Recently, vegetarian diets have been gaining popularity all over the world. According to the International Vegetarian Union, there are approximately 180 million vegetarians worldwide. In Tampere, Finland, McDonald’s is testing a vegan burger, called “McVegan,” using a bean-made patty. Also, Germany’s famous chocolate company Ritter Sport has launched a vegan chocolate, which was made using only raw vegetable materials, excluding dairy products like butter. This phenomenon is spreading in Korea as well. According to the Korean Vegetarian Association, the number of vegetarians in Korea is about 1 million to 1.5 million, which is 2 percent of the total population. As vegetarianism has become more popular, vegetarian-related markets have also grown rapidly as well. For example, the vegetarian milk Real Coconut Milk made by Dr. Chung’s Food sold 1 million units in the first three months of its release. Additionally, on the shopping mall website 11th Street, soy meat sales have increased more than 57% compared to the previous year in 2016. Also, domestic vegetarian restaurants and bakeries have doubled in number over the last five years. Even the word Vegenomics, a combination of vegetables and economics, has been created! This all proves how love vegetarian diets are getting all over the globe.
It is often easy to think that vegetarians live by eating only vegetables and fruits. In fact, there are many types of vegetarians depending on what they eat. Here are the seven types of vegetarian. The first type is “flexitarians,” who do not eat meat and are vegan most of the time, but they sometimes do eat meat depending on the circumstances. The second type is “pollo vegetarian.” Pollo vegetarians can consume poultry, eggs, milk and dairy produce, but they do not eat red meat like pork or beef. The third type is “pesco vegetarian.” Pesco vegetarians can eat chicken and fish, but not eggs, dairy produce, or red meat. the fourth type is “lacto-ovo vegetarian,” who can consume eggs, milk, and dairy produce, but they do not consume fish or other seafood. The fifth type is “ovo vegetarians.” Ovo vegetarians can consume eggs, but not seafood, milk or dairy produce. The sixth type is “lacto vegetarian.” Lacto vegetarians can consume milk and dairy, but not seafood or eggs. Last but not least, there are “vegans,” the most famous type of vegetarians. Vegans only eat vegetables and fruits. Some vegans do not even eat honey and refuse to use products made using animals.
Why do these seven types of people choose vegetarian diets over meats? Well, first of all, some people do not eat meat because of their religion. The representative religions that forbid the eating of meat are Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. In modern society, some people choose to eat meat even though they are religious, but many religious people still do not eat meat. Secondly, people choose a vegetarian diet because of health issues. A vegetarian diet which is high in antioxidants, dietary fiber, magnesium, and minerals helps lower blood cholesterol. Vegetarian diets also reduce the risk of heart disease. Also, potassium, which is rich in vegetables, prevents sodium absorption and thus lowers blood pressure. Thirdly, people choose vegetarian diets because of the environmental pollution. Meat and the environment appear to have no relationship to each other; however, the meat business actually has a great impact on the environment. According to the United Nations, 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases result from methane emissions from the livestock industry. Also, according to the Stockholm International Water Institute, it takes seven kilograms of grains and 9,000 liters of water to produce only 0.45 kilograms of beef. Finally, people do not eat meat in order to save and protect animals. According to Melanie Joy, a vegan activist, 1.2 billion animals are slaughtered globally every week. So, in one week, more farm animals are killed than the total number of people killed in wars throughout history. Also, farm animals are in poor condition due to mass and dense breeding. According to John Robbins, who writes about animal rights, 70 percent of chickens have cancer when they are caught, and 80 percent of pigs have pneumonia just before being taken to a slaughterhouse. By not eating meat, you can make yourself healthy, and save both animals and the environment!
However, vegetarian diets can cause nutritional imbalances as well. Vitamin B12, iron, calcium, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin D are examples of nutrients that are prone to deficiency in vegetarian diets. In particular, vitamin B12, which produces DNA and red blood cells, is a nutrient that can only be obtained from animal produce. Also, the ingredient phytate, which is present in vegetables, prevents the absorption of zinc into the body. As such, extreme vegetarianism can cause nutritional imbalances which can threaten a person’s health. So, you have to consider your physical status carefully before opting for a vegetarian diet.
Vegetarians can also face other difficulties as well, especially in Korea. There is still a lack of awareness about vegetarians in Korea. For example, vegetarians suffer from difficulties when it comes to eating meals outdoors. Even though the number of vegetarian restaurants has increased, it is still hard to find one. Sometimes vegetarians go to a regular restaurant and ask the cook to remove meat from the food, but such requests are ignored quite often and foods containing meat are served. Korea’s unique culture that emphasizes “group life” is also a challenge to vegetarians. Because people usually eat meat during get-togethers, if someone says he or she is a vegetarian and thus cannot join a party, some people think that the vegetarian is too picky. Teenagers who are vegetarian have problems too because vegetarian options are not provided at schools. So, vegetarians in Korea usually carry lunchboxes containing their meals, which can be impossible if one does not have the money or time to prepare their own meal. Since 2011, France has made half of the options on menus vegetarian. Portugal also enacted a law that mandates the provision of more than one vegetarian option for all foods served at public institutions. Even though the Jeonbuk Provincial Office of Education has instructed that a vegetarian-based meal is to be served once a week to support vegetarians at school, there are still numerous vegetarians in many parts of our society that are not being guaranteed their rights. In order to ensure the rights of vegetarians to eat like those in France and Portugal, we have to take an active interest in vegetarianism.
After reading this article up to this point, do you want to cut down on meat that you eat but do not know how to do it? Well, here are some tips to help you! First, do not try to stop eating meat at once. This will cause stress, and you will be disappointed when you fail. Try reducing meat consumption only 10 percent in your daily life. You can do things such as eating no meat on Mondays, or skip eating meat for dinner if you have had it for lunch. It may sound like you are doing nothing, but you are actually making a grand choice for the environment because according to those campaigning for “Meat Free Monday,” not eating meat for one day a week prevents the emission of 2,268kg of carbon dioxide and saves 134,400 liters of water per person! Second, eat alternative food that replaces animal products. You can drink soybean milk or almond milk rather than drinking milk from cows, or eat soy meat rather than pork or beef. You can also use cellophane noodles instead of wheat flour noodles when you cook. Finally, visit a vegetarian restaurant around you. In this way, you can support local vegetarian chefs as well as enjoy a tasty meal. Here are some of the restaurants offering vegetarian choices in Daejeon:
1. Loving Hut
Loving Hut is a vegan restaurant that does not use animal products or genetically modified produce. The main options are soy meat bibimbap, sesame noodle soup, and bean paste noodle soup. They also sell organic products that do not use animal products.
Address: 23 Songchonbukro, Daedeokgu, Daejeon
Matbogo is a plant-based Korean cuisine buffet. Most of the food is vegetable-based natural food like bean-made cutlet, perilla seed soup, and seasoned vegetables, but there are some meat products like pork.
Address: 392 Mannyeondong, Seogu, Daejeon
3. Indian Curry No.9
Did you know that you can eat vegetarian food near Chungnam University? At Indian Curry No. 9, they have various vegetable curry options such as mixed vegetable curry, vegetable makhani, and plain dosa.
Address: 169 Daehakdong, Yuseonggu, Daejeon
Vegetarian diets are increasingly becoming part of an individual’s everyday lifestyle rather than a mere fashion. Thus, our attitude toward vegetarians is also becoming more important. I hope our society understands vegetarianism more and accepts an individual’s ideology about one’s diet.
Kyungyoon Seo, CUB Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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