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BEFORE the fair, here's some advice to chew over which might make you kick meat.

1According to the highly respected American Dietetic Association, "vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fibre, magne sium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals".

2 As a vegetarian you will eat less saturated fat. Meat and dairy products contain saturated fat, so vegetarians are automatically reducing their intake of this.

3 Dietary fibre is found only in plant food like grains, beans and fruit. Meat and dairy have no fibre.

4 Vegetarians eat food which is more whole food and less processed and so avoid the added salt and sugar beloved of manufacturers. Veggies also tend to flavour foods with spices and herbs instead of salt, and to sweeten foods with fruits rather than sugar.

5 Coronary disease is mainly associated with diets high in fat. Ireland has one of the highest rates of death from heart disease in the world, which is not surprising given our traditional high in take of me at and dairy products. Many studies have shown that vegetarians suffer between 30 to 40 per cent less risk of heart disease than meat eaters do even when other factors like smoking or exercise are taken into account.

6 Various studies have estimated that about 35 per cent of all cancers are diet-related. Vegetarians suffer much less incidence of cancer of the colon, associated with a low-fibre diet. Vegetarian women suffer less breast cancer which has been linked to a high-fat diet. The fruit and vegetables that tend to fill a veggie menu contain the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C, and E, which help to protect against unavoidable toxins such as air pollution.

7 The combination of high fibre and low fat means vegetarians are less likely to be overweight. A diet high in grains, beans, fruit and vegetables should prevent excess weight without having to resort to diets.

8 Vegetarianism is good news for farm animals and will reduce your carbon footprint. Large-scale farm animal production is extremely damaging to the environment. The major polluting agents generated are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, as well as chemicals from tanneries, fertilisers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of aboveand below-ground water sources. Farm animals account for 37 per cent of all human-induced methane (23 times as much warming as C02), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants. Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth's entire land surface. This is mostly permanent pasture but it also includes 33 per cent of the global arable land used to produce feed for livestock. In Latin America about 70 per cent of former rain forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. According to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation last year the livestock sector generates 18 per cent more greenhouse emissions, as measured in C02 equivalent, than transport.

9 Meat contains absolutely nothing - no proteins, vitamins or minerals - that the human body cannot obtain perfectly happily from vegetarian options.

10 Constipation will probably be a thing of the past once you adopt a high-fibre diet. Taking supplements is not as good as getting the nutrients you need directly from the food. Whole foods in particular are richer in natural antioxidants.


GO GREEN: Healthy
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 5, 2007
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