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Views of the Vegetarians

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
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There are a number of reasons why people are vegetarian – sometimes there are religious reasons, but for the purposes of this article we will look at the views of the people who have chosen to live a vegetarian lifestyle.

Being vegetarian can take on a variety of forms, although many vegetarians do not think people who eat chicken and fish to be vegetarian at all, although it is agreed that it is better than nothing in terms of the reasons why.

A ‘true’ definition of a vegetarian is someone that does not eat meat or fish, with some people also choosing to have no animal products in their diet at all.

Many meat eaters and indeed many vegetarians, both new and old, are often surprised how many ‘not at all meat looking’ contain animal products or by-products. For example, did you know that, until recent years, the humble Polo mint contained gelatine – a substance made from the boiled bones, skin and tendons of cattle? Polo’s are now suitable for vegetarians as, following the BSE crisis, many products wanted to reassure their customers that there were no ‘hidden’ animal products.

There are key reasons why people chose to go vegetarian.

Nutrition

Many people who chose a vegetarian lifestyle say they feel far healthier. This is mainly to do with an increase in fruit and vegetable intake, although some people believe that our bodies are not designed to handle the amount of meat a Western diet commonly eats. Indeed, eating high levels of red meat has been linked with some cancers, although small amounts of red meat in your diet is also considered beneficial.

In previous decades, it was a criticism of a vegetarian diet that it lacked certain vitamins, particularly the B vitamins, however, with increased awareness of our overall health and greater availability of targeting vitamin supplements, with personal responsibility this reason is growing ever less valid.

Stop Animal Cruelty

You do not have to be a free loving hippy to not want to support animal cruelty. There is so much information available about how animals are treated that it would be irresponsible to not play your part. For some people, this is means only buying local, responsibly reared meat and poultry, but for others they chose to not eat meat at all and therefore not perpetuate the awful situations in which some animals, especially those who are intensively reared, are killed.

Vegans, who do not eat any animal products at all, also say that processes such as milk production is cruel because cattle are reared purely for milk production and they are separated from their calves very quickly so they continue to make milk for humans to consume instead of their young.

Cost

There is also a very practical reason on top of all the ethical reasons for going vegetarian – it is far cheaper. Although cheap meat can be bought, the treatment of the animals behind the products you buy is terrible. Even if you buy imported fruit and vegetables, which is not the sensible choice as they will have travelled many food miles, you will still see a reduction in the cost of your shopping basket.

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