Major Shift to Vegetarian Diet Needed for a Healthy Life and Mitigating Climate Change
The global community is facing some of the most monumental challenges that relate to the herculean task of mitigating climate change and mopping out enormous air and water pollution with which many nations of the world, including India, are suffering. A 2019 IPCC report states that non-animal sourced food, including meat, poultry, and seafood alone account for reducing eight gigatons of CO2 per year. Further, the World Cancer Research Fund has recommended that people around the world should reduce their intake of red meats to less than three portions per week, and all intake of processed meat should be eliminated. Today, when the dependence on allopathic medicines for curing ailments and diseases is causing a serious concern due to multi-drug resistance and their side effects, the natural system of a healthy vegetarian diet integrated with herbs and spices forms a more natural solution for creating high immunity and, thus, assuring good health and longevity. Be Vegetarian, Be Healthy.
The age-old saying that health is the real wealth and nothing else can buy health has a great meaning even today when we are part of a world that has empowered us with both economic prosperity and technological development. The world GDP, today, stands at 84.71 trillion US Dollars, with the US and China continuing to hold the first and second positions with their share of GDP of 19.4 trillion and 12.3 trillion US Dollars respectively. But leaving the economic prosperity apart, the global community is facing some of the most monumental challenges that relate to the herculean task of mitigating climate change and mopping out enormous air and water pollution with which many nations of the world, including India, are suffering. The 120 world leaders at the COP26 global summit on climate change pleaded to save the planet from the agony of global warming and recognized the emergency with which actions for achieving the goal of net-zero emissions by 2035 are to be achieved.
But then, apart from climate change, it is the food security for the seven billion-plus global community that assumes an important agenda for the nations around the world. Air and water are the fundamental needs of not only humans but all forms of life on planet Earth. So is the food for their survival. For a healthy life, we need good quality air (PM levels below 10 micrograms per cubic meter as mandated by WHO) and good quality potable water free from pathogens and heavy metals.
Green House Emissions from Meat Production
In view of the crisis of food security in many nations around the world, humans in developed, as well as rapidly developing economies, are submitting to meat-eating and grazing animals for food. As per the IPCC report 2019, “All efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and impact of global warming will fail unless further changes are made to global land use, agriculture, and human diets”. The IPCC report further states that “non-animal sourced food, including meat, poultry, and seafood alone account for reducing eight gigatons of CO2 per year”. That itself amounts to just over a 20% reduction in worldwide carbon dioxide emissions currently estimated at 38 gigatons per year. Naturally, it makes a great environmental protection sense to shift away from meat-based non-vegetarian diets.
Meat-Eating Habits and Deadly Diseases
For a long time, the meat-eating communities around the globe have maintained that for good health, meat-eating is a must. This, however, does not hold grounds as per the current scientific revelations on meat-eating. Studies led by Dr. Keren Papier, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, have shown that excessive consumption of red, as well as processed, meat leads to an increased likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. Subsequently, the World Cancer Research Fund has recommended that people around the world should reduce their intake of red meats to less than three portions per week, and all intake of processed meat should be eliminated. The Oxford study also concluded that those individuals who consume excessive amounts of meat are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits such as smoking and alcoholism and are also more likely to develop obesity, compared to those who consume little or no amounts of meat. Obesity further leads to an increased risk of heart attack and makes one vulnerable to cancer. In India, this trend is clearly visible as obesity is often associated with diabetes.
Although there are recent movements against reducing the amount of meat consumption by individuals who claim that there is little to no scientific evidence that supports the reduction of meat in our diets, a joint study conducted by Northwestern University in collaboration with Cornell University in 2020 links red and processed meat consumption with a slightly higher risk of heart disease and death. Not only was eating two servings of red meat, processed meat, or poultry per week linked to a 3 to 7 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, it was found that consumption of all red meat causes a 3 percent increase for all causes of death, as per a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Victor Zhong, Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell has stated in his study: “Modifying intake of these animal protein foods may be an important strategy to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death at a population level (JAMA Internal Medicine).” Norrina Allen, PhD Associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Epidemiology and Population Health has also gone ahead to state that “Red meat consumption also is consistently linked to other health problems like cancer (JAMA Internal Medicine).”
Water and Air Pollution Linked to Meat Production
It is also an acknowledged fact that one kilogram of meat production requires approximately twenty-five kilograms of dry feed for the animals which include corn and grains apart from consuming 16,700 litres of fresh water. Leaving apart this, no amount of argument could justify a civilized society to engage in avoidable cruelty against the innocent animals who have the same right to live their life as we, the humans. The kingdom of God is not built for humans alone, the animals and all the creatures have a right to live and enjoy the bliss and beauty of this beautiful world of diversity that makes planet Earth so unique for its sustenance of life.
Now, with the global call for action to achieve the seventeen sustainable development goals, it would be important to move towards a global society that is least cruel to animals and other creatures who look towards humans for support and sustenance of a healthy life.
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Vegetarian Diet for a Healthy Life
Even otherwise, a healthy human body requires food and nutrition akin to its metabolism, naturally designed for a vegetarian diet. The design of the teeth and the jaw of humans along with their metabolism is the testimony to the design of humans as vegetarians. Similarly, blessed animals with teeth and jaws akin to humans not only survive on plants and vegetables but maintain a healthy lifestyle free from ailments and diseases. These include cows, goats, horses, camels, and elephants among others who sustain their life on plant-based diets.
It goes without saying that as the human race advanced from a hunting society, that was confined to deep forests and jungles, to the plains on planet Earth, it had developed means and methods of agriculture to produce cereals, plants, herbs, fruits, and vegetables for itself in plenty to feed the vast population and sustain a healthy life without inflicting untold cruelty and suffering to the animals.
Today, when life-threatening health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, brain haemorrhage, respiratory diseases, and cancers are raising their head, it is high time for humanity to shift away from meat-eating to plant-based vegetarian diets that could be further supplemented by milk and dairy products as has been adopted by the vast sea of humanity in India from the early dawns of Vedic civilization. Shifting away from a meat-based diet to a plant and vegetable diet, besides creating a caring and compassionate society shall save Mother Earth from the agonies of threats of climate change and mounting levels of air and water pollution. It is understood that human life is to be lived with cheers and happiness without causing tears and suffering to other beings such as fellow humans and other creatures.
Vedic Vegetarian Diet and Spices Boost Immunity
A healthy vegetarian diet includes food preparation using cereals, beans, pulses and a large range of spices starting from curcumin in turmeric, capsaicin in green and red chilli, and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium in black pepper. The combination of these spices is antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-amoebic, anti-asthmatic, anti-diabetic, and immunomodulatory. The Indian spices further enriched by the addition of cumin, cardamon, and coriander make Indian vegetarian food not just healthy but fit to fight ailments, diseases, and viruses.
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A 2019 study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that all nutrients in animal proteins can also be found in plants and spices, therefore defining them as safe substitutes for red meat. Many of these different spices contain antioxidant properties which can fight inflammation and aid in digestion. Today, when the dependence on allopathic medicines for curing ailments and diseases is causing a serious concern due to multi-drug resistance and their side effects, the natural system of a healthy vegetarian diet integrated with herbs and spices forms a more natural solution for creating high immunity and, thus, assuring good health and longevity.
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