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  • Writer's pictureNeelakshi


Isn’t it ironic to see how vegans and vegetarians are stereotyped to shove their opinions in peoples’ faces, yet, many-a-times, meat eaters are quite opinionated themselves? It is common for people to get surprised when they find out that someone they know is ‘a vegan’ and vegans and vegetarians are often subjected to stereotypical statements like “vegans don’t eat real food” or “vegans are nutritionally weak”. Would you still eat meat if you knew that not only it is unethical and responsible for global pollution, but is also unhealthy? As startling as it may sound, many new studies have proven the health benefits of adhering to a starch-based or a vegan diet. After all, that is what our Palaeolithic ancestors ate!

Many non-vegetarians support their dietary choices based on the argument that ‘humans were designed to eat meat’. However, this fact is nothing but the complete opposite of the truth. In a research paper “Studying the human gut microbiota in the trans-omics era--focus on metagenomics and metabonomics” (2009) by The Department of Food Biosciences, The University of Reading, UK, it has been proven how the human body has been designed over a course of 2.8 million years to consume a fibre-based diet. This incredible research developed based on the study of ‘coprolite’ or fossilised human poop! The ancient humans were scavengers, eating left-over carcasses, but their main diet was composed of starch. It was found that the ancient humans’ intake of fibre was about 104g per day, whereas the average American today consumes only about 12-18g of fibre per day.

If you would look at the dental structure of a human being, you would find it most similar to that of herbivores (plant eaters) and frugivorous (fruits, nuts and vegetable eaters). The same research has also mentioned how a carnivore/omnivore’s stomach’s pH level is ‘1’, the highest acidic level, designed to digest meats and bones, whereas a human stomach’s pH level is much more alkaline, standing at ‘4’, designed to break down milder and more fibrous food items. Even if one is unaware of these scientific facts, one cannot turn a blind eye to common observations such as how the number of diabetics and people suffering from cancers have increased exponentially in the past century. Heart diseases are the leading cause of deaths all over the world and the root to any heart disease is cholesterol, something that exists in only animal products, completely absent in any plant products. Researchers have found that people who eat plant-based meals are between 25 and 50 percent less likely to get cancer, and each vegan spares more than 100 animals every year.

A rather not-so-well-known little island off the coast of Japan, ‘Okinawa’ has the world largest concentration of ‘centenarians’, people living above the age of 100. The traditional Okinawan diet consists of plant-based carbohydrates. Although they are primarily vegans, traditional Okinawans consume very small amounts of pork and fish on special occasions. Many health organisations, including the ADA state that a well-balanced vegan diet is healthy and nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Apart from being the obvious healthy choice, the main reason why someone would choose to have a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is for ethical reasons. If someone is willing to give up the ‘good taste’ of meat for the sake of saving some animal lives, that is truly respectful. Everyday, we come across petitions on social media with disturbing footage of animal cruelty in slaughter houses, where poor, defenceless animals are kept in cramped cages in the most inhumane conditions as if they had to feelings of their own. They are under-fed and often endure cruel acts for days until they are eventually brutally killed for their meat. It is truly gruesome. Just because animals cannot throw a protest, cannot speak for themselves or protect themselves with guns and weapons like we humans do, we take their helplessness for granted and treat them as if they were non-living.

Another reason for non-vegetarianism is offered by many from the West and from Europe, to whom meat-eating is a part of their tradition. If meat is removed from their cuisine, more than 80% of dishes from French, Italian, Eastern-European and English cuisine will cease to exist. Unlike continents like Asia and Africa that have many plant-based culinary items, European countries seem to thrive on the meat industry. A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) research has found out that not only are all red meats (beef, pork and lamb) carcinogenic, but they are also addictive. We should realise as smart, educated beings that culture has been created by man and can be changed, too, by man. After all, ‘culture’ should be something that should benefit everyone and not just the superior ones.

The human society has progressed really far since the last wars. We consider ourselves to be ‘civilised’ beings who stand for what is right and protest against acts of violence. We strongly believe in human rights such as the right to freedom, yet, all these ideals fall flat when it comes to the animal community. Slavery was wrong and that’s why it was eventually banished. It took the human race some time to realise that it was a barbaric act and in due course, it saw its end. Why should slaughter houses still be allowed to exist? Aren't they another form of slavery? The facts are all out in the open and now it is only a matter of making a choice- should filling our stomachs or pleasing our tongues cost someone else’s life to whom we owe nothing? Let’s think it over, especially because it is not benefiting any of the two parties in the long run.

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