You've been told by everyone your whole life to eat your vegetables, but why are vegetables good for you? What really makes them so special, and why are more people learning about different varieties and cooking techniques in order to emphasize them over animal products and sugar?
Why Are Vegetables Good for You?
Early humans ate more plant products than meat because that's what was readily available. With the development of agriculture came the rise of civilizations, but agriculture was more dominant than husbandry for a long time. Vegetables were a necessity, while their nutritious value was unknown they were accepted as a delicious, cheap and reliable means of keeping the body fed.
Gradually, more was learned about the value of vegetables. First, it was observed that people whose diets skewed more towards vegetarianism seemed healthier overall. Famous vegetarians like George Bernard Shaw claimed to have more cognitive power by eschewing animal products. As science progressed, it was clear that a body had more strength and energy and avoided more illnesses when vegetables were emphasized. This was only true, however, when they weren't overcooked.
Now we know vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which are crucial for a healthy diet. We are even learning that the more vegetables you eat, the more diseases you ward off. While the jury is out on whether vegetarians are smarter than meat-eaters, there seems little question that a vegetarian diet does improve cognitive function. When you eat a lot of vegetables, you get a variety of health benefits and essentially no drawbacks.
The Power of Vegetables
This is all well and good, but why are vegetables good for youm if your family has a history of dangerous diseases, including cancer? After all, many recent studies have debunked the ability of vitamins to ward off cancer. Bear in mind that this is mostly concerning vitamin supplements, not the vitamins at their natural source. While there is still more to be learned, it seems vegetables release chemicals that help keep cancer cells from taking root.
Even if this proves wholly false, it is still clear that one of the major advantages of vegetarianism is that, provided you also exercise regularly and avoid a lot of sugar, you will have lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. Vegetarians are thinner as a group, and so they also have fewer instances of heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.
Vegetables and Your Looks
A diet high in vegetables will not only keep you feeling well, it will keep you looking well. Supplements can never top the power of vitamins at their natural source. When you emphasize deep colored vegetables - reds, oranges, yellows and dark green - you are treating yourself to a full range of vitamins, especially A, B, C and K, as well as a host of minerals. All these work to keep your circulation at peak performance and your cells overturning at a healthy rate, resulting in clear skin, bright eyes, shiny hair and strong teeth.
Your Wallet and the Planet
When you go to a farmer's market to buy produce, you may well ask why are vegetables good for you financially? Measure for measure, they are still less expensive than meat. Try eating a vegetarian meal every day for a week and take a look at your food expenditure at the end of the week and you'll see. When you buy fresh, organic vegetables, you are getting more nutritional value, because they have not been treated or stored for any length of time. More nutritional value also means more economic value, because you get more from what you eat. Hands down, vegetarianism is great for the environment. You can feed more people more healthfully with plant-based foods than anything from animals, and you can take that to the bank!