by Linda Todd
People often ask why we have chosen to become vegetarians. An obvious question for someone who has been a “meat-eater” for over 70 years.
There are several reasons. My husband Bill has high cholesterol and for years our doctor has recommended that Bill take a statin to lower that number. Since Bill takes very little medicine and has heard of negative side effects of statins, he has declined to take them. We have been vegetarian for a year and a half and at his last exam, his total cholesterol was down 26 points. Not a huge change but that was after only 6 months!
Another important reason to stop eating meat is the environmental impact it is making. I just read in Nutrition Action magazine that almost 12 pounds of greenhouse gases are released to produce one serving of beef. Cows and sheep are known polluters, releasing 250-300 liters of methane gases a day. Methane from cattle is shorter lived than carbon dioxide but 28 times more potent in warming the atmosphere.
Some people hesitate to eat vegetarian because they feel they aren’t getting enough protein. I have read that we need a lot less protein than we think and we actually eat a lot more than we think. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is about 50 grams a day. The average American eats about 90 grams of protein a day. By eating fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes you can also get enough protein.
We feel that we need to make a difference in this world and eating vegetarian is one to do that. We started by cutting out meat one day a week and found that the meals we were eating were tasty and satisfying. I won’t say that we don’t occasionally have bacon for breakfast but we are trying our best to cut meat out of our diet. There are many new products in groceries now that replace meat. Eating vegetarian isn’t just having a plate full of vegetables for dinner. There are excellent recipes for casseroles, stews and soups that use non-meat substitutes. There are wonderful hamburger-like burgers other than veggie burgers and good sausages and “brats”. Most restaurants, even fast-food restaurants, have a vegetarian option now. I would challenge everyone to try it for one day and see how good a vegetarian meal can be.