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Health & Exercise Forum

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

Dec 16, 2013

Vegetarianism & One Doctor’s Attempt At Being a Healthy Role-Model: Part 3 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!

Top 10 Myths About Vegetarianism

  1. The only foods a vegetarian eats are fruits and vegetables: Strict vegetarians, such as vegans, eat only fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. However, as discussed in Part II of this series on vegetarianism, there are many varieties of vegetarians such as pesco-vegetarians, who also eat fish and seafood.

  1. Vegetarianism is a “new fad” that began in the 1970’s “hippie” era: The complex-hunter gatherer developed once man became more domesticated and practiced less time-consuming activities such as hunting and relocating. Man had more permanent shelter and developed agricultural skills. In ancient Greece and Rome, scholars, preachers, and philosophers promoted the use of vegetarianism for ethical, moral and health reasons. Many religions follow some degree of vegetarianism as well. Today, this lifestyle is growing in popularity for the same reasons.

  1. Vegetarians are not as healthy as those who consume meat because they don’t get enough protein and other nutrients: On the contrary, vegetarians are very healthy, as long as they consume enough varieties of fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens like kale. The American Dietetic Association states that a vegetarian can meet all of the protein requirements and essential amino acids and vitamins, fats and minerals to be very healthy. In fact, according to peer-reviewed scientific studies in 2012, vegetarians are healthier and live longer (7.2 years longer for men and 4.4 years longer for women) than their carnivorous counterparts. They have a lower body mass index with fewer incidences of kidney stones, type II diabetes, coronary artery disease, and cancer.

  1. Providing food for vegetarians in large numbers will stress the environment: Actually, calorie to calorie, a vegetarian diet uses 1/5 the amount of water that is needed to produce 1 pound of beef. Additionally, in states where livestock graze, 85% of the land is unusable for agriculture and 80% of the streams are damaged. Lastly, raising animals for food creates 18% of global greenhouse gases.

  1. Man was anatomically designed to eat meat …not vegetables: For the same reason man no longer walks on all four limbs, man has evolved and adapted for survival and advancement. Humans do not have large mouths, pointed teeth, or short intestines like those found in true carnivores. Instead, our short, flat teeth assist in chewing and long intestines promote full digestion of vegetables.

  1. Children of vegetarians are not fully developed and don’t get adequate protein: Not true.  As noted above, a vegetarian diet, with adequate nutritional variety, provides a growing body with all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs.

  1. Vegetarians develop an offensive body odor: Recent studies found that males who did NOT eat red meat secreted a body odor with greater sex appeal than those who ate meat. . But, just in case, remember to continue showering.

  1. There are no vegetarian role models: Paul McCartney, Brad Pitt, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, and Leonardo da Vinci are pretty good role models for anyone!

  1. Vegetarian food tastes bad: Food preferences are as varied as the billions of people on the planet! All foods, with a modicum of effort, can be prepared appetizingly. Conversely, any food can be prepared badly. Think back to mystery meat day in grade school – one example of unappetizing meat. Because there is such a wide range of flavors in the world of vegetables, fruit, nuts and spices, many different and delicious meals can be prepared without the use of meat.

  1. Being a vegetarian is too difficult: Making any big lifestyle change required perseverance and dedication initially. However, our culture has grown to accept special diets such as vegetarian, lactose free, gluten free and more. This means that grocery stores and restaurants frequently have vegetarian options, and planning vegetarian meals doesn’t take any more time than planning a meaty meal. Browse your local grocery store or online and find out what vegetarian options are available to you.

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” – Every Monday   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: