Aside from satiating our hunger and pleasure, many of us are unaware of the facts involving our food choices. More often than not, we are not conscious of the health, environmental and (compassion) issues our menu comes with. We have been raised thinking that animal meat is an essential part of a diet, but the adage “you are what you eat” is true for those who have gained the knowledge from reality and facts and have made their choice to lessen or remove dead animals from their plates.
Types of vegetarians
The following are the kinds of vegetarians:
- Vegan: Vegans are considered pure vegetarians as they do not do not consume any animal products or by-products such as eggs and dairy, and honey. Vegans put high importance on the principle of animal rights. This explains their choice of not using animal products such as silk, leather and wool, as well.
- Lacto Vegetarian: Lacto-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, fowl or eggs. However, lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products (cheese, milk and yogurt)
- Ovo Vegetarian: Ovo-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, fowl or dairy products. However, ovo-vegetarians consume egg products.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Combination of lacto and ovo vegetarian.
- Pescatarian (Pescetarian): While technically not a type of vegetarian, these individuals restrict their meat consumption to fish and seafood only. Pescatarians do not consume red meat, white meat or fowl. This is considered a “semi-vegetarian” diet.
- Flexitarian – Also considered a semi-vegetarian diet with occasional meat item on the menu. Is not technically considered a vegetarian but is given the commendation for effort.
Reasons for change in diet
There have been numerous studies which prove that 70% of all diseases including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.
Nona Andaya-Castillo was a meat-lover who confessed to detest vegetables when she was young, thinking that She grew up helping her mother raise and slaughter poultry and swine, some of which were sold and some were for their consumption. She enjoyed all kinds of meat recipes, especially those brimming with fat, like sinigang and lechon kawali. She also had her generous helpings of dairy because her father worked in an ice cream company. Her food choice took a toll on her shortly after getting married, when she was going in and out of the hospital for diseases such as uterine bleeding, hepatitis A and malaria. She had 12 other recurring illnesses which only disappeared when she decided to go on a vegan diet. She was also able to help cure her husband who previously had episodes of heart attack, by turning him also as a vegan. Now on her 24th year of being a vegan, she strongly advocates natural lifestyle and parenting, with an emphasis on eating indigenous vegetables and fruits.
Before becoming vegans, Jaq Abergas and Lakapati Basa also had health problems. Jaq had such as acid reflux, pre-diabetes condition, and polycsystic ovaries while Lakapati also has reflux and was battling obesity. To combat their illnesses, Jaq started taking meat slowly off her diet (becoming flexitarian), while Lakapati committed to a plant-based high in raw food diet.
Nancy Siy, stopped eating animals in 2009, when she was a yoga newbie. Practicing yoga enabled her to change her emotional-self, she was “healed” from all the anger and found a new dimension in everyday life. Her background on the yoga would lead her to becoming a more compassionate human being.
She then stumbled on an article on how animals were slaughtered to be food on our table. Her research would lead her to find out that every year, 6 million animals are slaughtered inhumanely. Upon realising animal suffering, immediately decided to change her eating habits -overnight. In one month, she became a committed vegan.
Later, she would learn of Jivamukti Yoga and find that veganism complements the tenets of Jivamukti on ahimsa (non harming) and compassion for all beings. Now, she is a certified Jivamukti yoga instructor, trained by founders worldwide. She advocates her practice by teaching yoga (and giving free classes) to vegans and non-vegans. She also leads the social network community Manila Vegans which supports vegans and aspiring vegans in their food choices and lifestyle.
As population in the world continue to surge, causing the need for more energy and food, we are faced by the crisis of climate change. By 2050, experts predict a population of 9.1 billion. If all of these people follow a western diet rich in meat and dairy products – which is unsustainable according to a report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management; we will face the worst impacts of climate change.
According to the report, “production of meat and dairy products accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (generates more pollution than transportation). Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”
As one measure, UNEP urged a worldwide diet change, away from animal products – or making the shift towards veganism.
(To be continued)