Food for thought: Things to consider before going vegetarian

Oceana Barillaro, Contributing Writer

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Usually when you tell someone that you’re vegetarian you’ll get one of these reactions: “What do you eat?!” or “I wouldn’t be able to eat anything.”
Meat is such an integral part of most of American’s everyday diet that it seems like not eating it would be literally impossible.  Many of us have bacon with breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pot roast for a hearty dinner; I mean what else would we eat?  

Everyone knows that the elephant in the room is how horrible the conditions are for the animals which we consume on a daily basis.  And while most people know about it, it is rarely discussed intimately because everyone loves their bacon, which is totally understandable.

Some will argue that it’s just a cow, or just a pig; the bitter truth is that “simple” cow or pig has the same nerves and pain tolerance as we do.  

One huge fact being ignored is that according to loads of research as the Daily Mail talks about, pigs are smarter than dogs and can problem solve just as well as chimpanzees.  We would never eat dogs so why would we eat something smarter than a dog?

Why would we eat something that can problem solve as well as our closest human counterparts?  It really does come down to a matter of culture, social norms, and personal values.

How I first learned about vegetarianism was through a documentary on Netflix called “What the Health.”  While this film touches on the living conditions of animals, what most people assume to be the only point of vegetarianism, the main focus is on the damage that eating meat does to your body.  

In this documentary, there were numerous facts that surprised me and made me question why they weren’t common knowledge.  One of these facts is that eating just one serving of meat per day increases your risk of diabetes by 51%.

It even states that eating a diet high in carbohydrates or sugar doesn’t even cause diabetes.  Isn’t that the opposite of what we’ve always been told?  Within the documentary they took people with diabetes, and other various health conditions, and put them on a plant-based diet.

In just a few weeks the people were astonishingly healthier and had reversed their diabetes and other issues such as heart disease, to the point were most of their medications weren’t necessary anymore.

Even though a lot of research can be found that proves how meat causes illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, processed meat is still endorsed by organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society.  

The American Diabetes Association had a recipe for bacon wrapped shrimp on their website.  This seems off considering the research speaks for itself, showing that processed meat highly correlates to several severe health problems that are now prevalent in our society.  

The theory about why processed meats continue to be promoted by organizations that are supposed to inform us with ways to avoid and reduce the risks of these illnesses pertains to the pharmaceutical industry.

The pharmaceutical industry is worth $300 billion dollars a year.  If the tens of millions of people with diabetes, heart disease and cancer knew that cutting meat out of their diet could not only aid their recovery but prevent them from getting a disease in the first place, they wouldn’t need all the mind-numbing medications.  This would result in a huge decrease of profits for the pharmaceutical industry; scary right?

 I would highly recommend this documentary even if you think being vegetarian isn’t for you.  Being informed and opening your mind to new ideas that aren’t mainstream can never hurt (also veggie burgers are extremely delicious).

Oceana is a freshman Mass Communications major and a contributing writer for The Voice.