Why Vegetarian? Consider it!

Why Vegetarian? Consider it!As World Meatless Day falls on Nov 25, it’s appropriate that we review our eating habits, and reconsider the role of vegetables in our diet.

In the booklet, Why Vegetarian? A Beginner’s Guide, produced by the Malaysian Vegetarian Society in the late 90s, the society’s first president, Sona Zakariya, voiced her hope that one day, instead of people asking, “Why are you a vegetarian?”, the question would instead be, “So how do you become a vegetarian?”

We often are bombarded by messages and advice telling us to “quit smoking”, “lessen sugar intake” and “cut down on fatty foods”. Some habits die hard, others die even harder. But habits can be broken, what more in human beings who are the most adaptable creatures on the planet.

According to Dr P. Vythilingam, current president of the Malaysian Vegetarian Society, there are more than one billion vegetarians in the world today, with about one million in Malaysia. And the numbers continue to grow, which should be proof enough that human beings can and do survive on a non-meat diet.

Dr Vythilingam pointed to industrial farming practices that indirectly leads to the health problems faced by non-vegetarians – how the animals are bred and slaughtered, and the meat produced.

“There are a lot of antibiotics pumped into the animals (to keep them healthy in otherwise harsh living conditions),” he said. “There are the pesticides and DDT sprayed on the corn used for feeding livestock. And chickens, to make them grow faster, they are injected with hormones. This is why some people have hormone-related cancers.”

Prof Nick Day of the University Of Cambridge and the European Prospective Study Into Cancer stated that there are 40% fewer cancers among vegetarians compared to the general population.

“It’s never too late to start a vegetarian diet,” advised Dr Vythilingam. “Human beings are the only ones on earth who can adapt to anything. You can’t give a cow a piece of chicken and condition the cow to eat it. And you don’t give grass to a tiger. But human beings can be ‘conditioned’.”

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