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Health & Exercise Forum

Vegetarianism & One Doctor’s Attempt at Being a Healthy Role-Model: Part 2 of 3

Dec 9, 2013

Vegetarianism & One Doctor's Attempt at Being a Healthy Role Model: Part 2 of 3

by Luana J Hossain, MS3 TCMC, and Paul J Mackarey, PT, DHSc, OCS

This column is written in celebration of Dr. Jennifer Sidari’s life. Dr. Sidari, a native of Pittston, was a member of the first class to graduate from The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) and truly represented everything that is good about TCMC and NEPA. Dr. Sidari passed away unexpectedly in May of 2013. She was bright, strong, genuine, energetic and compassionate. She was a breath of fresh air and lit up any room she entered; her positive spirit was contagious. Her classmate, Luana Hossain and I spent many hours with her, collaborating on ideas, projects, drafts, and columns for the Healthcare Journalism Club at TCMC. Her presence is deeply missed by our group and everyone who knew her.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “vegetarian” was derived from the word vegetable. The Latin word “vegetus” means lively or vigorous. How very appropriate for Dr. Jen Sidari!

History of Vegetarianism

Anthropologists agree that before farming and domesticated animals, our ancestors relied on hunting wild game and gathering what they could find for food. Since the game migrated with the seasons, humans followed. Because hunting was a time and energy consuming activity, and because early humans did not have permanent homes where they could grow crops, the majority of their diet was plant-based. Over the centuries, humans began to domesticate animals, like dogs, which could help with hunting. They learned to cultivate seeds in small areas for a few months at a time, meaning they could move less frequently; this lifestyle is termed “complex-hunter gatherer”. Eventually, humans stopped following game, cultivated all the plants they required, and raised livestock for meat so that there would be a relatively constant supply. This shift in food production changed the human diet to one of larger portions of meat and animal products.

Across the world, cultures have been vegetarian or vegan for centuries. The more recent revival occurred on our part of the globe in the early 1800’s with the American Vegetarian Society, founded in 1850. Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles became celebrated in the 1960s counterculture movement and then again in the 1970s, markedly through Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation. In recent times, the environmental impact of meat production has come into the public eye as well as health concerns. “Red meat” like beef and pork has been shown in many studies to increase the risk of heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. Thus, vegetarian diets and healthy lifestyles have become a mainstream focus

Vegetarianism Decoded

Lacto= dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream etc.)

Ovo= eggs

Legumes = beans, peanuts, soy, lentils, chickpeas etc.



Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy

Meat, fish and seafood, poultry


Fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, eggs

Meat, fish and seafood, poultry, dairy


Fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, dairy

Meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs

Pescatarian/ Pesco-vegetarian

Fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, fish and seafood

Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy


Fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, poultry (chicken, turkey), eggs, dairy

Meat, fish and seafood


Fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds

Meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy

Vegans also do not use any products from animals like honey, leather, wool, silk and more

Macrobiotic diet

Grains, vegetables, legumes primarily

Some fruit, nuts, seeds

Meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy

Raw diet

Any raw fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, sometimes eggs and dairy

Meat, fish and seafood, poultry


Fruit, nuts, seeds

Any produce product that results in harm to the plant, grain, meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy


Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

According to the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services, vegetarians consume less overall calories, fewer calories from fat (especially saturated fat), more fiber, potassium, vitamin C and other vitamins than non-vegetarians. Studies found that adults adopting a vegetarian-style eating pattern have overall improvement in health outcomes. Additionally, studies found fewer incidences of obesity, lower blood pressure, less cardiovascular disease and lower total mortality.

Moreover, there are a number of diseases transmitted by the consumption of meat that vegetarians avoid. Some studies found E. Coli, a deadly bacteria in more than 35.% of chicken and 19.% of beef while salmonella has been found in 33.% to 50.% of all chicken and bovine leukemia virus (BLV) has been discovered in 20.% of all cows in the US according to the US Department of Labor.

Economic and Ethic Support of Vegetarianism

While health remains the primary motive for vegetarianism, many practice this lifestyle for economic and ethical reasons. Many religions and cultures believe that eating the flesh of non-human animals is taboo. Others feel that the inhumane methods of raising and slaughtering animals for food are unethical. Furthermore, it is widely known that the mass production of meat and animal products cannot be sustained according to the 2006 United Nations initiative. These methods contribute to pollution of the air and water, destruction of land, and global warming. A vegetarian diet, for example, uses 1/5 the amount of water that is needed to produce 1 pound of beef. Agriculture produces 18% of CO2 global greenhouse gases. The amount of land for grazing and water necessary to sustain livestock is not proportional to the number of mouths fed. Livestock herds stress grasslands and stifle agricultural opportunities. With the decline in available land and water per capita, lowering meat consumption would allow a greater opportunity to grow more efficient foods, such as grains, to feed the hungry around the globe.

Next week: “The Five Common Myths About Vegetarianism.”

Guest Columnist, Luana Hossain, 3rd Year Medical Student, TCMC:

Embarking on her third year as a medical student at The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) on Pine Street in Scranton, Luana aims to practice obstetrics and gynecology in an urban underserved region. She is the youngest of three girls and, though born in Switzerland, she has lived on both coasts of the US. Luana received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Anthropology from the University of Virginia, where she was also the section editor of the university paper’s Health and Science section. She is currently the president of TCMC’s Healthcare in Journalism Club and one of four class officers. When she needs a break from studying, Luana loves to do anything outdoors, travel, and cook for her friends. She grew up speaking German and English, and picked up Spanish and some French along the way as well.

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.

Read “Health & Exercise Forum” – Next Monday read Part 3 of 3 on Vegetarianism-one doctor's attempt at...  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: