Let me start by defining the two concepts that tend to get mixed up.
A person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, esp. for moral, religious, or health reasons.
A person who does not eat or use animal products.
I cannot say I am fully vegetarian. I do still consume some meats such as chicken and fish and other derivates such as yogurt and cheese, but I am making a thoughtful and well researched effort to move to a plan-based life… Let me tell you why.
My son is nearly 8 years old. He has never ever wanted to eat red meat. Oh and I tried, I did try for a long time to make him eat spaghetti Bolognese cut into tiny little toddler friendly pieces. I tried with hamburgers and meatballs, but he simply didn’t want to. The very thought of meat made him feel queasy and sick. He was a good eater of all things green. Peas and carrots were his favourites, and from age one he would eat raw garlic, onion and cucumber while I was cooking supper.
So after a while I decided to just let him be. I got criticized by some members of the family “kids need protein” “kids have to eat meat because they are growing” and such. So I went on to educate myself on the subject matter.
I investigated about protein needs and wants and I discovered vegetables and especially leafy greens are full of protein. People used to believe protein was ONLY present in meat, but that is a misconception. As a matter fact Professor T. Colin Campbell, author of the book The China Study says “There is a mountain of compelling evidence showing that so called “low-quality” plant protein, which allows for slow but steady synthesis of new proteins, is the healthiest type of protein.” Also it has been found that the protein from greens doesn’t have cancer as a side effect, as opposed to red meats.
“Deep-green, leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals, protein and fibers. Including leafy greens into your diet will help to boost your metabolic functions, keep you full for a longer time and supply your body with vital nutrients. Broccoli, spinach and romaine lettuce are all examples of protein-rich leafy veggies.” LIVESTRONG.COM
Another source compares the nutrients found on some of these leafy greens against sirloin steak.
Nutrients present in 100-calorie portions
|Protein||11.2 gm||5.4 gm||7.5 gm||11 gm|
|Calcium||322 mg||2.4 mg||374 mg||470 mg|
|Iron||3.5 mg||.7 mg||7.7 mg||5.8 mg|
|Magnesium||74.5 mg||5 mg||60.5 mg||97 mg|
|Fiber||4.7 g||0||4 g||3.4 g|
|Phytochemicals||Very High||0||Very High||Very High|
|Antioxidants||Very High||0||Very High||Very High|
|Folate||257 mcg||3 mcg||969 mcg||60 mcg|
|B2||.71 mg||.04 mg||.45 mg||.32 mg|
|Niacin||2.8 mg||1.1 mg||2.2 mg||2.1 mg|
|Zinc||1.04 mg||1.2 mg||1.2 mg gm||.55 mg|
|Vitamin C||350 mg||0||100 mg||329 mg|
|Vitamin A||7750 IU||24 IU||10,450 IU||23,407 IU|
|Vitamin E||26 IU||0||32 IU||34 IU|
|Weight||307 gm||24 gm||550 gm||266 gm|
|(10.6 oz)||(.84 oz)||(19 oz)||(9.2 oz)|
This table is from the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman’s book Cholesterol Protection for Life.
Fact: greens provide protein in the form of individual amino acids. These amino acids are easier for the body to utilize than complex proteins. A variety of greens can supply all the protein we need to sustain each of our unique bodies.
If we choose to eat meat then fine, but we can survive (and thrive) perfectly well without it.
So the more I investigated the more I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to eat meat. Meat consumption is linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, cholesterol and a whole lot of things that frankly I can live without. And that is only on the human health and nutrition side of things.
Then we have animal cruelty. I saw the documentary Vegucated, 2011 in which we the public are exposed to a series of images that show us what goes on inside the farms behind closed doors. Piglets get castrated without anesthetics, chicken get their beaks cut and are shoved around like lifeless cardboard (while alive) and cattle gets treated in ways that are far for humane. It is the most horrendous thing I have ever seen.
When you ask my little boy why he doesn’t eat meat, he will say “I don’t want to kill animals to eat them”. The first time he told me this was about a year ago, he was 6 years old. I had never spoken to him about killing animals and I was still unaware of the Vegucated documentary, he got to this conclusion on his own at age 6. It made me think, it inspired me and it made me believe in humanity again.
Then when I try to explain my point of view to my parents I get the “An animal is an animal and we (humans) have to eat”… it fills me with rage and sadness, but unfortunately is the way the majority think. Many rather turn their heads away from the issue and live blissfully not knowing what goes into their bellies and the processes these animals had to endure to end up in our plates.
My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.” ― Leonardo da Vinci.
So in conclusion, I am not saying everyone should live a plant-based life. I am not saying you are cruel and evil if you decide to eat meat everyday of your life. All I am saying is my son and I have made the decision (and he did it before me, I am just following his tiny and inspiring footsteps) to eat less meat.
Oh may I also say my son is a strong, lean, happy, healthy 7 year old who has never had any health or weight issues, he is an average kid, he just doesn’t eat hotdogs, nor burgers or pepperoni or tacos.