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May 21, 2013

Why Become a Vegetarian? 3 Compelling Reasons for Older Adults

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.” Appropriately enough, Rebecca Dingle, a Food for Life Instructor through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, chose this quote to begin her presentation “Becoming a Vegetarian: It’s Easier Than You Think.”

The presentation for Kendal at Home members, which took place March 28 at the Mustard Seed Market & Café in Solon, outlined, in Dingle’s words, “the latest information on nutrition, research, and findings” to help older adults make more intelligent decisions about the foods they are consuming.

Research shows the world’'s healthiest diets are primarily comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables and other plant-based food sources like antioxidant-rich herbs and unprocessed soy. And according to the Vegetarian Times, vegetarian diets help ward off disease, keep weight down, build strong bones and reduce the risk of food-born illness.

But health concerns aren’'t the only reasons to become a vegetarian. In her presentation, Dingle outlined three other compelling reasons older adults should consider vegetarian diets:

  • Ethical Reasons – Many vegetarians begin their herbivorous journeys because of their concern for animals. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food in the U.S. every year. Some people who start their journey as vegetarians for animal ethical reasons eventually transition into vegan diets, which exclude meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients.
  • Environmental Reasons – According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for more than 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams. In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Kathy Freston, author of “Veganist,” shares two more startling statistics the world’'s meat production industry has on the environment: On average, it takes more than 10 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein and, if every American had one meat-free day per week, it would be the same as taking eight million cars off American roads in a year.
  • World Hunger Reasons – According to the Vegetarian Times, about 70 percent of all grain produced in the U.S. is fed to animals raised for slaughter. Livestock consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the American population. “If we took all the grains we fed animals to feed people,” Dingle said, “we could end hunger.”

Want to learn about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet? Visit our previous blog, “Kendal at Home Members Discover Benefits of Vegetarianism at Mustard Seed Market

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