The term “vegetarian food”, implies the food which includes vegetables, fruits, grains and cereals, milk and milk products. This is in contrast to “non – vegetarian” food which consists of meat and meat products.
There are many advantages of vegetarian food over non vegetarian food. Considering these advantages, many ancient sects and religions linked “vegetarianism” to religion and prohibited use of meat.
Today, people all over the world are realizing the health hazards of meat products. Many celebrities proudly announce that from now henceforth, they have become pure vegetarians and shall not eat meat. Salad bars are much in vogue in the west, where people go to have salads as snacks.
Vegetarian food has high fibre content and is easily digested. It is more suitable for the alimentary system of man. Green vegetables and fruits like papaya provide much fibre and stimulate digestion.
One taking them regularly will never suffer from constipation and its related problems. In medieval times when food taken was mostly meat in cold countries, most of the people suffered from constipation.
So much so that it was considered fashionable among the French nobility to take laxatives regularly and discuss them at social events.
All the necessary nutrients can be obtained easily from vegetarian food. Green leafy vegetables provide fibre, iron and vitamins; particularly A. Carrots are rich in Vitamin A. Pumpkin is a very good source of iron.
Citrus fruits provide fibre and vitamin C. Guavas are a very rich source of vitamin C. Passion fruit is rich in iron. Bananas are considered as whole food for children.
They supply not only calories but also other nutrients. Grains like wheat supply vitamin B.complex and fibre. Beans have much protein, in fact soya bean has as much protein as meat. The list is endless.
Volumes can be written if one elaborates the nutritional value of various natural food items.
Meat and meat products have a high cholesterol and lipid content, which is bad for the heart. Some people though vegetarian, do eat eggs and consider it as vegetarian. Eggs though high in protein, also have very high cholesterol content.
It is therefore advised to avoid eggs or take only one maybe once in a week or fortnight. Other meat products, except fish are also very high in cholesterol and lipids. They contribute much to obesity, heart diseases and diabetes.
Gout, a painful condition of joints, is seen more in meat eaters, particularly those eating red meat. Eating more meat puts a bigger load on the urinary system and is a risk factor for stones of the kidney and urinary system. Red meat and processed meat also leads to high incidence of cancers of colon and rectum.
Milk is labelled by some persons as “non veg.” because it comes from an animal. But I would like to clarify, that milk is provided by nature to sustain all living beings in their growing years. When the human mother weans the child from breast milk, it is the milk of cow, goat or buffalo that helps the child to sustain and grow. No animal is killed for that purpose. Whereas any non vegetarian food can be obtained only if an animal dies or is killed.
Therefore milk is by all means a vegetarian food. It is well known that milk and milk products are rich in proteins and calcium. Curds are very useful for digestion.
Not only for the nutrition, but from a hygiene point of view also, vegetable products are superior. Raw or undercooked meat can lead to many dangerous diseases like toxoplasmosis, tape worm infestation, neurocysticercosis ( tape worm infestation of brain), botulinism , e.t.c. Also if the meat of some sick animal is consumed, it can make one sick.
I have come across arguments that meat is necessary to provide energy. One has to look out and see nature. Heavy but energetic animals like elephants and hippos are pure vegetarians.
Lean and swift animals like giraffes and horses do not eat meat or meat products. The disadvantages of meat are more than the nutrition it provides.
If while eating meat, a person thinks of the ingredients he is eating, he will think of flesh, blood and bone, which is not a very pleasant idea for food. On the other hand, no such ethical problem can ever arise with vegetarian food.
It is not necessary to stop eating meat altogether. But for obtaining good health and maintaining it, it is advisable to reduce intake of meat and meat products and supplement it with vegetables and other vegetarian products.
The author is a specialist in Internal Medicine
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