A well-planned vegetarian diet is not just suitable, but also beneficial for everyone including athletes. Just ask Murugiah Rameshon, who set a marathon record at the South East Asian (SEA) Games in 1995, or Desmond Koh, who has thrice represented Singapore in the Olympics. Internationally, athletes who embrace a plant-based diet include tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams, and nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis.

But going veg is not just for sportsmen. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other forms of degenerative disease are so common today that most of us personally know a family member or friend who has suffered from one these diseases. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 30% of all deaths in 2011. Heart disease accounts for 16%. What is truly sad, however, is that we have come to see these ailments as a necessary evil of modern life, enduring the grief and billions of taxpayer dollars they cost – without realising how easily we can prevent them.

Degenerative disease is closely linked to lifestyle choices such as exercise and dietary habits. The World Health Organisation found that people on a well-planned vegetarian diet are significantly less likely to develop cancer compared to meat eaters. The human body is not adapted to the consumption of meat and other animal products, due to the nature of animal protein, high amounts of saturated fat, and carcinogenic compounds formed during cooking. In contrast, a plant-based diet greatly increases the body's ability to suppress cancerous cell growth. Plant-based diets are also extremely effective in countering obesity and diabetes.

It is common to think that these diseases will not happen to us, especially while we are young. After all, they are the result of many years of poor lifestyle choices. Sadly, by the time we are able to detect cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases, it may already be too late.