Vegetarian and vegan diets have grown in popularity over the years, sometimes for purely health reasons and in other cases for ideological motives – some prefer a vegetarian diet because they wish to keep animals from harm. But what are the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, and what are the disadvantages?
Advantages Of A Vegetarian Diet
A vegetarian or vegan diet has several advantages over one that includes meat. This are important factors to consider.
It is easier to control your weight on a vegetarian diet because the bulk of vegetarian foods are both filling and low in calories.
Better General Health
A vegetarian diet is linked with lower blood pressure and lower incidents of heart disease. Your diet will not include fatty meats which are high in calories. A study from Britain in 2013 suggested a vegetarian diet cuts the risk of death by heart disease by 32 percent. Lower cholesterol is also a factor in a vegetarian or plant-based diet.
Numerous studies have suggested consuming large quantities of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of disease such as cancer. Cutting red meat may reduce the risk of colon cancer in particular.
Disadvantages Of Going Vegetarian
Nothing comes without a price, so here are some of the cons of adopting a vegetarian diet.
It Can Be Hard To Get Enough Protein
Protein can be problematic, as our largest sources of protein are typically in meats. You will need to seek out alternatives and ensure that your diet includes enough. Quinoa contains considerably larger amounts of protein – 8 grams per cup or more – than many plant-based foods. Green peas are also a good source of protein. Nuts contain protein but are also high in calories.
Women need roughly 46 grams of protein per day, while men need 56. So plan your diet to ensure you get sufficient amounts. Protein helps repair your body’s tissues, so don’t skimp on it.
A lack of iron can be in issue with vegetarian diets because a substantial source of iron comes from meat. One way to boost your iron intake when you switch to a vegetarian diet is to use cast iron skillets and cooking pots. Your food will absorb iron from the pots themselves.
Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Omega 3s
The simplest and easiest sources for B12, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids are animal products. So plan on using supplements and/or adding products which have been fortified with calcium.
Making The Switch
Switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be daunting, and there are issues such as those above that you must consider as you make the change. As always, consult your doctor or a qualified dietitian or nutritionist to work out a diet that is right for you.
While there are issues to take into account such as protein and vitamins, choosing to convert to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be done safely and in ways that ensure you maintain good health. You may find that a gradual switch to a vegetarian diet is easier on your system than quitting meats and animal products “cold turkey”. Let your body get used to the change. You may find it is much happier that way.