Why eat vegetarian food?

Why eat vegetarian food? Or why would you want to eat vegetarian or even vegan more often? Questions people often ask me or Sander. Below I share all the reasons why I have been moving away from eating meat and fish since summer 2013. After the summer of 2016, I also stopped eating animal products such as dairy,honey and eggs. And so my diet is 95% vegan. Sander has been completely vegan since summer 2016. Because with every day you leave out that piece of meat or fish, you make the world a little better! That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

Ok, let’s start!


Look back in the vega era

Did you know that during pre-historic times the diet was plant-based? The diet from Hinduism and Buddhism is also vegetarian and plant-based. In fact, the very first recorded history of vegetarian food dates back to the sixth century BC. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is considered the “father of vegetarianism.

Vegetarian in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, people increasingly distanced themselves from this vegetarian and vegetable pattern. In time, it even disappeared. During the Renaissance and enlightenment, it slowly returned to people’s diets. And in 1847 the first International Vegetarian Society started in England and in 1944 the first vegan society. Well-known vegetarians of the time are: John Harvey Kellogg (yes the one from Kellogg’s Cornflakes) and Maximilian Bircher-Benner. The American Society for Nutrition states in 2014 that more and more people will eat vegetarian and plant-based diets. For improving health, animal welfare and the environment. (Leitzman, 2014).

Well-known vegetarians

Nice to know: did you know that these famous people are all vegetarian or vegan?
Bill Clinton, Brian Adams, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pamela Anderson, Jack Johnson, Moby, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Sting, Kesha, Lenny Kravitz and Mike Tyson. And many more!(Vegetarians Union, 2016)

why eat vegetarian

And how are we Dutch doing as vegetarians?

We Dutch are also becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of eating animal products such as meat, fish and dairy. For example, more and more people are setting a meatless day, and the number of vegetarians has increased significantly over the past 12 years. In research from 1992, the Netherlands had only 750,000 vegetarians, according to journalist Daphne Meijer in her article in the Groene Amsterdammer. Meanwhile, more than half (55%) of Dutch residents are flexitarians (2015, Motivaction). A flexitarian eats no meat at least 3 days a week. The survey also indicates that people want to eat more sustainably (20%), and 40% would like to eat healthier than they do now.


Meat reduction

In addition to the group of meat lovers (26.5%), who consume meat almost daily, and the group of meat avoiders (4%), there is an intermediate group of meat avoiders that includes several million people. “Meat reductionists do not take meat eating for granted and think about it more or less consciously,” according to scientific researchers De Bakker & Dagevos of Wageningen University (2010, De Bakker & Dagevos). Even Environmental Defense is active in promoting eating less animal protein, according to De Bakker & Dagevos ( 2010). Other Western countries are also seeing the trend toward more plant-based eating and less meat and fish. In the United States in 2015, there are now 16 million vegans that is 5% of the total population. In 2009, it was only 1%, according to Nadine Wetters, blogger for The Raw Food World. Elizabeth Crawford (2015) even claims Veganism is becoming mainstream.

Is vegetarian food healthier?

Why are people eating more plant-based/vegan and vegetarian these days? One reason is health. Due to polluted seas, animals on top of each other that need antibiotics to stay “healthy,” this also gets into our food. Girls suddenly getting their periods at age 9 when 20 years ago it was at age 14 (2011, Blommendaal) and people are getting mass cancer and diabetes. The influence of (bad) food, including too much animal protein containing hormones according to Wakker dier, is becoming increasingly clear.


Vegetarian food positive for heart failure, cancer and diabetes t.2

As early as 1999, Haddad et al (1999) show in the scientific article ”
Vegetarian food guide pyramid: a conceptual framework
” show that vegetarian food has a positive influence on reducing risk of: heart failure, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Also, people who avoid meat and fish from their diets generally live healthier lives. If you also eliminate dairy and other animal products such as eggs, figures show that you are less likely to be sick and even more likely to reduce the risk of disease. For example, plant-based eating or vegan provides a 15% decrease on cancer and with vegetarian eating 8% say scientists in journal of Food Science & Nutrition (2016, Dinu et al.).
No wonder that many people want to eat increasingly conscious and healthier foods. Research from 2015 by Wageningen University in collaboration with the Variation in the Kitchen Foundation, GroentenFuit Huis and Koninklijk Horeca Nederland confirms these trends and facts (2015, Wageningen UR et al). Although not all studies are uniform, it is clear that eating meat and fish frequently (with all the plastic in the sea that the fish eat in turn and therefore you too) is not healthy.

Sustainability & Environment


“The average water footprint per calorie for beef is twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots.”
UNESCO -IHE Institute for Water Education


In addition to health, consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental hazards of eating animal products every day. The demand for meat and fish, for example, makes the livestock sector large. Many scientists agree: the greenhouse gases emitted by animal agriculture to produce meat contribute 14 to 18% of total emissions. That’s almost as much as all transportation in total. Feeding all these animals to make sure they end up on your plate as a piece of meat costs the earth a lot (Warmerdam, 2014). For example, did you know that to produce 1 hambuger, water use is equivalent to 2 months of showering?



Even more information on why vegetarian food i.c.m. environment and sustainability:

  • Water. It takes 15,000 liters per kilogram of beef to produce it (University of Twente, 2011)
    “For a kilo of beef, for example, that’s 15,000 liters. Pork costs 6,000 liters per kilo and chicken 4,300 liters. A kilo of legumes requires 4,000 liters of water. A kilo of soybeans consumes “only” 2,100 liters. Per gram of protein, meat has a 1.5 to 6 times larger water footprint than legumes.” (Mekonnen & Hoekstra, 2010)
  • Soy feed and other feed for animals. To grow and live, the cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and fish need to eat. Large tracts of rainforest are cut down to grow this feed. Or other forests. Trees are needed for converting CO2 to oxygen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.From the feed used for livestock production, a lot of people could live a lot better and healthier lives.
  • Cows and pigs emit methane. This gas also causes greenhouse effect. When there are lots of cows for meat production, that means more emissions. The only way to reduce the 18 to 14% of the total greenhouse effect emissions is to eat less (to none) meat, fish and other animal products. But this is not fun to hear. People like their piece of meat.

Fortunately, the woolly image of vegetarian food is far behind us. For example, health insurer Agis has a Vegapolis for vegetarians and vegans. And The Vegetarian Butcher is opening its doors in The Hague. Or how about the article: Vegan is Hip in the AD?

why eat vegetarian

Why eat vegetarian food ? Because of animal welfare

I could write down all kinds of reasons here why it is better not to eat animals because of their welfare. Therefore, I like the way Hinduism describes it very much. “The Hindu always acts non-violently. That means not only not behaving aggressively but also not killing other animals. If you buy meat from the butcher, you have incited someone else to kill animals and that is incitement to violence. Eating animal-free is therefore an act that is imbued with peacefulness and respect for everything living in our cosmos.”


Paradox animal-friendly


Animal-friendly meat is like woman-friendly rape



Eating more or completely vegetarian or vegan is better for animals. All the animals that end up in a plastic container in the refrigerated section of the supermarket have not had a good life. The organic industry sees an animal as a product. Animals live in deplorable conditions that cause them stress and strange behavior. Unfortunately, organic meat is not much better (Vegetarian Union, 2016). And what about “animal-friendly meat”?Animal-friendly meat is like woman-friendly rape, according to Sander. Who came up with that? Being killed is not animal-friendly. Never. Solution is easy: don’t eat meat more often.

Fortunately, you can live a fantastic life as a flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan! We would like to lend you a hand with inspiring vegetarian recipes and travel stories. My answer to why eat vegetarian? With every day you don’t eat meat or eat meat, you make the world a little better. Surely that is a fine and beautiful thought!




P.S. And the future? You can do that one just fine with meat though, but plant-based! Scientists have already come a long way. Just watch this video.





Dagevos, Hans , Jantine Voordouw, Loan Hoeven, Van, Cor Weele, Van Der, and Erik Bakker, De. “Meat especially(snog) obvious Consumers about meat eating and meat reduction .” Wageningen University. Wageningen University LEI, June 2012. Web. Aug. 21. 2016. <http://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/a/e/c/f5dd86f4-450a-4d67-a3ae-6e264820c1cb_2012-029.pdf>.


Haddad, Ella H , Joan Sabaté, and Crystal G. Whitten. “Vegetarian food guide pyramid: a conceptual framework1,2.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Sept. 1999. Web. Aug. 21. 2016. <http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/3/615s.long>.


Leitzmann, Claus . “Vegetarian nutrition: past, present, future1,2,3.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. © 2014 American Society for Nutrition, June 4, 2014. Web. Aug. 21. 2016. <http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/100/Supplement_1/496S.abstract/>.


Mekonnen, M. M., and A. Y. Hoekstra. “The green, blue and grey water footprint of farm animals and animal products.” WaterFootprint. Unesco-IHE, Dec. 2010. Web. Aug. 21. 2016.<http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1.pdf >


Meelker, Lieselot . “Meat-rich diet: assault on freshwater resources.” Univerisity of Twente. N.p., Jan. 26. 2011. Web. Aug. & Sept. 2016. <https://www.utwente.nl/nieuws/!/2011/1/176997/meat-rich-diet-affects-freshwater-stock/ >


Moen, Liza. “What is the impact of eating less meat?” Nudge. N.p., May 2015. Web. Sept. 2016. <https://www.nudge.nl/blog/2015/04/15/wat-de-impact-van-minder-vlees-eten/>.