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Explainer: Vegetarianism

<p>It's the best Holy Week and Earth Day plan</p>
by Lou E. Albano | Apr 19, 2011
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Because it’s Earth Day on Thursday, and it’s Holy Week this week, a two-in-one plan: Vegetarianism. [firstpara]

Giving up meat could be your Holy week’s self-inflicted sacrifice, which in turn could also be your Earth Day  exercise (your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is lessened!).

That’s not even mentioning the health benefits of turning green, the weight loss that comes from giving up meat, general well-being, and so on.

It’s becoming rather popular that having types of vegetarianism abound: there are those who call themselves vegan, pescatarians, ovo-lacto. So to shush your mind, an FAQ on vegetarianism. Happy Earth Day, people! And a happy Holy, as well!

What is vegetarianism?
Vegetarianism is giving up meat—pork, beef, chicken, fish, everything with a face, essentially—and subscribing to a plant-based diet.

Why would people want to give up bacon and his equally great kind?
People do it for a lot of reasons. There’s religion like Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism that don't really say their bretheren cannot eat meat, mind. It's that they encourage them not to.

There’s health reasons—they need to bring down their cholesterol, they’re high blood, heart problems, health concerns that can be addressed by giving up meat. There are those that give up meat because they love animals so much and believe in their rights.

And there are the new-age environmentalists who simply believe in living harmoniously with the world.

But meat. Burgggger. Bacon. Protein. Where do vegetarians get their protein?
Vegetarians turn to tofu, peanuts, beans, lentils, and whole wheat to get their protein. Depending on what they’ve given up, cheese, milk, and eggs also complete the usual suspects.

"Depending on what they’ve given up," you say. Why, are there other things besides meat that vegetarians give up?
Herein lies the confusion. Maybe you’ve seen things like “vegan” or you heard a blind date say she’s “ovo-lacto” etcetera. Essentially, vegetarianism is not eating meat. Some people, however, because of health reasons or what-have-you, need their fish. So now, they call themselves, “pescatarian.” Others, because they need their cake and ice cream, need their dairy. So now, they call themselves, “ovo-lacto-vegetarians.”

And then there are those that go to the extreme: The vegans. Vegans do not consume anything from animals, not even byproducts. As in, no eggs, or milk, or cheese, or gelatin because some of those are made with the bone marrow of animals.

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So as you may deduce, it’s a very very difficult thing vegans chose to do. No regular bread because there’s milk in there, no ice cream, no cake. They even approach salad dressing with utmost care and vigilance.

And like those who become vegetarians for animal rights, vegans have also given up using leather—as in leather shoes, leather wallets, leather bags—because for them, that’s the same as eating meat.

How is vegetarianism earth-friendly, huh?
The excrement animals farmed for meat contributes “18% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions,” reports The Guardian.

Besides, an animal farm can generate as much waste as an entire city, or continues The Guardian article so that’s a whole lot of pollution to try and revert. By transitive theory of geometry, saying no to meat is tantamount to saying no to pollution.

We know that a few shortages are happening right now—rice shortage has been talked about a few weeks ago, water is resource fast-depleting—here’s a bit put forward by Peta: “A vegetarian consumes only 300 gallons of water a day while 4000 gallons of water a day is needed to produce a typical meat-based diet.”
Obviously, vegetarianism subscribes to the eco-friendly less is more dictum.

This is a terribly difficult life to lead.
Not so, actually. It may be mighty inconvenient but with the world going haywire, not to mention your weight problem, vegetarianism could just be worth the inconvenience.

At work, you can bring your baon for lunch, saving you 1) calories (because you would be able to calculate the serving size of your meal, at not have to eat huge portions from restaurants), 2) money, and for our tree-hugging friends, 3) waste (if you brought your baon 5 days a week, you save 5 styrofoam packages already. It might not sound much but put together, that’s a lot of waste you saved the earth from).

More and more vegetarian-places are coming up (check out spot.ph’s list of vegetarian friendly restos) but more importantly, more and more restaurants are coming up with vegetarian-friendly choices on their menu. If you really want to try, it shouldn’t be too hard. We mean, Sir Paul McCarthy has done it, Alicia Silverstone has done it, and on the homefront, the likes of Geneva Cruz has done it. So yes, it can be done.

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You don't have to scare yourself thinking you'll never have steak and eggs for breakfast. Start slowly: How about you stay away from beef once or twice a week? If you like how that feels, add pork to your list. Or maybe, you escalate it to three times a week. Really, it becomes purgatorial if you think it to be.

WORDS BY LOU E. ALBANO
PHOTO COURTESY OF PETA

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