Is it better to be a vegetarian?

An   advertising  campaign  run  by  the  Vegetarian Society urging  people  to  give  up meat  to  avoid cancer   has  been condemned  by  the  Advertising Standards Authority.
The  campaign featured pictures of bodies  scarred
by operations to remove colon, stomach,  prostate and breast tumors.

The Vegetarian Society argues that the campaign followed studies by the World Cancer Research Fund in which it was recommended that consumers should cut back on the amount of red meat in their diet.

As the experts continue their struggle to identify the causes of cancer and the meat industry reels from the impact of the BSE crisis - Are we living in a society where it is better to be a vegetarian?

What youíve said so far:

Vegetarianism is a fad - cutting off an essential part of our omnivorous whole...
Roger Brookin, Japan

If you went to the slaugtherhouse to see how animals are killed, you wouldnít eat meat...
De Blois, Spain

I have been a vegetarian for around twenty years and I am the healthiest person I know...
Jon Livesey, USA

Is it better to be a vegetarian? Your reaction

We are built to be herbivores....if we were meant to eat meat weíd have large incisors. Indigestible red meat stays in the digestive tract for years causing various illnesses.
Christopher, UK

We do have K9 teeth therefore we have evolved to eat meat. It seems there is a moral issue because we have become more civilised. You never see a Tiger or a Monkey feeling sorry for its victim! I suppose that makes it a good thing morally but a bad thing physically.
Simon Cook, UK

We donít need to eat meat. It∆s cruel to let animals suffer so much.
H Borsje, Holland

Vegetarianism is silly. If we werenít supposed to eat certain animals, they wouldnít be edible would they? Furthermore, I resent vegetariansí attempts to convert us all. When they come round your house, they expect you to provide them with nothing but greens. But when you visit their place, they donít lay on meat for you. I think vegetarianism is an unhealthy fad. If no-one ate meat, what would we do with all those animals? Keep them as pets? I donít think so...
John Stephenson, UK

Out of 8 members of our family 5 are vegetarians, because that is our belief and right. We do not force other members of our family to go vegetarians. That is their right. All of us are healthy, both meat eaters and non-meat eaters!
Subramaniam, UK

Having read the above comments, might I suggest that the average intelligence of vegetarians is considerably higher than that of meat-eaters?
Jon Macfarlane, UK

I think to be a vegetarian is the healthest life. Therefore, I have been a vegetarian for 10 years. And I have never had a serious illness all these years. So what I am saying now, being a vegetarian is a wise decision for human being. Iím not saying that all people must change to being a vegetarian but Every one has a chance to make their own decision in his/her own life. Because I believe that everyone is free in this world we live in.
Alganesh Messel, England

Humans are omnivorous by nature. From the beginning of human history, people have been eating meat. I agree, there should be more humaine ways to slaughter animals (there are a lot of things that could be improved by the meat industry), but there is also a lot of things wrong with farming vegetables. genetically engineered vegetables and fruits could possibly be harmful to you. Bad farming techniques are widespread.
Kacper Wierzbicki, Canada

I think you can find a healthy balance without cutting out meat. If you eat meat from the right source - preferably it should be organic & free range - I think occasional consumption is harmless. I think to eat meat more than once/twice a week is excessive and unhealthy. We are omnivores, not carnivores.
Trystan Clarke, UK

Is it better to be a vegetarian? Should we not be asking on what basis people make INFORMED decisions to eat what they eat? How many people actually know what they are eating, let alone the methods used to produce the products they eat and the associated health implications?  Perhaps weíre a society that lives in ignorance, easily satiated by statistics, without any real concern about what weíre eating?
A Parker, UK

Vegetarianism is a fad - cutting off an essential part of our omnivorous whole. A bit like celibacy and being a recluse. However, people doing it, get a thrill from the denial. But they tend to proselytise - that adds to the thrill. All the vegetarians I know either cheat or are unutterably boring!!
Roger Brookin, Japan

Other than the obvious health benefits, the economic and philosophical ones come to mind. In particular, far less land is used to support one kilo of vegetarian protein than to feed an animal and produce one kilo of animal protein. Since agricultural land is something of a scarce resource, that seems to point to maximising usage of the resource.  Also, and more important to many compassionate people, the issue of how animals are treated and the effect of wholesale slaughter on human thought/action, seems to be a good argument for minimizing the practice of eating animals.
Finally, eating dead animals is quite unappetizing. Pure esthetics ought to lead most people to vegetarianism...

Dena Bugel-Shunra, Israel

Less animals will be killed and our kitchen refuse will not be full of rotten meat . This will stop rats from running around the house.

Lee Poh Le, Malaysia

Meat is good for you. The way the world was designed was so that humans could use animals for food. Vegetarians are missing out.
Joe Chambers, UK

Why is killing an animal different from killing a human?
Jayaram Govindarajan, India

If you went to the slaugtherhouse to see how animals are killed, you wouldnít eat meat. The people want remain oblivious.
De Blois, Spain

Meat, in general, is a very heavy food. When the animal is killed it is frightened, and all the adrenalin from that fear is spread throughout its body. When you eat its meat you are also getting the adrenalin and fear of the animal. Meat is hard to digest. It is also ecologically wasteful - if you took the grain that is given to cattle and gave it directly to humans you could feed many, many more people than if you eat its meat. There is no real reason to eat meat - it is just a psychological addiction.
Suvarna Freeman, USA

The hazards of improper handling, storage, processing (cooking) and serving seem to be vastly greater in sources of food that belong to the animal kingdom. This is particularly true in the developing countries where standards in general are pretty low. To quote what one of my professors always liked to say: The best way of solving a problem is to eliminate the problem. All we can do is minimize the chances of risk to our lives.
Pradeep Karve, India

I would say there is no doubt whatsoever that killing animals for oneís sustenance is immoral, involving as it does such tragic loss of life. It is a fact that animals do not wish to be killed and like to enjoy life to the utmost, just as any human would. Thus, slaying of these poor defenceless creatures is tantamount to crime, and must be abhorred.  Until that happens, men have no right to call themselves a civilised race.
Raghav Narayanan, India

I think everything in excess is bad for our health. No doubt obesity and coronary artery diseae (CAD) are a major health problem, but genetics play a very vital role all diseases. I still believe in heatlhy diet and avoiding animal fats. I also believe that western lifestyle is getting too ridiculous and we all are playing a price for that.

Jatinder Aulakh, MD, USA

It is highly unethical & indefensible !! Be a vegetarian!
Anand Narayanan, India

Roopa Narayana, India

I feel that if one becomes a vegetarian for health reasons then one should also completely stop eating all the other ŰunhealthyŲ foods like Choclates, Ice Creams, etc. Personally, I feel moderation in foods is what one should focus on and not an extreme position like completely abandoning a very delicious array of foods.On the other hand, if one becomes vegetarian because they feel killing animals for food is bad, then this becomes more of a ŰreligiousŲ debate where convincing someone is not very easy. Personally, I feel killing animals for food is perfectly okay as long as we maintain a balance.  After all, this is how Nature (or God) made all the different species, that is to use other species for food.
Iqbal Khan, USA

I have been a vegetarian for around twenty years and I am the healthiest person I know. I am also, according to my doctor, the healthiest person he knows. I am, quite literally, never sick, and I have never experienced any kind of weight problem.
The only thing I regret about vegetarianism is that it has gradually become the all-purpose cause for every activist, loudmouth and plain loony who requires an excuse to inflict themselves on society.  In my humble opinion, activists have about the same relationship to vegetarianism as Bible Belt fundies have to Christianity: that is, they need it, but it doesnít need them.
Jon Livesey, USA

Fashion should not be allowed to dictate something that so fundamentally effects our health, and I am concerned that it is highly fashionable at present to be a veggie. This is supported by the food industry that sees vegetarian food as a way of improving itís margins. Meat free meals cost less to produce, yet are usually no cheaper than their meat containing equivalents.
In this world of multinational corporations expecting profit growth year after year, there are few options to improve the profitability of food (people can only eat so much food in a day), unless you can con the consumer into paying more for less, as is the case with a vast majority of prepared vegetarian dishes.
Jon Richards, UK

Everything is good if taken in limited amounts. Even if youíre a vegetarian, over-eating makes you unhealthy too.
Andrew Menezes, USA

I think that on the whole, vegetarians tend to take more interest in the quality and variety of their diet, than non-vegetarians. This may account for the lower incidence of certain diseases amongst vegetarians.  However I am sure that a balanced diet including meat is just as good as a purely vegetarian diet. In my opinion the only reasons for choosing to follow vegetarianism would be concern over factory farming and/or animal rights issues, and it is for these reasons that I choose to be a vegetarian.
William Ferreira, UK

Reducing the intake of meat products reduces the intake of harmful, saturated fats to your body. Any move away from eating animal products will decrease this intake leading to, in the long-term, decreased possibility of (at the very least) coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a major killer in the UK every year and costs the NHS millions of pounds per annum to treat.
Steve Humby, UK

I have been a vegetarian for around 12 years which I became partly because of a dislike of modern farming methods, and partly because I wasnít overly keen on much meat. It would be far better to improve farming techniques so that we all can eat more organic food which is as free from toxins as possible.
Carol Hayward, UK

I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years now. I made the change on mostly moral grounds. I found it increasingly difficult to balance my love of animals with the fact that I was regularly having them killed to satisfy my taste buds.
I believe it is better for the body, mind and soul to be vegetarian.  However it must be a personal choice. Iím sure my mind, body and soul would be better off if I didnít drink so much alchohol - but Iím not ready yet!
Paul Gething, UK

People are omnivore, designed by nature to eat both meat and plants, therefore why should we try and deny this. Farmed animals are well looked after, and people should not feel quilty for eating them, this is just how it has always been, and will be in the future for all living things. Mass vegetarianism will be catastrophic for the rural community, but was it not lately stated that vegetarians put more pressure on the environment in the production of food than non-vegetarians?
H. V. Lloyd, UK

I believe that meat is an essential part of a balanced diet. There is a risk with everything that we eat but if we donít eat there we will suffer a greater risk.
D Inder, UK

Itís eating lower down the food chain, so: it takes less agricultural production to make your meal; thereís less opportunity to accumulate nasties in the process of production; itís easier to make the food go round. However there are no failsafe diets. I think the arguments for vegitarianism are much more environmental in character. Vegetarians potentially make less impact because we eat plants instead of getting animals to eat them and then eating the animals. I donít like some of the self-centred and moralistic arguments for vegetarianism.
Paul Hubert, UK

Lets face the human has also been caniverous, and always will be in some form or other... even if it kills us.
Ian McGrane, Birmingham, UK

Meat is an excellent form of protein. Why should various forms be banned when the chance of fatal disease is astronomically low? I would far rather the government issued a public health notice than played nanny!  Animals were created by God for men to eat. And by God man, Iíll eat mine!
Gordon Macmillan, UK

We are naturally hunter gathers so evolved to eat both animal and plant.  The problem is meat is currently treated to so much handling and processing it is often far removed from the fresh meat that was consumed only a few generations ago.
The UK meat industry has standards above most of Europe but it is very hard to know the source of meat products today. We also live in a world where we no longer need to eat meat and many of us eat far too much meat. Meat was once a luxury, was fresh, and was not a constant part of the average diet. Now processed meat is cheap to buy and fast to eat.  With so many small risks building up from processed meat there are fewer and fewer arguments to eat meat at all.
Stewart Dean, UK

The reduction in risk to health with a vegetarian diet is obvious - clearly fruit/vegetables are better for your digestion precess than meat is (the Word Health Organisation advises that meat be used at most as a condiment for this reason).
I agree also with Professor Lacey who discusses the very real possibility that over the nex ten years or so we may see are significant proportion of the population of England go slowly mad with CJD thus overwhelming the NHS.
The notion that eating meat is worth this and other risks (eg E Coli/ Salmonella etc) is plainly silly. I think that the sooner the meat industry collapses in England the better for us all!
Mike McLoughlin, UK

I have been a vegetarian for eight years. I am not one of these eat-no-meat pushers. I believe that it should be the choice of the individual whether to be vegetarian or not. The vegetariansí latest campaign will only increase the reluctance to listen to the vegetarian arguement amongst meat-eaters. It is inevitable that whenever I go out somewhere to eat, as soon as someone finds out I am vegetarian there then begins the inevitable questions and jokes from the meat-eaters.   Surely the Vegetarian Society would be better to start a campaign that tries to make meat-eaters understand why we are vegetarian and re-assure people that if they eat meat that is there decision. Just as if I want to go to the pub and drink.
Stephen Wiles, UK

The human digestive system is not designed to process meat - our digestive tract is too long. Major carnivores have an intestine 3 - 4 times their body length (and remember they are eating freshly killed meat), ours is 30 times our body length, which means meat begins to decay while still in the system; hence the risk of colon cancer.
Dominic Elson, UK

I would rather smoke than eat meat!Itís nice to be able to grow and eat all the first-class proteins without killing animals; at the same time, chimps are ocassionally carnivorous, so humans probably need flesh or fish now and again.
Margery Hawkins, UK

Nothing gives us the right to mass slaughter other animals purely for our own taste satisfations.
Eran James, South Africa

Human beings are not designed to be herbivores. Neither are we meant to be exculsively carnivorous. In fact we are one of the lucky few animals on earth that have the choice to be able to survive on almost any diet that we choose. I can see no good reason to give up an ability (and pleasure) that our genetic ancestors bequeathed to us.
Bobby Lynn, Singapore

It is a luxury that not many people can afford, there are many places on earth where vegetation is scarce and people have to rely on animals and their products.
Vegetarians are in general weaker in their physical structure, I work in a physically demanding enviroment where I have seen strict indians eating meat or eggs at leat once a week to keep up ? Finally : If we were not supposed to eat animals ..why are they made of meat :)
Anwar Zaben, Jordan

I have been a vegeterian from birth for religious reasons and donít plan to change in future. But I feel balanced diet and exercise can keep anybody healthy (vegeterians and non vegeterians).
Krishnakumar, USA

A well balanced diet is the healthy answer. Or to quote a well used cliche Űeverything in moderationŲ. Having said that, for lent this year I gave up eating meat, for the exception of one day in a Yorkshire prison, and at the end of the six weeks felt really good.
David Palmer, Germany

I am not a vegetarian and I donít think vegetarians should try and foist their preferences on me. Man is an omnivore. In the same vein, I have never smoked, but would not presume to tell smokers to stop smoking.  Surely adults should be free to choose their lifestyles without interference from others?
K. Dodds, Namibia

If you start feeding sheep to cows, things are going to start getting a little screwed up. At the end of the day, no none needs to eat meet for health reason, so you are just doing it for pleasure. It therefore seems to be quite similar to hunting or wearing fur - can you live with that?
Jim Kent, UK

I have been a semi-vegetarian for 8 years. What began as a health issue soon took on a personal moral dimension. What has been surprising to me is the extreme defensiveness of meat-eaters when I simply state my preference, as if they feel my personal choice implies a value judgement on them as people.
My belief is that this defensiveness is coming from within them, and if they feel that way they should look inside themselves, since that is where the sense of judgement originates.
Andrew Kogerma, USA

Animals are to be protected and loved, not killed for food, especially when there are other choices.
Vivek S. Savur, USA

I wish youíd be more precise when you ask questions... Vegetarianism is better in many senses from the moral to the simple use of resources.   The problem is that it is difficult to see is as generally better when it exists in a vacuum and the results of vegetarianism, say increased food production, are not made available to those who need them.
Therion Ware, Malaysia

I have been a vegetarian since 1981, and I think this life style has been beneficial to my health. And I, personally, feel better about not killing animals. Eating meat is simply a non-issue for me now. I wouldnít even dream of going back to eating it again.
Marilyn Waterston, USA

Being a vegetarian is not about seeking to live longer or because it is cheaper. It is about the quality of life. Vegetarianism is one of many facets of lifestyle that does this.
Eating meat is an aspect that causes cancer, so is poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of fresh air, lack of water and state of mind. It is important to look at the whole picture when considering the question of cancer.
Paul Fletcher, UK

For health reasons I am a vegetarian but I donít feel morally superior to meat eaters. I respect their choice and it is up to an individual to choose to eat or not eat meat.
Ben Arasu, Canada

Meat eating is a habit people fall into for lack of imagination. I donít know how many times Iíve heard someone say I canít cook a meal without a meat dish to base it around.Ų People are afraid to try vegetarianism but if they did they would find great cookbooks and huge possibilities.
Rhonda Airriess, Canada

Iím vegetarian so obviously I believe that itís better to be a vegetarian - for me. Itís nothing to do with moral high grounds, simply something that I am happy with. Campaigns such as the current one risk a backlash but if they force people to look at what they do, and why they do it, then thatís OK. There is no compulsion to change but there may be the prompt to do some reassessment.
M.E Macleod, Scotland, UK

Many vegetarians do not seem to be aware that there are many nutrients in meat which are less readily available in vegetables, such as proteins, amino acids, etc. While there are equivalents to these that are found in vegetable sources, some vegetarians do not replace these nutrients from meat with others from vegetables, and could face some health problems. Like anything, excessive consumption of meat is deleterious, and all things should be kept in balance and moderation for good health. Too much of anything is bad.
Mark Lind, USA

Reply to Mark Lind: all the nutrients obtained from animals can be obtained from non-animal sources too.
Vegetarian food is delicious, much more fun to cook than anything else.Paul, Mexico

What people eat is, and should remain, a matter of choice. There are many causes of cancer and itís very simplistic to suggest that simply stopping eating meat is a sure-fire way to avoid it. By and large, people eat less meat now than before, largely because of price, but the incidence of cancer is, if anything, rising.

The best advice is probably to eat a balanced diet, which may or may not include meat, and to avoid worrying over all the scare stories and pressure-group propaganda surrounding food!
Neil Tonks, UK

Itís a far more efficient use of resources to produce and consume food from plants rather than via animals.
John McCarthy, UK

I do not eat meat. Whether or not this is good for me is not the issue.  People can argue round in circles whether eating meat is bad for humans or not - they cannot dispute the fact that it is bad for the animals.
Dan Jeffery, UK

Nature gets us all in the end: a vegetarianís death isnít necessarily going to be more dignified than anyone elseís.
Simon Moore, USA

Vegetarianís always take the moral high ground - and for no reason. If they want to make a personal choice - fine, but everything has related problems, and people have been eating meat since time began. Sure, there have been vegetarians too - but nothing makes them better than anyone else.
Mike Hoskins, York, UK

I donít eat any meat; Iím a vegetarian. I gave up eating meat at university, because (a) itís disgusting to cook, (b) itís not as nutritious as alternatives like soya, © itís expensive, and (d) the collegeís vegetarian food was the least inedible option. Within six months Iíd completely lost the taste and craving for meat, my digestion had settled down, and my taste buds had developed a new sensitivity.   Nowadays even the tiniest bit of unexpected meat in food leaves me with an overpowering dead flesh taste in my mouthýitís really quite repulsive, and I donít know how I used to believe it was normal. The health bonuses of a vegetarian diet are merely a fringe benefit.
Mathew, USA

I have been a vegetarian for about 13 years, not for health reasons though as I both smoke and drink too much. Although I support any move to encourage people to eat less meat - using pictures of post cancer operation patients is totally unacceptable - are they using the same ad agency as Benetton?
Bridget, UK

I have no doubts that a predominantly vegetarian diet is healthier.  However, not eating meat at all for health reasons alone is a bit absurd. As with everything, moderation is the key. In any case if meat eating was bad for us, evolution would have guided us away from it.  Maybe it will yet.
Harbir Singh, USA

Variety in diet, and moderation as suggested by Harbir Singh, is clearly the best solution.
Mike Sadler, Malaysia

Think about our consumer insistence on vegetables free of blemishýdid you know that most of these are sprayed up to 30 times during their maturity with a range of chemicals designed to kill living animal cells.  Not So with meat !!!!!
Raymond Jones, UK

Meat eating makes you hyper and aggressive ,not in a positive sense but negative. A thought that meat eating makes you stronger is contradicted by fact that worldís most muscular and strong animals are herbivores ( Elephant , Rhino). Food is the most important factor in a Humanís behaviour . In fact meat is just a stimulant like any other such products which are needed when you feel low about yourself.
Kripal Singh Saini, India

I would have thought that our omniverous teeth indicate the dietary needs.
Guy Chapman, Malaysia

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