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February 5, 2014: The archaic belief that vegetarianism is unhealthy

A couple of days ago, I posted a funny image about never hearing a valid argument against vegetarianism. One of my Facebook friends, who is a psychiatrist, took this to heart, and decided to prove to me that vegetarianism is, in fact, dangerous to one's health.

Now, this type of reaction is not that uncommon. People have long used the "vegetarianism is unhealthy" argument. This belief generally stems back to a long time ago, when many people still didn't think much about the unethical aspects of eating meat, so they didn't really look into alternatives to meat as much as they do now. The medical world did not really delve too deeply into vegetarianism or veganism, so a lot of the textbooks were pretty conservative in this respect. Even now, some doctors around the world are still taught somewhat archaic nutritional information, so they unfortunately still end up thinking that eating meat is the only way to go. This is the case with my psychiatrist friend. Many modern doctors have thankfully come to the realization that it is indeed possible to be healthy getting one's protein, iron, and other elements from a plant-based diet (Here's one of them). Some have even published their findings in order to encourage others to cast aside outdated information.

People get upset for various reasons when their deep-rooted dietary habits are challenged. They take this personally. Now, before you go saying that vegetarians can be closed-minded too (true), let me say that I've always maintained that whether you're a carnivore, a vegetarian, or a vegan, a well-balanced diet is key, and that it is, indeed, possible to eat healthy, even if one consumes meat. My psychiatrist friend, however, is one of those people that has a hard time opening his mind to different beliefs, so he proceeded to post about six articles about the dangers of a plant-based diet, some of which were as inconsequential as individual case studies which were too specific to prove anything. I assume that he fails to acknowledge the obvious truth that both vegetarians and carnivores can have vitamin and mineral deficiencies, sometimes due to bad diet, genetics, etc., but that (once again) a well-balanced diet in both cases can ensure that we remain healthy. It always makes me smile when someone posts articles from the medical world, since, of course, two can play at that game, and I can easily post other articles such as this one or this one (from a "biased" source, but quoting several third party sources), which site studies that prove the exact opposite.

If someone argues that vegetarianism is unhealthy, they are, in fact, saying that eating meat is healthy. This, in itself, is a very dangerous assumption, especially with the growing evidence that eating meat can, in fact, lead to all kinds of problems. A simple Google search reveals many articles such as this one which conclude that the consumption of meat can in fact bad for one's health. But, again, getting into an "article war" isn't the point. Detractors of vegetarianism will always find proof, no matter how unconvincing, to make them feel better about their beliefs, as will its supporters. So, as is often the case in life, it comes down to a choice. Which do you prefer, the compassionate path that seeks to save the lives of animals and prevent their suffering, or the status quo, which leads to the slaughter and suffering of millions of these animals? For me, the choice is pretty clear.

A final point, and one that's possibly most important, is that there are millions of vegetarians and vegans (like myself) out there that are prove that it's possible to live a healthy life without meat. Many, like myself, live active lives, go to the gym, play sports, etc., as well as any meat eater. We are living proof that vegetarianism/veganism is healthy, and living proof is pretty hard to argue against.

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