I loved reading today the news stories about vegetarianism and research showing that vegetarians have a substantially lower risk of cancer than meat eaters. Vegetarians are 45% less likely to develop cancer of the blood than meat eaters and are 12% less likely to develop cancer overall.
As the Guardian reports:
The Oxford research is the latest in a series of reports to discourage too much meat in the diet. Last year, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which last year earned a share of the Nobel peace prize – urged giving up meat at least once a week as a way of combating global warming. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Two years ago, the World Cancer Research Fund found a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer and recommended that the average amount of meat eaten should be no more than 300g a week. In Britain, the current meat intake is about 970g a week for men and about 550g a week for women.
I have been vegetarian for about ten years now. I became vegetarian for a number of reason, some health, some poverty, some to simply get my own way. But I must say I am glad that I am. My main reason for being vegetarian now is simply that I have no desire to eat meat. If it started causing me health problems then I could eat fish, but really would still have no desire to eat meat. And the fact that I’m helping the planet is a bonus! Apart from cheese and eggs, my diet is very low in animal fats, and I feel far healthier as a result. I’ve recently taken to using Rice Milk on my breakfasts (not for moral reasons, but simply because the human body isn’t designed to digest copious amounts of milk) and feel a lot healthier for it.
It’s easy to be vegetarian – although eating out options are more limited. Some parts of the UK still think that vegetarians will only eat pasta, and other parts of Europe think we eat chicken. I got some strange looks when holidaying in Colombia and trying to explain that I was veggie. I’m not a militant vegetarian – I firmly believe that if you could kill the animal yourself you have every right to eat it – but I hope the latest in a series of reports will show people that, while it’s obviously not the answer to illness or climate change – vegetarianism (whole, partial, or simply by eating less meat) is a step in the right direction.