The Health Benefits Of A Vegetarian Diet

2012-06-29 | |
Last updated: 2012-06-29

The discussion of politics or religion in a social situation is often considered impolite because of the potential to offend others who hold different beliefs. The potential to offend is especially high when people are passionate in communicating their beliefs or closed to different ways of thinking. To avoid the awkwardness of such situations, many people will instead talk about more mundane topics such as family, hobbies or food. Generally these are safe topics except when someone involved is a vegetarian.

Unlike other aspects of dietary choice, being a vegetarian has numerous associations with both politics and religion. Some religions forbid or govern the eating of meat while in other situations, people may avoid meat because of a concern for the environment or for animal welfare. Beliefs aside, health is a valid reason to choose a vegetarian diet. In this regard, medical research continues to demonstrate the many ways in which a vegetarian diet is good for our health.

What Is A Vegetarian Diet?

If you do not follow a vegetarian diet, it is understandable to be unaware or confused by the various types of vegetarian diets that exist. The different names of these diet variations are based on the non-vegetable products that people may consume in addition to vegetables. Some people will add a combination of dairy, eggs, and fish to their mostly vegetable diet meaning that the diets are not purely vegetarian. Those who strictly avoid all foods derived from animal sources are called vegan.

From a particular religious or ethical rationale, this definition of vegetarian may be seen as inaccurate or incomplete. However, for the purposes of health, a vegetarian diet is one that focuses primarily on getting nutrition from vegetable sources.

How Many People Are Vegetarians And Who Are They?

Another question that might arise in thinking about a vegetarian diet is just how many people eat in this manner. According to research published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in 2003, roughly 4% of the Canadian population is vegetarian in some form. In the US, a 2012 study by the Vegetarian Times magazine found that more than 3% of the US population consumes some variation of vegetarian diet. In the UK, the numbers range from 7% to 23% depending on the study.

Among people who are vegetarian, roughly 60% are female and 40% are male. More than 80% of vegetarians are under the age of 55. People who consume a vegetarian diet do so mostly for health reasons. According to a CNN/Time Magazine poll from 2002, roughly 1 in 3 people said that health was the greatest reason for choosing a vegetarian diet. In the study, health also represented the single greatest reason why people chose this type of diet. A more recent poll by the Vegetarian Times magazine found that more than 50% of people consuming a vegetarian diet chose the diet for health reasons.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research

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