Not only is July 4th Independence Day in the US, it is also Independence from Meat Day. This day, originally created by the Vegetarian Awareness Network in Tennessee, has grown beyond its original US-only focus to being an international day for celebrating a meat-free diet and lifestyle.
Arguments for and against eating meat has raged for years, and while there has been many scientific studies published on the health benefits of a meat-free diet, many of these are inconclusive, given the huge variability on human diets both with and without meat. Also, many of the health risks posed by processed meat, for example, has more to do with the chemicals and fats introduced as part of the processing, than it has with the meat itself.
Much stronger arguments are made on moral grounds against the slaughter of animals for human consumption, and many great thinkers have made succinct arguments for a meat-free diet. In the words of outspoken vegetarian George Bernard Shaw, “Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.”
The fact of the matter is that, despite evolving as omnivores, the human mouth and gut is such that we don’t need meat in our diets. Our bodies can extract the necessary nutrients from a plant-based diet, as long as you take care to provide your body with good alternative sources of the proteins and other nutrients typically found in a meat-diet. Growing children require more protein in their diet than adults, so vegetarian children need to make extra sure they get all the required nutrients in sufficient doses.
Vegetarian or not – it can’t hurt enjoying a meat-free day every so often. So give it a go – celebrate your Independence from Meat, wherever you are.