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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Vegetarianism is a diet that excludes any meat or product that comes from animal slaughter. It has become increasingly popular over the past few years due to the substantial amount of benefits that come from it, if you do it right. I know everyone at some point has given some thought to becoming a vegetarian, so here is your sign to give it a try. 

Of course, there is the obvious reason of being a vegetarian because of the love of animals. Some vegetarians felt too much like a hypocrite to continue eating meat. They hated the thought of an animal being alive before, but not anymore solely to feed humans. I have always thought of it like this: if someone walked into a room and slaughtered a pig right in front of me, would I still eat it? No. So what was the difference if the same thing was happening to the pig where I couldn’t see it? We are okay with it as long as we can’t see it, but of course, that is based on opinion. 

Being a vegetarian has several health benefits if you do it correctly. According to several studies, vegetarianism has put people at a lower risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. If you’re avoiding meat, but only eating processed foods with extra sugar and not a lot of fruits and vegetables, you won’t be getting these benefits. Vegetarians tend to eat more high-fiber whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, which are lower in fat and sodium. Because of this, vegetarians tend to have better blood sugar levels and reduced cholesterol, which explains why vegetarians are one-third less likely to die or be hospitalized for heart disease. 

Vegetarians can be at risk for missing out on important vitamins that are found in meats, like protein, vitamin B, iron, and zinc. However, most researchers found that vegetarians do not lack these nutrients and find them in other foods, like eggs, beans, nuts, lentil, and many more. Some vegetarians even take vitamin supplements to make sure that they avoid a deficiency, so there really is no excuse. 

The more popular reason for being a vegetarian recently is the environmental benefits. Americans love their meat, which means we need plenty of large scale animal farms and farms to produce the food to feed those animals as well. To make space for all of these large farms, people are having to clear forests at a rate of seven football fields every minute, globally. As the world population increases, the amount of food needed increases as well, which means the amount of farms increases too. Livestock farming is responsible for 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions because of the methane that the animals produce. It may not seem like a lot but the United Nations claims that livestock farming produces more greenhouse gases than all the vehicles in the world. 

You could always slowly transition to a plant-based diet instead of jumping straight into it. Try dedicating one day out of the week to eat completely meatless or try eating smaller portions of meat. You could just cut red meat out of your diet and go for white meat or fish. Eat meat from a small, local farm instead of processed meat from corporations that have been through who knows what. Transition slowly and one day you might be able to stop eating meat altogether. 







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