Why We Should Put More Importance On Vegetables

The two vegetables I am least likely to eat are beets, which are under the classification “other,” and pumpkin which is classified as “red/orange.” Out of all the vegetables I singled out, I believe these two have the strongest and most recognizable flavors. Socially, I think I was definitely preconditioned to dislike these two vegetables. Beets have always been disliked by my family, even going back to my grandparents. Going into trying a new food with the expectation that you won’t like it will definitely negatively affect your experience. Aside from the distinct flavor and coloring, I think this is the main reason I grew up to dislike beets. My dislike of pumpkins can also be traced back to a social cause. I’ve always reacted negatively to artificial pumpkin flavors commonly used in things like lattes, candies, and cookies. Unfortunately, my dislike of this artificial flavor has distanced me from the raw vegetable itself.

Participating in group discussions has really made me rethink my biases against these vegetables. I’ve realized that my dislike of them is primarily based on my upbringing and society rather than on actual experience with them. I would be much more likely to try beets and pumpkin now, especially given the health benefits of both. Beets are high in nutrients but low in calories, high in dietary fiber, and they have been shown to lower blood pressure, lessen chronic inflammation, support cognitive function, and even prevent cancer. Pumpkin provides similar nutritional advantages. They provide antioxidants which can prevent eye degeneration, potassium which positively affects blood pressure, they improve immunity, and are an excellent source of fiber.

I believe our society should put more importance on vegetables in our every-day diets. We currently glorify meat and stress its importance. Many consider a meal without meat to be lacking a crucial component. However, it was only a few decades ago that meat was considered a luxury to be enjoyed on occasion. The way our society produces meat is highly inefficient. 83% of available farmland in America is used for livestock. These livestock destined for meat production require a lot of resources and consume a huge amount of nutrients. However, a fraction of the nutrients we feed to livestock make it to the meat we eat. For example, to produce one kilogram of steak, a cow must eat twenty-five kilograms of grains and drink fifteen thousand liters of water. The production process of meat is also incredibly harmful to the environment, creating a lot of harmful greenhouse gasses. Despite all the time and resources spent to produce it, meat only makes up 18% of the calories we eat.

I would encourage my community to focus more on vegetables and less on meat. Even eating vegetarian for one day a week would be economically and environmentally beneficial to any household. I think the people in my community would be surprised at how easy changes like these would be to make. I myself am trying to implement these changes in my own life and have found that trying new vegetarian options has been hugely rewarding.

11 February 2020
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