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NerdyKeith's avatar

What is your opinion on vegetarianism & veganism?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) March 15th, 2016

Do you think both diets are nutritionally sustainable in accordance with a healthy diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals?

I was vegetarian myself for about three years. But unfortunately, the meat cravings eventually kicked in. I felt hungry all the time when I was vegetarian. It was difficult. I may try it again at some point in the future. But I would need to make better dietary choices to stick with it.

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42 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I tried it in university. I lost 100 lbs and was put in the emergency room. I failed out of university. That’s the last time that I fool with my diet.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Done both, vegetarianism is sustainable if done right, a vegan diet is not. People claim veganism is but you can’t actually get all of your nutrition without cheating. It’s more of a failed ideology but “strict vegetarian” can work with a lot of effort. When I tried being a vegan it really screwed me up and I ended up with major depression. On the flip side a pesco-ovo-veggie diet made me feel the healthiest I have ever been. I need to get back on that.

jaytkay's avatar

My thoughts laid out with no particular order or structure…

The vegetarians and vegans I know (yes, it is a small unscientific sample) are all as healthy as anyone else.

I would be a vegetarian if I had to kill the cows and chickens and pigs myself. I fish, but that gives me some pause.

My diet is about mostly vegetarian. I do not eat meat/poultry/fish ever day.

If you made me choose, meat every day or vegetarian every day, forever? I would go vegetarian.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Yes, you can sustain yourself fine on a vegetarian diet, but you must know what you are doing. Knowledge of dietary science is of the utmost importance—not knowledge picked up from some cornball advocating vegetarianism, but actually cracking books on the subject on your own. It’s your body. You better know what you are doing because it’s the only one you are going to get. And it’s not rocket science or brain surgery—it’s dietary science—it doesn’t take a PhD to understand it, just a library or a good net connection to one.

Vegan I think is a little more difficult, because they cut out so many sources of animal protein which is required for building and repairing the cells of your body.

Seek's avatar

How do you know when a vegan is at your party?

—Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

That aside, I have no strong feelings for or against it. I have done vegetarian for several months at a time for health reasons, but I have no moral disinclination to partake in animal products. Your ancestors, @NerdyKeith, and mine would have been long extinct without cows and pigs for sustenance.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

I was a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) for 9 years. I went back to eating meat in 2000 due to laziness and a lack of enthusiasm behind why I did it (ethics). I’ve been “trying” to go back to this every couple of years or so, but find some excuse (usually lack of convenience) to fail.

While I completely support sustainable and cruelty-free diets, the usual pressures of capitalism seem at work here. Consumer activism seems doomed to limited scale. And the economics of considering ethics in the raising of animals for food do not seem to win. It would take a large-scale government-funded incentive program of some type to tip the balance. I’d like to see it make economic sense as well as ethical sense.

I’ll likely return to my vegetarian ways. But for now, I’m just mostly meat-free. And the meat/eggs/milk I do buy at least (supposedly) have some ethical advantage over the larger factory farming.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@DoNotKnowMuch Consumer activism is alive and well and making a dent, it’s just that boycotts, etc., aren’t being publicized. Read journals such as Mother Jones magazine online, or Mother Earth News online, or google “Consumer Boycotts 2014”, for the latest successes and links to other direct action. You will be utterly surprised at what is not in the mass media. These mags are also gateways to other journals on sustainable alternatives to how most of us live. Buck up. Live your conscience. You are not alone.

You might even find out about government grants and free classes on being a bee master, or how badly some local government would like people to start community gardens, engage in beekeeping, or raise yard fowl for fun, health, and even a little profit. They want people to organize little local farmer’s markets and have pamphlets on how to do that. Or how badly some local governments want people to grow vanilla and saffron on their own property, start earthworm beds, or mushrooms for sale at the local farmer’s market. They want people to plant ginseng in the forests like Johnny Appleseed. There are pdf pamphlets on all of these subjects on the net from our Universities and local governments.

Welcome to Fluther.

JLeslie's avatar

I think I completely understand why people do it for humane reasons.

I also understand why people are vegans for health reasons. I think it is one of the healthiest diets. A little cheat of meat or dairy few and far between I don’t think has a negative impact of kept to a minimum. I especially think this diet for people who genetically appear to have high cholesterol that reacts to cholesterol intake I feel really benefit after reviewing several studies and observing my own family.

I don’t understand why people are vegetarian for health reasons if they are eating a lot of eggs and dairy. A grilled cheese is just as bad as a steak in my opinion for health. Maybe worse.

I don’t worry about vegans and vegetarians getting proper nutrition as long as they are aware of nutrition and get some blood tests done. I say the same to omnivores. I eat everything and I still have nutritional deficiencies and so do many many women I know.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@JLeslie cheese & dairy sure, eggs no. Eggs from old fashioned farm raised chickens are quite good for you. A whole egg a day is a super food.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

“PETA doesn’t want stressed animals to be cruelly crowded into sheds, ankle-deep in their own crap, because they don’t want any animals to die-ever-and basically think chickens should, in time, gain the right to vote. I don’t want animals stressed or crowded or treated cruelly or inhumanely because that makes them probably less delicious.”

“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans… are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”

“Oh, I’ll accommodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a ‘vegetarian plate’, if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.”

-Anthony Bourdian

ibstubro's avatar

I’ve been a vegetarian (lacto) for as long as I can remember. Certainly 25 years. For 10 years or so I would only eat eggs if they were present in prepared food (now I will use eggs myself) About 7 years or so ago I added seafood, mainly so people would STFU when I went out to eat.

I had no knowledge, no experience and no friends that didn’t eat meat when I started. I lost weight at the beginning and had a hard time eating enough to keep myself from being hungry. Gradually I realized that I like starch (pasta, potatoes, bread, etc.) better than meat, anyway, and now I fight the middle aged spread like anyone else. I’ve never concerned myself with eating enough protein or any specific nutrient, and I’ve never had health issues from diet.
I think people get too pent up about the whole thing, and are entirely too anal about it. I didn’t stop eating meat because it was going to kill me, I stopped because I wanted too. If I eat a cup of soup and find out later that it was made with chicken broth, I’m not going to have a stroke. A few times I’ve started into a dish at a restaurant and found that it contained unlisted bacon. I didn’t finish the dish as prepared, nor did I run to the restroom and shove my finger down my throat.

Why don’t I eat meat? Because I don’t want to. Simple as that.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

It’s goofy that people use it like a title. Eat what you want; no one cares. On days you eat no meat you are a vegetarian.

Coloma's avatar

I’m with @Seek and @MollyMcGuire I too was a vegetarian for years when I was younger but lacto/ovo I will never, ever, EVER, give up cheese. haha
I don’t eat much beef, once or twice a month maybe, little pork, a BLT or slice of ham now and then, little processed meat like sandwich meats and try to buy grass fed and free range, non-medicated beef and poultry but I am also not above hitting Taco Bell or Sizzler on occasion. We also have hens and ducks and geese and get delicious eggs. I won’t give up eggs either, I love eggs, scrambled, deviled, omelets, egg salad sandwiches and baking of course. It’s not eating meat that is immoral it is factory farming practices.

Brian1946's avatar

▲ If ever there was a post written under the influence of a major case of the munchies…. ▲ ;-)

Kropotkin's avatar

My opinion is that both dietary options are preferable to cannibalism.

ucme's avatar

I’m a part time vagitarian, when I eat beaver.

JLeslie's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me It just depends on the person. I have cholesterol trouble so eggs (the yolk) shoot my cholesterol way way up. However, I do agree eggs have vitamin K2, which is protective for the heart, and I think eggs have other good nutritional value. Many people eat eggs, and tons of cholesterol in general, and their cholesterol levels are just fine. I think more power to them, and they can eat whatever they want. It’s the same as I can eat a big bag of cotton candy and the diabetic next to me can’t.

I know more than one person who was worried about their cholesterol so they cut out most or all meat, but they replaced it with cheese and eggs and they were surprised their cholesterol isn’t any better and then eventually they ditch the diet change. If they want to see if there cholesterol shifts regarding what they eat, then they need to reduce the cholesterol in their diet and test it.

One egg has the same cholesterol as a 10 oz steak (more or less) and people rarely eat only one egg when they eat eggs.

Silence04's avatar

I don’t have any option on people that modify their diet for health reasons, but I believe people that don’t eat meat for ethical reasons live a very privileged and naive life.

We have a capitalistic machine in place that kills 100 billion animals a year for profit (read: not for food). That will continue to happen regardless if a percentage of the population chooses not to eat it. Often people that don’t eat meat feel they are no longer accountable for the death of those animals, however in my opion, simply contributing to a society that promotes this capitalistic greed makes them as accountable as the people eating meat.

I eat meat becuase unfortunately i am apart of the society that promotes this machine.

The reality is there is absolutely no ethical way to kill 100 billion animals a year. Choosing not to eat it won’t reduce that number. In the US alone, it’s estimated that 45% of food for consuption goes to waste and never gets eaten. In order to change any of this, we need to change the system.

longgone's avatar

I gave up meat when I was five. While I have no ethical problem with eating meat, I do have issues with keeping animals locked up for life, hooves nailed to the floor, standing in their waste, not seeing sunlight and harming both themselves and each other to relieve the stress they’re under.

I eat “cruelty-free” eggs and dairy-products. I’m aware of the hypocrisy.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@JLeslie I think it depends on the individual. It’s no doubt wise to limit egg yokes if it affects your cholesterol. It’s never really affected mine though, probably genetics.

Silence04's avatar

Didn’t mean to hit answer, was stil trying to craft my response but can no longer edit it. Blah…

NerdyKeith's avatar

@longgone And how do you determine which eggs are cruelty free? Or do you just mean free range eggs?

thorninmud's avatar

Vegetarian for something like 26 years. Health-wise, no particular issues. I expend next to no effort on plotting out my nutritional requirements (too lazy for that), but then I tend to like the stuff that’s “good for me” anyway. Also, nowadays it’s extremely easy to get a decent variety of non-meat food that tastes good.

I’m not out to reform the system and get everyone to give up meat. I do think factory farming is an abomination in many ways, but I have no illusions that I’m sticking it to the meat industry. My decision not to eat meat grew out of a realization that eating animals required quite a bit of ethical denial on my part. I found that while I could work up a rational sounding case for why it didn’t really matter if I ate meat, in the end I was just trying to come up with reasons for not having to change. And worse, this meant stifling my natural inclination to care about the welfare of animals. There was an inevitable cognitive dissonance that came with eating meat. I could either deny it, paper it over with rationalizations, or just stop eating meat.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Hasn’t been helping me keep healthy and certainly has not kept my weight down. My meat-eating friends are far better off. Can’t eat meat if my life depended on it! For me other than the ethical issue it has not helped one bit!

ibstubro's avatar

I’m lucky in that I’m in a rural area, @NerdyKeith, and I can buy eggs hand gathered from a chicken coup. Check the food designations for Ireland, or this might be of help?

I’m 100% with @thorninmud, with the addition that I may have IBS.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, “cruelty” free meat and eggs are free range and pasture raised, not confined in stock yards cram packed with animals or caged in factory farms. Out little flock of 8 hens is let out of their coop and large yard to roam all day. They catch insects, run amok all over the property, take dust baths under the trees, and frolic around free and happy. We keep them in their coop until about 10–11 a.m. to collect the morning eggs and then they are let out until dark when they return to their coop and we lock them in for the night.

The meats we buy are locally pasture raised and our neighbors have small herd of beef cattle, about 10 animals that roam in lush pastures and are used for training their cutting horses with one or two done in by a mobile butcher once a year for personal use and to share with some of the neighbors.

JLeslie's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me That’s what I said. We are agreeing. I’m completely jealous of you.

Coloma's avatar

Just don’t eat a lot of goose eggs, 1,200 mgs. of cholesterol compared to about 200 mgs. in a chicken egg but man do they make a mega fluffy cake . haha

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@JLeslie Don’t be, I can’t eat too many sweets or drink much alcohol without my triglycerides going crazy.

Tea_Gryphon's avatar

I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian, been one for quite some time. I eat vegan if I can’t get my hands on cruelty free dairy and eggs. Living in Texas, it’s sorta hard to be even vegetarian unless you’re in the bigger cities. Right now I get eggs from my mother’s friend’s local farm where I know her chickens aren’t in battery cages and are fed a good diet and allowed to roam around. I only drink almond milk if I can’t get my hands on some raw milk from a local farm. (I’m moving to a city that’s close to a local raw dairy farm, and I will be buying a cow-share so I can obtain milk that way. Right now I don’t have a local farm to get any milk from.)

I eat vegetarian for health and humane reasons. I definitely notice a difference from my meat eating days. I’ve always been fascinated by nutrition, and fixing to go back to school to get my bachelor’s in Dietetics. You can’t change your diet from “normal” to vegetarian or especially vegan if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are plenty of ways to get protein and calcium outside of animal products, but again, education is key. That’s why people end up terribly sick when they dive in without proper research. Gotta know your stuff. Another reason why I’m going to school to be a dietitian is to help people make healthy choices the right way so they don’t screw themselves over and then swear off healthier choices because they went about it the wrong way. That and showing lower income families that you can indeed eat healthy and meat-free on a limited budget and not the normal on the cheap garbage people eat on a regular basis.

longgone's avatar

@NerdyKeith Just free range is a huge improvement over eggs from battery hens, yeah. I go a step further, and buy “Demeter” eggs. Demeter is a German associstian which strives to make sustainable and “ethical” farming the norm. The hens have more space, more sunlight, and better food than regular free-range chickens.

I put the term “ethical” in quotes because I don’t think their approach is good enough. I worked on a Demeter farm for a couple of weeks, so I got the chance to look behind the scenes. I wasn’t shocked, but neither did I feel like those hens were leading a good life. They were still cramped when indoors – which is crazy, considering that their battery cousins have just a sixth of the space these guys had. I also wasn’t thrilled with the fact that the hens were delivered in vans, stuffed into plastic boxes. Seriously. They exploded out of there.

So, “cruelty-free” is not a good description. “Cruelty-lessened” is more accurate.

JLeslie's avatar

@Tea_Gryphon People get terribly sick when they go vegetarian? I don’t know anyone with that experience. I know a few people who said they craved meat, or didn’t feel as good not eating meat, but terribly sick? Sick how?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@JLeslie Getting very ill can happen when people change their diet abruptly. I know several people who pushed their gallbladder over the line when changing diet. Many people don’t ease into new eating habits. People can also get very sick if they don’t get proper nutrition while on a vegan/vegetarian diet.

ibstubro's avatar

It’s likely that people become vegetarian through a gradual process – I know I did. I was eating less and less meat until I just decided to forgo it altogether. I never skipped a beat.

It’s far less likely that someone will go from eating meat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week to meat free. I can see how that kind of transition could cause problems, but I can’t think of a scenario where someone would do such an about-face.

Like @JLeslie, I think there would have to be a serious pre-existing health issue for serious illness to occur.

JLeslie's avatar

None of the vegetarians in my family, or out of my friends, had severe problems when they changed over. Most still held onto some cheat foods for a while when transitioning. Most had some awareness of basic nutrition. My sister has been vegan for over 25 years. My aunt has been vegetarian for over 40 years. I have many vegetarian friend.

A lot of people I know don’t see it through very long term. They toy with being vegetarians. I toy with being vegan. Sometimes I do it only at home, but break rules in restaurants, I guess that’s like a “conservative” vegan. LOL. Sometimes I go lacto-ovo, but only skim milk and cereal. No cheese, or other high fat dairy. Still breaking the rules in restaurants. I do that maybe 2–3 months at a time sometimes. Then I might go a year two eating everything.

Tea_Gryphon's avatar

@JLeslie A friend of mine’s sister in law didn’t know how to cook much and decided to go straight up vegetarian cold turkey (no pun intended haha) and wanted to eat ‘healthy’ so she ended up eating nothing but french fries and lettuce. That’s it. Which is idiotic but of course she became really sick because you cannot survive on french fries and lettuce. Her excuse was it was less calories so therefore healthier. She had a poor grasp of what health even was apparently.

Same with a friend of mine back in hair school, who seriously ate mac n’ cheese and salads and did not stray past that. “I can’t cook so I just eat these things. They taste good and no meat!” Obviously this isn’t the norm for most, but awful decisions like that can happen. That’s why I want to educate people so dumb, mindless mistakes like french fry only diets don’t happen.

And of course what @ARE_you_kidding_me said is absolutely true as well. Any abrupt change to your diet and deviating away from what your body is used to without assessing how your body will react can have some pretty bad effects for some people. Kinda like with cats and dogs when changing their food. Gotta introduce it gradually if your system isn’t up to par, and most times when you don’t eat a great diet in the first place, your system won’t handle an abrupt change too kindly, even if it’s food that’s better for you. Some people need a detox and certain nutrients to help their body adjust over an amount of time.

JLeslie's avatar

@Tea_Gryphon That’s you’re example? French fries and lettuce is just stupid. That’s not a vegetarian diet in my opinion. Eating the same two things every day and thinking it will be ok for an extended period doesn’t count as getting sick from becoming a vegetarian in my opinion.

How abrupt? Going from omnivore to lacto-ovo isn’t that abrupt even if you do it all at once. Unless the person had a really crappy diet with not veggies and fruit at all. Then, I would blame their previous diet, not the vegetarian diet, and even then usually the worst might be some diarrhea or constipation, depending.

Increase in dairy might give them negative effects too like more gas and possibly change in bowel movements. Depends on the person, but it’s not uncommon.

Tea_Gryphon's avatar

@JLeslie Again, it depends on what you were eating before you change your diet and how abrupt of a change you’re making. Some people are gradual and some are cold turkey. Both Naturopaths and doctors say to check with them before any major diet changes (I’m sure just lacto/ovo is fine without having to consult a physician), especially if you’re on meds or pregnant or have allergies. I was mostly referring to the vegan diet, as an uninformed individual could compromise their nutrient intake and get sick if not knowing what to do. It’s just good to be in tune with your body before any change for sure! That’s why I’m going to school for it, to help people transition and then keep up with it. And there are some people out there like the two I mentioned unfortunately who eat that stuff and think it’s good. It makes me facepalm.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m just saying I would never insult vegetarians by using French fries and lettuce as an example of their diet.

Most vegans take their diet very seriously. They usually are fairly well read and informed about nutrition.

ibstubro's avatar

I think @Tea_Gryphon is speaking with the idealistic zeal of a budding young dietitian in training, @JLeslie.

There’s no offense in french fry and lettuce diet…the example could be an idiot switching to Paleo and eating nothing but lettuce and pork chops. lol

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro When someone eats just grapefruit and celery (two popular diet foods) no one is thinking, “oh, vegetarian.”

I do understand your point though; the OP is excited about his area of study.

ibstubro's avatar

Learning with passion, @JLeslie, restraint with experience.

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