general & nutritional concerns

  • A vegetarian is someone who chooses not to eat meat, fowl, or fish. There are numerous categories of vegetarians the list comprises of: lacto-ovo (consume dairy products and eggs), lacto (consume dairy products), fruitarian (only fruits, nuts and seeds), vegan (only products of non-animal origin), raw foodist and macrobiotics. Some chooses a combination of others as to what they wish to exclude from their diet, like the exclusion of only red meat, but not chicken or fish. They can be considered casual and semi vegetarians.

  • Naturally, you can. In fact, there is almost no way that a person can carry on eating meat without becoming unhealthy. Vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters with fewer incidences of numerous illnesses such as cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, stroke and heart attack. Regardless of your age group or sex group, a healthy vegetarian diet and lifestyle will provide all the nutrition that your body needs. There are mountains of medical researches to back up this claim.

  • Absolutely not. Many famous athletes, great scientists and thinkers are vegetarians. Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, Thomas Edison, Pascal, Socrates and many other giants of the scientific and philosophical fields are vegetarians. They are certainly far from being mentally deficient. On the athletic field, we have world champion and record holders like Dave Scott (6 times Ironman Triathalon winner), Edwin Moses (Olympic gold medalist and world record holder), Andreas Cahling (champion body builder), …just to name a few. Elephants, horses, cow and many other animals are vegetarians, and they have the best endurance and strength.

  • The protein myth is a big one. We absolutely do not need to acquire protein from meat. Protein from meat in fact do our body more harm than good. It is true that kids will need more protein than adults. Babies, in fact, require the most protein that we will ever need in our life. But nature has designed breast milk to consist only 5% of its calories as protein. A meat-eating diet often provides more than 20% of its calories from protein. Excessive proteins have been linked to many health problems such as osteoporosis (weakening of bones) and kidney problems, not to mention the many other problems from meat such as toxins, cholesterol and saturated fats. Protein from plant food is safe and sufficient, and it is almost impossible to be deficient in protein unless one is starved.

  • Doctors are not trained in nutritional matters. They have been trained to treat diseases with drugs and surgery, not prevent diseases with healthy diet and lifestyle. A Senate investigation revealed that the average physician in US received less than 3 hours of training in nutrition during the 4 years of medical school. The food guide pyramid recommended by the Singapore government closely follows that of the United States. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the pyramid in 1992. Recently, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) won its lawsuit against the USDA, bringing national attention to the heavy influence of the meat, dairy, and egg industries in the creation of federal food policies. U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson ruled that the USDA violated federal law by withholding documents revealing bias among its advisory panel. Nutritional evidences and statistics researched by responsible medical institutions and universities have not been taken seriously in the food policies. It is thus clear that financial interests often over-rule our health interests.

    There is simply no such thing as we have to take meat, or whatever food for that matter. Our body require nutrients, and it doesn’t matter where we get them so long as we get them. Plant foods can meet all the requirements of a healthy diet. To many people, nutritional advices have too often been contradictory and confusing. Why listen to others? Experiment yourself with a healthy vegetarian diet and discover the benefits now!

  • As with all diets, regardless meat or vegetarian, healthy living through diet depends on meal planning. As a vegetarian, the important concern is to eat a variety of plant foods from grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. A vegetarian diet can be unhealthy if one is negligent on proper eating, but a meat diet is easily much worse.

    Before you turned vegetarian you may, as a meat eater be deficient in a particular mineral or vitamin due to absorption and digestion problems and therefore may continue with your supplements. Your digestion and elimination will improve as a vegetarian and so over a period of time your colon will be cleansed, therefore your body may better assimilate food and get natural benefits without taking supplements.

    Vitamin D should be obtained from exposure to direct sunlight, twenty minutes three times per week. Vitamin B12 is known to be difficult to obtain from a pure vegetarian diet which is without any animal products. One may choose to take B12 supplements just to be on the safe side. Other than that, unless you have unique health problems, all other supplements like iron, zinc, B-vitamins supplements are not necessary. Special attention might have to be paid to calcium-rich plant foods. And women should pay extra attention to iron due to blood loss during periods. This is so even if you are a meat eater. Studies have shown that female vegetarians are not at higher risk than meat eaters to suffer from iron deficiencies.

  • Organic is certainly better for health, though eating only vegetarian food in itself is already a big improvement over an omnivorous diet that includes meat and fish. Organic food, compared to conventional food, is 63% higher in calcium, 59% higher in iron, 125% higher in potassium, 390% higher in selenium and so on. But the best is raw organic food if you can train your taste buds to accept uncooked food. That is how nature intended it and that is how all other animals take their food. Cooking our food kills off the nutrients (vitamins & minerals) and also vital enzymes that did in digestion and assimilation of your food before it leaves your alimentary canal as waste produce.

  • The original form of brown rice and brown bread is the unhusked fibrous version of the denutrified white rice and white flour. When wheat flour is refined into white flour, the following percentages of nutrients are LOST: protein-25%, fibre-95%, calcium-56%, iron-84%, zinc-76% and so on. It is a farce that these foods have been stripped of the essential nutrients and in the case of white bread most require enrichment of nutrients artificially as they had it stripped by being made from white flour, quite ridiculous!!

  • Firstly, you need to convince yourself on the path of vegetarianism. Get yourself informed. The VSS is more than happy to support you with facts and figures. When you have the conviction, you will find a way to make other people understand, and likely even be a positive influence on them. The VSS conducts cooking classes, monthly social dinners and event, workshops, exhibitions etc to lend support and social networking with other vegetarians in Singapore. There are numerous restaurants you can visit with friends and relatives that serve both a good selection of vegetarian and traditional non-vegetarian foods. Most importantly, remember that what you choose to eat plays only a minor role in your relationships with people, but a BIG role in your own health and the well being of the world.

  • It is part of the society’s objective to promote a healthy vegetarian diet and to improve the atmosphere of vegetarianism in Singapore. We can raise public awareness through campaigning and exhibitions. But we need YOU to help create the demand for healthy vegetarian foods. Create the demand and the supply will follow. There are already numerous organic and healthy vegetarian eateries scattered around Singapore.

    You can consult “Healthy Food Guide” which is available at major bookstores for S$4.80 or at many vegetarian restaurants and health food stores. Nothing really beats preparing your own food at home. Recipes are found all over books and the internet. Exercise your creativity and sense of exploration.

  • It should be noted that meat has been estimated to contain 14 times more pesticides than plant foods, and that is not surprising at all judging from the heavily pesticide-sprayed grains that livestock consumed, not to mention the toxins and antibiotics injected into them. Therefore, for anyone who is truly concerned with toxicity in food, the first most important step is to cut off all animal products including seafood. Going organic should be the next step, not the first.

    Organic produce are much higher in cost though they are often value for money due to their higher content of nutrients compared to conventional produce. For conventional produce, a “fruit and vegetable wash” can be used to reduce the harmful effects. Ideally, the “fruit and vegetable wash” should come from a reliable company.

    It is not conclusive that genetically modified food is harmful to us. But while researches are still being carried, it may be wise to avoid them if possible. The more popular produce, such as potato, corn, soybeans, tomatoes, etc, are the ones most likely to be genetically modified.

common arguments

  • Life is a great gift, and is certainly meant to be enjoyed! But why restrict enjoyment of life to the mere sensation of our taste buds? With a healthier body, a clearer and lighter mental disposition, we can surely enjoy life to its fullest. Meat, being full of toxins, chemicals, cholesterol, and fats harms the body and in the long run, turns our body into a prison when it cannot function optimally. More importantly, we will feel much better about ourselves when we know we are not contributing to animal suffering, environmental problems and world hunger by choosing a vegetarian diet.

    Moreover, when one claims to enjoy meat and seafood, he is actually enjoying the seasonings and not the meat itself! Whereas fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and many vegetables all have their own natural flavours that we can relish without seasoning or even cooking.

    Giving up meat doesn’t mean the end of food enjoyment. If we can make decaying flesh tastes mouth watering, we certainly can do the same for vegetarian dishes. And as our palate adjusts itself, we will come to appreciate the delightful and natural flavours of the wide variety of plant foods.

    Undoubtedly, life is meant to be enjoyed and this holds true for the animals as well. They are here to experience peace, joy and love too, just like we do. Can we really feel good when we enjoy ourselves at their expense?

  • Animals are not meant to be eaten by humans, just like humans are not meant to be eaten by a tiger for example. Just because we are able to, does not in itself give us the right to do so. To say that the whole purpose of the existence of animals is for human consumption is ignorant and egoistic. Animals yearn for freedom and to be alive. They are helpless and innocent. They have a capacity for love and feelings. Present-day factory farming has cause immerse fear and sufferings onto them. And we are paying with a multitude of health and environmental problems.

    If animals are meant to be eaten by humans, why would such a diet contributes significantly to our health problems? Why do the animals display such extreme fear and pain towards fulfilling their “meaning in life” to be eaten by humans?

  • Isaac Singer argued if that is the logic to justify the eating of animals, then we should not stop humans from killing other humans, as this has also been done since the earliest of time. It should be obvious that ‘looking back’ is not a good way to decide how we should act now. Slavery used to be a widely accepted practice and women used to be of low social status. We should not just accept things as they are just because they have been so. We need to look at our present-day situation and change whatever is no longer beneficial to the world. Please open your eyes to the world and health problems that meat production has caused now.

  • If that is the argument to carry on eating both plants and animals, it is certainly a hypocritical one. Indeed plants do have life. However, their nervous systems are very much simpler compared to that of animals and humans. Their capacity to feel pain and fear is so much lesser, which is not surprising since they are unable to react to them in the way humans and animals do. For us, fear and pain are basic survival instincts which enable us to fight or flight. For plants, fear and pain serve no purpose.

    Plants are the most precious life forms on Earth since only they can convert Sun energy into food for all other life forms. They are responsible for regulating the oxygen in our atmosphere as well. But which is worse: massive deforestation to clear land for meat production, extensive consumption of plants to fatten livestock to satisfy the affluent minority, or taking a plant’s life directly for human consumption?

    Some vegetarians choose a fruitarian diet, which comprises only of fruits, nuts and seeds, all of which can be obtained without taking the plant’s life. In fact, it is the part of the plant that it wants to give. It is their way of reproduction, by engaging the help from animals to spread their seeds. That is why fruits are so visually attractive, fragrant and delicious.

    We have to understand that there is no way we can completely eliminate the damage caused by our very existence. Somehow we step on grass or even ants. What we can do is to reduce the degree of our damage to the best of our ability. We have to eat to survive, but we have a choice. Choosing vegetarian is certainly a huge step towards a better world.

  • Not true. Ultimately the animals are killed for the same purpose and do not die of natural causes. At the moment of death, they still experience extreme sufferings from fear and pain, which will lead to a flood of toxins into their flesh. A vegetarian diet is a far better for our moral conscience and our health than eating any type of meat or seafood. Besides, if everybody in the world go for free-range animals, and the demand for meat remains the same, the damage on our environment will be far worse!

  • The life-cycle should naturally be based on the needs of each life forms, and not on taste. Moreover, the life-cycle is nothing but a show of the stronger over the weaker, and thus cannot be a basis where we humans as the highest life form with conscience should act. Just because we can does not mean we should. Lions will eat us if they overpower us; likewise we can eat them too if we overpower them. But should we? Need we? Do we exist just to satisfy our stomachs regardless of the cost, or do we live for a higher purpose on earth?

  • Eskimos don’t have to be vegetarian. They can’t. They are born in an environment where they don’t have the choice. Sadly, their average lifespan is only about 30 to 40 years old, and they have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world, of which their fish diet plays a significant part. In any case, Eskimos do have a choice of leaving their environment.

    The question now is do we have a choice? How should we exercise that choice for the benefit of our own health and the well being of our environment, the world and all other beings?

  • This entire article is taken from Jesus Veg.

    St. Jerome wrote: “As to the argument that in God’s second blessing (Gen. 9:3), permission was given to eat flesh–a permission not given in the first blessing (Gen. 1:29)–let him know that just as permission to put away a wife was, according to the words of the Savior, not given from the beginning, but was granted to the human race by Moses because of the hardness of our hearts (Mt. 19), so also in like manner the eating of flesh was unknown until the Flood …”

    It is a sign of our poorly developed theological understanding that anyone uses Genesis 9 to justify the violence and cruelty inherent in today’s factory farms and slaughterhouses. In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant “between [God] and [humans], and every kind of living creature.” It is important to recall that by the time of the flood, God had come to realize that human hearts are “set on evil from childhood” (Genesis 8), and it is in the context of evil that God allows both eating animals and slavery in Genesis 9 (it is interesting to read the congressional debate between 1820-1865, in which one finds U.S. senators and representatives utilizing Genesis 9 to justify slavery as a part of God’s plan). There are a host of stipulations about how to treat slaves and how to treat animals, but both are allowed, perhaps because by allowing them, God can then make them less vile by creating laws to temper human cruelty.

    In the instance of eating animals, God recognizes that people will eat animals (violence has already taken over the Earth) but admonishes that “you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is its blood.” This means little to us now, as most meat-eaters simply pick up a cellophane-wrapped hunk of meat from their grocer’s freezer. But in context, this is a revolutionary passage in defense of animal welfare. At the time when Genesis was written, people would routinely hack bits off of animals (e.g., a donkey’s leg or a camel’s hump) and then pack the wound in salt, keeping the animals alive in complete and utter misery. God recognizes that humans are going to kill and eat animals, just as God realizes that humans are going to hold slaves, neither of which are actions consistent with God’s ideal plan as presented in the Garden of Eden and the vision of Isaiah 11. Although God recognizes that people will eat meat, God requires that meat-eaters kill animals before eating them and sets up a variety of laws regarding the consumption of animals. “

    A complete reading of Genesis 9, with God’s covenant with all flesh, both humans and animals, as well as the begrudging line, “Fear and dread of you will be in all the animals …” paints a very clear picture of a God who is horrified by human violence and exploitation. It is hardly humanity’s finest hour when we find animals living in fear and dread of us. Who of us has not seen a dog or a cat who has been abused and cowers in fear of any human contact? Is this what we aspire to with cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals? Of course not.

    On today’s farms, animals are treated like machines, never granted the Sabbath rest required by God or any of the consideration that is their due as God’s creatures. Within days of birth, for example, cows have their horns torn from their heads and chickens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade. Male cows and pigs are castrated without painkillers. All of these animals spend their brief lives in crowded and ammonia-filled conditions, many of them so cramped that they can’t even turn around or spread a wing. Many do not get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. The animals are then hung upside down and their throats are sliced open, often while they’re fully conscious.

    The only legitimate Christian response to such mockery of God’s beautiful creatures is to adopt a vegetarian diet.

  • During the time of the Buddha 2500 years ago, there was no global warming to be concerned with. Now, the situation has changed and it is prudent to change along to practice compassion and wisdom, the two pillars of Buddhism.

    Compassion for the animals, humans and our future. Wisdom to see the interdependence of environment and humans and that eating meat is the no. 1 cause of global warming. The Buddha also did promote a number of ethical teachings that support vegetarianism.

    1. The first precept of lay Buddhists is avoid killing. Strictly speaking, it does not involve indirect killing, so it does not require Buddhists to be vegetarians, but pointing to a live fish to be killed for your dinner is considered breaking that precept.

      The thing to note is that avoid killing is the minimum. To develop on the concept, we can expand to include having caused the least indirect killing as much as possible by adopting a vegan diet. The positive part is to develop loving-kindness towards all sentient beings, including animals. At one point, one has to realize that the meat on one’s plate used to be an animal whom one had wished to be happy. Then, it would be easier to drop meat.
    2. Another aspect of Buddhism is right livelihood, part of the Noble Eightfold Path or the Middle Way that leads us out of suffering. Right Livelihood clearly states that meat or livestock trading is a wrong livelihood. Thus, if everyone practices Buddhism in a country, the whole country should be meat free. To buy one’s meat from people of other religions seems a bit exploitative and hypocritical as you avoid getting your hands dirty but pay someone else to do the job.
    3. The Buddha laid down the rule for monks and nuns to not eat meat if they have seen, heard or suspected that it was killed for them. In the age of industrialization and capitalism, the demand does necessary happen before the supply. Continuous demand for meat is the one that causes future supply and the animals killed now are to satisfy future demand when people buy the meat in the supermarket a few days later. To ignore this fact is not seeing the interdependence of economy in our modern world. Thus, when we demand for meat, the animals are killed for us. As lay people, we have a choice. Monastics do not have a choice, but we can choose for them. Thus, buying meat to serve monastics is creating demand and resulting in future death of animals.
    4. The Buddha’s cousin Devadatta was trying to make vegetarianism as a compulsory rule for the monastics, but the Buddha refused. However, the Buddha didn’t outright reject it and say you must only eat what you are given. The Buddha allowed each monk to choose for themselves if they wish to adopt this diet. Thus, given all the other reasons (mainly compassion and environment) to go vegan, a monk practicing a blameless life should also go vegan after being educated in the reasons.
    5. According to Buddhism, throughout countless lifetimes, we had been reborn; so, it is difficult to find a sentient being who has not been our relative in the past. Thus, the animals on the plate may very well have been our parents in some past life! Talk about losing appetite.

These responses were contributed by various VSS members and do not represent the official views of the Society.