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October is Vegetarian Month!

Some of the most impactful reasons that you might consider becoming a vegetarian are selfish reasons. The rest are humane and environmental ones. Increasingly, people around the planet are becoming vegetarian, vegan or at the very least cutting back on the amount of meat and animal products that they consume. This is because of the positive information that is known about incorporating more plant food into our diets is becoming more widely known

One concern that people have raised in the past is about achieving all the needed nutrients if meat or animal products are not part of the human diet. These concerns have been de-bunked and nutritional experts agree that people can be extremely well-nourished with a plant based diet, and avoid some very negative health challenges that are linked to consuming meat and animal products. There are many options to eat healthily and deliciously and many cultures that focus on vegetable foods.

Learning how to cut back on meat, fish, dairy and other animal products will not only help you be healthier, it will save you money and help the planet heal.

Eating more plants, means that you will reduce the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke and cancer while also cutting exposure to many food-borne pathogens. Meat is laced with saturated fat, hormones and antibiotics, and pesticides because of the industry, and causes inflammation in the body. The statistics point to a reduction of 40 percent of some cancers among plant eaters. Some of this effect is because plants contain fiber and of course, meat and milk and eggs do not. Fiber helps clean the gut where many cancers originate and also help bind fat and cancer-causing bile and bile breakdown products in the gut, assisting the exit of such harmful agents.

Most Americans only consume about 12 grams of fiber per day whereas the recommended amount is considered to be around 35gms per day. Heart and blood vessel diseases, diabetes and obesity are preventable and the risk of these diseases can be lowered by following a healthy plant based diet, exercising and managing our stress levels. It is odd that it seems peculiar to suggest to many people to follow a healthy lifestyle, when it doesn’t seem odd to them to suggest that they take an extremely powerful harmful drug or have an invasive surgery performed to manage what can be managed well by simply following a natural health way of life.

Another oddity is that humans are the only animal on the face of the earth that consume milk as adults and worse yet, consume milk from other species.

Cow’s milk is just fine for baby cows, humans find that it causes constipation, intestinal gas, allergies, obesity, acne and other complaints. Further, if it is commercially produced it is likely full of cholesterol, antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and GMO. The fact is that 70 percent of the antibiotics used on the planet are fed to livestock, in order to keep them just healthy enough to get to the slaughterhouse or keep producing milk or eggs.

By going more toward a vegetarian life-style you will help feed the world’s hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops that are used currently to feed slaughter animals or food-production animals. You can feed 16 to 20 vegetarians with the same natural resources that it takes to fed a single meat eater.

Eating more plants or going vegetarian, conserves vital water supplies, fertile topsoil and other precious resources, such as irreplaceable ecosystems including rain-forests and wildlife habitats. It takes over 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef in comparison to 49 gallons to produce a pound of apples.

Fresh clean water is of course a non- renewable resource that we treat as though it was everlasting, and 75 percent of our topsoil has been depleted due to growing animals to feed people. It takes 500 years to replace one inch of topsoil — cutting down trees, destroying rain-forests and waterways to produce hamburger is short sighted and unconscionable.

You also help save animals from the inhumane treatment that they receive in the agribusiness production lines by going vegetarian.

You don’t have to look too far to find records of the abuse perpetrated unto animals in large industry style agricultural livestock production. Their lives are miserable and their deaths terror inducing. Anyone who loves animals might question how it is right to eat them.

Greenhouse gases are indisputably linked to animal agriculture and meat production. In 2006 the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization concluded that worldwide livestock farming practices generates 18 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions compared with 13 percent produced by all transportation methods combined. Our diet is cooking our planet as well as digging our own graves.

Many water systems are becoming toxic waste sites from the runoff from livestock production. The lagoons where the excrement from animals is stored often leeches into the soil, into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans impacting our drinking water or the use of beaches.

This also impacts the health of fish and seafood in these waters. Fishing as an industry is extremely wasteful as well. In the process of fishing for tuna, approximately 150 other species of fish, birds and turtles are also captured, killed and thrown back into the sea like so much garbage.

So many good reasons to go vegetarian or vegan, so few to continue to support an unsupportable system that harms everyone and everything.

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Dr. Jane Riley, EdD, is a certified personal trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, (808) 212-8119, www.janerileyfitness.com.

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