Reasons why vegetarian dietary patterns are good for our lives

Reasons why vegetarian dietary patterns are good for our lives

An insight into vegetarianism in modern days

With the progress of globalization and mixing of cultures, vegetarianism, which is believed to date back to the 7th century BCE (Olivelle, 1998), has been widely adopted by many people for reasons including improving physical health, religious beliefs, pursuing a better body figure and concerns about environmental issues like global warming, enhancing the biodiversity and protecting the animal welfare. From the perspective of health, evidence (Diabetes care, 2011) shows that people with a vegetarian dietary pattern are less likely to have metabolic syndrome. However, there are also some problems when people follow a vegetarian diet, especially for certain groups like athletes competing in games where there are strict standards about the athletes’ body weight (Cialdella-Kam, 2016). The research illustrates different types of vegetarian diets and compares the difference between them to help people choose the diet which fits them the most. Also, my research shows the arising benefits when people choose to live a vegetarian life and some of the drawbacks concerning the intake of daily nutrition and energy availability. For people having religious beliefs, there are some concepts and creeds that make them become vegetarian. Last but not least, showing the environmentally friendly impact of having a vegetarian diet, which produces less carbon footprint compared with that of non-vegetarians, is another hypothesis of this research. The relevant scientific data will be collected from published journals and official documents. However, there are some other reasons for people to become vegetarian such as showing concerns for animal welfares and the ethics of eating meat which are not included in this research but they still matter.



Vegetarianism is a practice in which people avoid consuming meat including red meat, poultry, seafood or any other flesh of animals in their daily life. Some types of vegetarian diets differ in the exclusion and inclusion of foods. A vegan diet excludes any meat, eggs or dairy while a Lacto-vegetarian diet, which is the most common kind of vegetarian diet, includes dairy products like milk, cheese, cream, and butter. In contract with a Lacto-vegetarian diet, an ovo-vegetarian diet excludes dairy products but allows eggs. The vegetarian diet which allows both eggs and dairy is called ovo-Lacto vegetarian diet. The practice for people who focus on vegetarian diets but eat meat occasionally are called semi-vegetarianism, also known as flexitarian (Jolinda 2019).


There are many reasons for people to decide adopting a vegetarian diet, and health factors can be the top of these reasons. For instance, Rizzo correlated various eating patterns with medical indexes including metabolic risk factors (MRFs) and the metabolic syndrome (MetS). Rizzo compared the outcomes for people eating various diets and found that vegetarians have far lower metabolic risk factors and are less likely to have metabolic risk factors in comparison with nonvegetarian ones. The researchers intentionally chose a group of elderly people with an average age of 60 to show more obviously the difference in their health condition from variable diet patterns. It is a representative and meaningful research that proves vegetarian dietary patterns help people to maintain a better physical condition because they lower metabolic risk factors (MRFs) and the metabolic syndrome (MetS). When people choose a vegetarian diet, they reduce their consumption of tallow, which is contained in meat and it is beneficial for their health in the long-term.


Religious beliefs

For Hare Krishna devotees, the Christian Seven-Day Adventists and Buddhists, religious factors are the main reason why they adopt vegetarianism. The vegetarian dietary pattern of Hare Krishna has an origin which dates back to the middle twentieth century and links to the tradition of Vaishnavism in ancient India. After accepting this religious belief, Hare Krishna devotee vows to abstain from many things which include meat consumption (Rochford 1995). For Buddhists, vegetarianism is an option, not a compulsory requirement. Those devotees choose vegetarian dietary patterns because they are trying to develop a higher level of consciousness where the balance between the surrounding environment and the body of themselves are maintained by avoiding eating meat. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a relationship with a movement that took place in the nineteenth century called ‘Christian Physiology’. The meaning of the movement has its role in promoting health senses and helping people develop their morality by adopting vegetarianism (Le Blanc 1997). In a study carried out in 2010, the author Nath pointed out that these religious groups have a spirituality that is visible, tangible and biological which is described as bio-spirituality.

Bio-spirituality, a concept introduced in this article which includes embodiment, faith, health and daily worship, represents the relationship between spiritual belief and the natural environment. Related data were collected by carrying out interviews with devotees not only inside religious places such as temples but also outside of them. The findings indicate that Hare Krishna devotees have the most explicitly bio-spiritual motivations for vegetarianism and the data reveals three interrelated themes which constitute bio-spirituality in Hare Krishna social life. One of the most representative elements is about how ‘God’ or Krishna is perceived. Some people vehemently believe that ‘God is a vegetarian’ which means that adopting a vegetarian diet is a significant doctrine for the Hare Krishna.

Greenhouse gas emission

Reducing meat consumption substantially by choosing vegetarian dietary patterns is important to cut off the amount of greenhouse gas emission. Steinfeld et al examined the influence of vegetarian Mahayana Buddhists on global warming or greenhouse gas emissions. They showed that the total reduced equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by Mahayana Buddhists having vegetarian and vegan diets are 48.23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which accounts for respectively 11.3% and 8.9% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from France and the UK in 2012. This estimation proves that the vegetarian Mahayana Buddhists have a positive impact on the environment and emphases the meaning of adopting a vegetarian diet. Related data of this research such as meat consumption was collected from Buddhists in certain groups from different countries or regions where Mahayana Buddhism dominant, including China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. One of the major sources of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is the livestock industry (Steinfeld 2006). To combat global warming, people can reduce their carbon footprints by changing their food consumption behaviour from a non-vegetarian diet to a semi-vegetarian diet or a vegan one.


However, there still have some problems with living a vegetarian life such as depression and insufficient nutrition intakes. One study shows that vegetarian men are more likely to suffer from depression possibly caused by nutritional deficiencies (Joseph 2018). Also, another group of researchers suggest that female athletes who adopt a vegetarian diet can experience insufficient intake of essential fatty acids, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Zinc. Moreover, the researchers pointed out that while vegetarian diets can lower body mass index (BMI) along with a lower risk of chronic disease, these benefits may also be due to exercise. However, the impact of potential synergistic or additional benefits has not been examined by other researchers when combining vegetarian diets and a pro-exercise lifestyle together (Cialdella-Kam 2016). In that case, choosing a vegetarian diet is not certainly beneficial and safe and people should be careful with dietary planning. This is especially important for athletes competing in weight-sensitive sports, who can be at risk of low energy availability as a result of restricting energy intake, and even people who wish to keep healthy. Also, people who adopt a vegetarian diet might keep a healthy meat-based diet before, so the influence of sudden changes in the dietary pattern is not clear in which case they should consult with nutritionists for professional advice if necessary.


People choose vegetarian dietary patterns for reasons like perceiving health benefits and weight-control goals, religious beliefs, and concerns related to social impacts or environment issues. Less meat consumption certainly contributes to less greenhouse carbon emissions which is a positive impact for the Earth. People with a vegetarian diet have a smaller risk of overweight-related diseases. For those who adopt vegetarianism because of religious beliefs, people should give respect to them and embrace cultural diversity by understanding the spirituality and concepts behind. Last but not least, when changing their existing diets, people should be careful and pay attention to daily nutrition intake to avoid insufficiency of essential nutrition.


  1. Cialdella-Kam, L., & Kam, C. (2016). Vegetarian diets and exercise: A review of the literature. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 407-415.

  2. Joseph, S. (2018). Vegetarianism and depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 232, 1-8.

  3. Le Blanc, P. (1997). The Seventh-day Adventist Church and vegetarianism: A historical perspective. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 97(10), 1081-1084.

  4. Nath, S. (2010). Bio-spirituality: A new paradigm for understanding vegetarianism. Journal of Religion and Health, 49(2), 201-214.

  5. Rochford, R. (1995). Vegetarianism and the Hare Krishna movement. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 95(10), 1111-1113.

  6. Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M., & de Haan, C. (2006). Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.