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FoodHealth

Lose Weight and Help the Planet

Usually vegetarians or vegans familiar to me don’t push any agenda. They are content to live and let live, but when someone asks them about their food choices, they will provide information. Sometimes they over share – but generally because they are trying to be helpful, not argumentative. Naturally, discussions about food tend to lead to somewhat heated exchanges, maybe because our food choices are based in emotions, so we feel the need to defend our foods/emotions when they are challenged.

Image Credit: public domain

Opinions vary and it isn’t necessary to fight, but what are we to make of certain trends like the obesity epidemic in America and climate change, the global problem? About 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Many of these deaths are preventable with lifestyle changes such as better diets and consistent, regular exercise.

One of the humorous aspects of the food landscape in America is that some meat-eaters say they won’t switch to a vegetarian diet because it isn’t healthy. These same people might be eating at various junk food outlets regularly, but they say vegetarian diets aren’t healthy. Research has shown the vegetarians tend to be both healthier and live longer though.

Are people who eat mostly meat reading about these studies? Probably not, because we all have selective filters. Cognitive dissonance theory also may play a role. It states that we alter our thoughts to fit our belief systems.

It would seem some societies like America, would be very suitable for switching towards plant-based diets, due to all the health problems associated with the obesity epidemic, such as diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, various fad diets abound with many weight loss books, DVDs, etc.  sold every year. These diets are typically scams though, because most people who try to follow them gain back all the weight they lost. Some gain more weight after the initial losses.

So, simply switching to a vegetarian diet, when done properly would be a much better choice for weight loss, because all the information is available online for free. No fad diets need to used and no money wasted on the associated media. Of course, it isn’t necessary to go completely meatless. It could be much better for one’s health to reduce meat consumption and cut out things like junk food completely. Decreasing meat consumption is better for the planet too, because large-scale animal farming contributes greatly to climate change.




2 comments
  1. Josh Garnett

    This is a well-intentioned, but misinformed article. It seems to me that the message of the article is “switch to a plant-based diet, it’s better for your health”, which is as far as I’m concerned absolutely true.
    However, health has nothing to do with body size, regardless of what the media says. Believing this perpetuates fat stigma (“fat people should all lose weight cause they’re not healthy”), and fat stigma create problems like eating disorders and low self-esteem (which could be seem as bad for the environment in a way – waste of human potential). You have lots of people who qualify as “fat” but are nonetheless very healthy (it’s the whole argument “BMI-wise, The Rock, lots of American football players, rugby players, and all that, are in the ‘morbidly obese’ category”). Studies have shown that thin people actually have a lower life expectancy than chubby people (the argument is that when disease strikes, having no resources packed away in your body makes you more vulnerable).
    So I think you should ditch all the references to losing weight in the article. I think the message here is: eat more veggies and less meat to be healthier and it’s better for the environment: however you may not lose weight, and if you don’t it’s ok, you’re still going to be healthier, don’t worry about it.

  2. Josh Garnett

    This is a well-intentioned, but misinformed article. It seems to me that the message of the article is “switch to a plant-based diet, it’s better for your health”, which is as far as I’m concerned absolutely true.
    However, health has nothing to do with body size, regardless of what the media says. Believing this perpetuates fat stigma (“fat people should all lose weight cause they’re not healthy”), and fat stigma create problems like eating disorders and low self-esteem (which could be seem as bad for the environment in a way – waste of human potential). You have lots of people who qualify as “fat” but are nonetheless very healthy (it’s the whole argument “BMI-wise, The Rock, lots of American football players, rugby players, and all that, are in the ‘morbidly obese’ category”). Studies have shown that thin people actually have a lower life expectancy than chubby people (the argument is that when disease strikes, having no resources packed away in your body makes you more vulnerable).
    So I think you should ditch all the references to losing weight in the article. I think the message here is: eat more veggies and less meat to be healthier and it’s better for the environment: however you may not lose weight, and if you don’t it’s ok, you’re still going to be healthier, don’t worry about it.

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