By Dr Rachna Pande
The term, “vegetarian food”, implies the food which originates from vegetable sources. It includes vegetables, fruits, grains and cereals, milk and milk products.
What one likes to eat is purely an individual decision, but there are many advantages of vegetarian food. Considering these advantages, many ancient sects and religions had linked “vegetarianism” to religion and prohibited use of meat. Currently, the health hazards of eating meat products have been proved scientifically, and vegetarianism is being promoted.
Vegetarian food has high fiber content and is easily digested. It is more suitable for the digestive system of man. Green vegetables and fresh fruits provide fiber and stimulate digestion. Citrus fruits provide fiber as well as vitamin C, which help in improving the resistance of the body against infections.
Guavas are rich in Vitamin C. Papaya has digestive enzymes and stimulates the process of digestion. One taking these fruits regularly would never suffer from constipation and related problems.
Many fresh vegetables and fruits are rich in anti-oxidants. These prevent wear and tear of body tissues and enhance immunity, i.e. the ability to fight diseases.
All the necessary nutrients can be obtained easily from vegetarian food. Green leafy vegetables provide fiber, iron and vitamins, particularly A.
Bananas supply calories and also other nutrients and potassium. Grains like wheat supply vitamins B-complex and E, along with fiber.
All types of beans like French beans, country beans, soya beans, e.t.c. have proteins. Soya, cheese and yoghurt supply vitamin B12, which strengthens the nerves. Pumpkins, beet root, passion fruit, are good sources of iron.
Pumpkin and papaya seeds, pineapple fruit help in destroying intestinal worms. Thus, there are several advantages of vegetarian diet.
Meat products have a high cholesterol and lipid content, which is bad for the heart. Eggs are protein rich but also have very high cholesterol content.
Other meat products, except fish, are also very high in cholesterol and lipids. They contribute to obesity, heart diseases and diabetes. Red meat is a risk factor for gout, a condition manifesting as painful big toe.
Eating red meat and poultry meat puts load on the urinary system and is a risk factor for stones of the kidney and urinary system. Red and processed meats have been considered as risk factors for cancer of the colon.
Many people argue that milk should be avoided if one is vegetarian as that also comes from an animal, eg. Goat or cow. Milk is provided by nature to sustain all living beings in their growing years. When the human mother weans the child from breast, it is the milk of cow or goat that helps the child to sustain and grow. Even adults obtain nourishment from it. But the animal is not slaughtered for it. Whereas any non-vegetarian food can be obtained only if an animal dies or is killed. If one thinks of the agony of the animal while dying, maybe he/she will not feel like touching meat in future. No such ethical problem ever arises with vegetarian food.
Milk is by all means a vegetarian food. Milk and milk products supply various nutrients to body like calcium, fat and digestive proteins.
From 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. Consuming the meat of some sick animal can make one sick.
Some argue that meat is necessary to provide energy. One has to look out and observe in nature. Heavy but energetic animals like elephants are pure vegetarians.
Lean and swift animals like giraffes and horses do not eat meat or meat products. One of the swiftest tiny creatures a rabbit also consumes carrots and cabbage, but no meat.
The disadvantages of meat are more than the nutrition it provides.
It is not necessary to stop taking meat altogether, if one is fond of it. But for obtaining good health and maintaining it, it is advisable to include vegetables and fruits in diet. One’s diet should not contain only meat.
Dr Rachna Pande, Specialist internal medicine. E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
- SOURCE: OoReporters
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