some misconceptions, and come to an understanding. Forget about what you thought you knew and open your mind beyond definitions, assumptions, unsure. Get beyond the ism, it is time to learn what exactly is vegetarianism or veganism and what can it do for your health?

First of all, lets talk about what vegetarian and veganism is not. It is not a life of deprivation, starvation, or grass eating. It is not a tree hugging, no hygiene, and excess body hair way of life – unless you choose to take that path. Some believe a vegan lifestyle to be strange, faddish, or difficult, but in all reality, a vegan diet is recognized by many to be rewarding, energizing, and extremely healthy. Next, lets break them down a little. A vegetarian is someone who does not consume animal meat (i.e. pork, beef, chicken, turkey, etc.). However, they will eat dairy and eggs. Vegans do not consume any animal, animal byproducts (eggs, cheese, butter, milk, honey) or any processed foods containing animal byproducts (baked goods, pastas, etc.).

There are numerous reasons for choosing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, but the reason that reigns supreme are the many health benefits. According to research a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, like a vegan diet, is associated with decreased risk of cancer, disease, and illnesses. Eliminated animal products, which contain high amounts of saturated fats, calories, processed sugars, and replacing them with food rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, significantly increases the body’s ability to thrive and ward of diseases. A diet predominately consisting of fruits and vegetables, high in such nutrients, increases nutrient absorption, cell regeneration and reconstruction, healthier bowl movements, and boost protective enzymes insuring overall better health.

Eliminating animal and animal byproducts from one’s diet has been shown to reduce the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, macular degeneration, and type II diabetes. This could be due to several reasons. One most notable is preparing meat produces carcinogens and consuming prepared meat is consuming such byproducts. Carcinogens are well known to be the cause of such cancers and diseases. However, a diet full of fruits and vegetables shows increased amounts of disease-preventing vitamins A, D, C, and E, phytochemicals, potassium, phytosterols, flavonoids and polyunsaturated fats. All of which, according to research, reduce risk of diseases and has been shown to reverse some.

Physical benefits associated with a vegan lifestyle are lower body weight and weight loss, increased energy, longer life expectancy, lower BMI (body mass index), reduced allergies, and healthier hair and skin. A vegan on average consumes fewer calories and less saturated fat than a nonvegan. Removing dairy alone significantly improves health because humans do not possess the enzyme necessary to breakdown dairy sugar known as lactate causing allergic reactions, illnesses, and possibly some diseases. Not to mention, cow’s milk is designed to grow a calf into a thousand pound cow. What do you think it does for a human? It grows an average sized human into an overweight one.

Evidence has shown a diet rich in whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes provides protection from potential chronic diseases. So before you reach for that glass of milk, hamburger, or omelet, ask yourself this one question. Is it worth all the risks?

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