Vegetarianism: benefits for sustainability & health

Looking at the research, vegetarianism can have several advantages over the omnivorous diet.  Not only is it more sustainable for the earth and human population in an environmental sense, but also in relation to health.   Several diseases can be prevented or treated by vegetarian diets – benefits being found for longevity and conditions such as cardiovascular (Heart) disease, hypertension (High Blood Pressure), diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, renal (kidney) disease, dementia, gallstones and rheumatoid arthritis (Leitzmann, 2005).

In relation to sustainability – the cultivation of crops uses much less land and energy than the production of animals for meat.  Think of the amount of grain one cow might consume on a farm in their lifetime.  This grain could instead be used for human consumption.  The grain needs to be harvested and transported to the cattle farm. The cow also requires land to graze on – which can involve a large amount of clearing and deforestation.  Cropping can also involve land clearing, but the scale  is significantly less.  Therefore, farming animals requires more environmental resources – and creates higher Carbon Dioxide emissions than growing crops.  It is therefore more sustainable for the environment to eat only plant matter.

Sheep in a field

Sheep in a field


Crops and Industrial production

Crops and industrial production

Since I was very young (maybe 5 years old) my natural instinct was to dislike meat.  I would pick it out of all my meals and I didn’t like the fact it came from animals.  My parents were not vegetarian and we always ate a well balanced diet in our household.  From about 13 years old, I stopped eating meat altogether and started doing some cooking of my own.  Fifteen years on and  I have not looked back – I am still a vegetarian and I find no disadvantages.  About ten years ago, I had a brief year or two as a vegan, but went back to being a vegetarian due to the difficulty in social situations.  I don’t drink cow’s milk and I do sometimes consider becoming a vegan again  for reasons such as concern for the environment, love of all beings on this earth and potential for health improvement.


Leitzmann, K. (2005) ‘Vegetarian Diets: what are the advantages’, Diet Diversification and Health Promotion, Germany.


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