Photo illustration by Cory Wyman ’16 – Vegetarianism offers many health and nutritious benefits.
By Matthew Zacher ’18
Proper vegetarianism offers health benefits, but if not executed in a healthy manner it can cause physical and mental health risks.
According to vegetariantimes.com, 3.2 percent of Americans identify as vegetarian. The study showed that 53 percent cited health concerns and 47 percent cited environmental concerns as reasons for their diet choice.
While there are many health benefits to a vegetarian diet, if vegetarianism is not done properly it can lead to malnutrition and poor mental health.
Many vegetarians struggle to fill themselves or satisfy their hunger, so they catch a case of the “munchies.” The snacks that people typically eat include chips, cookies and pretzels that are poor for the human diet.
It is easier to satisfy one’s hunger by eating a chicken breast or turkey burger, while in the process avoiding the “munchies” and potentially saving caloric intake. A chicken breast is healthier than three bags of Lays and four Oreos.
For vegetarians who exercise proper dieting techniques to fill themselves, vegetarianism is a very healthy option.
A proper plant-based diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes, according to Harvard Medical School. However, vegetarianism can become unhealthy when it comes to mental health, according to Women’s Health Magazine.
A study outlined in the magazine discovered that a lack of protein can cause mental risks such as anxiety, depression and OCD.
Many vegetarians simply don’t like meat or have made a moral decision to not consume meat, so they’d rather eat a plant-based diet. But there are others who are forcing themselves into vegetarianism for well-intentioned health reasons, without the knowledge of the possible mental health effects.
Diets play a significant role in one’s overall satisfaction, and when many people, including myself, cannot eat what we want, we become disgruntled.
This frustration can put a damper on one’s happiness. What is the point of forcing oneself to live dissatisfied?
Again, many vegetarians diet properly and incorporate a healthy amount of variety into their diet, but it can be difficult to ensure that one is obtaining adequate nutrients. It’s especially important for vegetarians to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in order to prevent malnutrition, according to Harvard Medical School.
As far as environmental concerns go, many vegetarians believe they are making a difference by eating a plant-based diet. The fact is, grocery stores and restaurants aren’t going to stop providing meat to omnivores because of the actions of 3.2 percent of the population. It is a commendable gesture, but it has no great effect.
In Genesis, God gave humanity dominion over the animals, and frankly, many omnivores feel that this dominion is true and just.