Stacks of studies confirm that a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and soy is your best bet for living a longer, healthier and more enjoyable life. At the same time, you’re doing the planet a huge favor by helping to preserve natural resources and cutting down on pollution generated by animal agriculture. Plus, you may appreciate your wonderful meals even more knowing that no animals suffered along the way. There are literally hundreds of great reasons to switch to a plant-based diet. Here are some of the best we’ve heard.
You’ll live a lot longer
Vegetarians live about seven years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University And a British study that tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for 12 years found that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases.
You can put more money in your mutual fund
Replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.
You’ll reduce your risk of cancer
A study in The International Journal of Cancer concluded that red meat is strongly associated with breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute says that women who eat meat every day are nearly four times more likely to get breast cancer than those who don’t.
You’ll provide a great role model for your kids
“If you set a good example and feed your children good food, chances are they’ll live a longer and healthier life,” says Christine Beard, a certified nutrition educator and author of Become a Vegetarian in 5 Easy Steps (McBooks Press, 1997). “You’re also providing a market for vegetarian products and making it more likely that they’ll be available for the children.”
You’ll help protect the purity of water
It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, but just 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. Not only is this wasteful, but it contributes to rampant water pollution.
Your meals will taste delicious
“Vegetables are endlessly interesting to cook and a joy to eat,” says Deborah Madison, founding chef of Greens restaurant in San Francisco and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books, 1997). “It’s an ever-changing parade of flavors and colors and textures and tastes. Everyone can enjoy them, but vegetarians are more likely to think about cooking and eating vegetables.”
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