September 2, 2016
When the words “vegetarian” and “vegan” cross your mind, you instantly think of weird, animal-loving hippies who worship at the altar of PETA and tell everyone that meat is murder. While the desire not to harm animals may be a major motive for cutting animal products out of a diet, many people choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle because it’s far healthier than one that includes meat.
Today, several professional athletes have chosen an animal-free diet to be in peak condition. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about the protein that these athletes need for their muscles? They can’t possibly be getting any protein if they aren’t eating meat, right? It’s quite the opposite, actually; most people who live an omnivorous lifestyle are actually getting MORE protein than their body needs. Muscle, the part of the animal that we typically eat, contains a large quantity of fat and protein that our bodies simply can’t digest into a usable form. It goes into storage and adds onto our body bulk in places other than the muscle department. So, if you’re trying to bulk up in muscle for wrestling or football, piling up on filet mignon and baked chicken is not the way to go.
Most meat-lovers out there are not getting enough fiber. Yes, if you’re eating a well-balanced meal with a vegetable and starch and protein source you might be alright, but that’s not the case with those who just grab a rotisserie chicken and think that’s enough. The reason vegetarians and vegans get enough is because the majority of the diet contains fiber. We can’t just go pick up a rotisserie tofu, we have to rely on plants to give us what we need. Plant fibers coat everything we digest and make it easier for our bodies to remove waste. People who “elect not to eat salad” are probably not getting the fiber intake their bodies need. Sure, you can solve that problem with a Fiber One bar every once in awhile, but then you’re not getting all the natural vitamins and nutrients that vegetables provide. So people who only eat pepperoni pizza and burgers often feel sluggish and heavy. Why is that? They aren’t getting a nice, healthy daily intake of veggie fiber.
Vegetarianism and veganism ARE NOT the same thing. Vegetarianism is not nearly as involved as veganism. Vegetarians don’t eat meat. Vegans, on the other hand, don’t eat or use any animal products at all; no dairy, honey, or eggs. That also includes gelatin, the main ingredient in fruit snacks and marshmallows. Vegans can’t eat s’mores or Scooby Doo gummies because gelatin is made from various animal tissue. Typically, vegans and vegetarians also stop buying products tested on or made from animals if they are choosing the diet because of their love for animals. That means no leather shoes, no soft down jacket lining, and no buying many popular make-up brands, which includes MAC, Covergirl, Revlon, and even Chapstick. Countless hours are spent checking labels and doing research to make sure that zero harm has been done to animals in order to make the products that are being used.
Animal-free diets are not easy, but the health benefits may be worth it.