Are meat-eaters healthier than vegetarians?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am

Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...

Jeffrey Wong, 19, Diocesan Boys' School

Vegetarianism owes its origins to India when it was first considered a religious practice.

Even Plato was an advocate of the meatless diet. The idea of not eating meat became more prevalent in the 20th century.

Generally speaking, vegetarians do not consume meat and fish. There are two types of vegetarians: ovo-lacto vegetarians and vegans.

The former consumes diary products, while the latter doesn't.

The question of whether vegetarians obtain sufficient nutrients has been a subject of debate.

I feel meat-eaters are no healthier than vegetarians.

Scientific research done by the American Dietetic Association has argued that a well-planned vegetarian diet provides sufficient nutrients. Usually, large amounts of cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables are included in a vegetarian diet.

These meals have essential nutrients like carbohydrates, dietary fibre and are rich in vitamin C.

It has been discovered that vegetarians and meat-eaters are similar in height. Besides, vegetarians are, in fact, healthier than meat-eaters in many areas. According to research, vegetarians suffer hypertension on fewer occasions. This can be attributed to their lower blood pressure.

As long as we are on a healthy diet, both vegetarians and meat-eaters can be healthy.

Claudia Yip, 17, Shun Lee Catholic Secondary School

It is unfair to believe that meat-eaters are less healthy than vegetarians because they eat a lot of fatty food, especially saturated fat.

Meat-eaters also consume white meat and lean meat.

In fact, we all know the food pyramid - we need a balanced diet to intake a large variety of nutrition from all kind of food, meat or vegetables to maintain our health.

One stays healthy by eating all sorts of food instead of only meat or vegetables.

Nevertheless, there are certain kinds of nutrients that a diet with no meat cannot provide.

For example, vegetables are a weaker source of iron.

As a result, iron deficiency is common among young women and children who are

vegetarians.

Also, since the vegetarian diet excludes fish, there are no fatty acids present.

There is no docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in plants, too.

DHA is crucial to your brain. It avoids cholesterol clogging the your blood veins.

The reason why some teenagers turn to vegetarianism is sceptical. This diet may appear to them as a 'healthy' way to lose weight. But many young girls who go vegetarian have low blood pressure.

My advice is don't exclude any type of nourishing food.