World Vegetarian Day, 1st October 2017
The Conscious Eating collaboration, formed by the Health Promotion department, the Ministry of Environment and the Alameda Wildlife park, are uniting to celebrate World Vegetarian Day. The benefits of eating vegetarian meals remain widely unknown; this day provides the opportunity to increase awareness and have non-vegetarians also enjoy the benefits.
Recommendations for a healthy diet focus on increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains; a vegetarian diet provides all these food sources whilst remaining free from unhealthy animal fats.
The consumption of red and processed meats is linked to increased risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and premature death; whilst vegetarian diets are associated with a lower incidence of obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and type2 diabetes.
Several laboratory studies have found anti-carcinogenic properties in fruits and vegetables; increasing the amount we eat can lower the risks of certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer. New smaller studies have also shown an association between the intake of tomatoes (and tomato-based products) with a lower risk of prostate cancer.
By increasing your nut and legume intake, and reducing your meat intake, you can increase your life expectancy by up to 20%.
The health of others is also good to consider. More than half of the world’s crops are used to feed farmed animals, not people; so by opting to follow a more plant based diet you can contribute towards fighting world hunger.
A person’s food footprint is calculated based on all the emissions resulting from the production, transportation and storage of food needed to meet their consumption. Beef is the most carbon intensive meat to produce, followed by white meats and dairy.
Methane emissions, predominantly from cows, also contribute to almost a quarter of all meat production emissions. Collectively, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gases, which is more than the combination of exhaust fumes from transportation worldwide!
If your family swaps 1 meat meal per week (for a vegetarian option) it is equivalent to taking your car off the road for 5 weeks!
The destruction of the rainforest to make way for grazing pastures, to meet the rising demand for meat and dairy produce, results in land degradation, loss of valuable habitat and the loss of species diversity . This land clearing also destroys ‘carbon sinks’ releasing billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, further adding to climate change.
You don’t have to be a fulltime vegetarian to give it a go, and make a global difference.