The benefits of a vegetarian diet
Nowadays there are many different diets and styles of eating. A very common diet is a vegetarian diet, and this has been around for centuries. A vegetarian diet mainly involves not eating meat, but this differs from a vegan diet as you can still consume animal products like dairy. Leading a meat free lifestyle can have many health benefits as well as ethical benefits and these are the main reasons why many people are making the change from meat to meatless. If you’re wondering about how turning vegetarian can benefit you then read on as we are going to be explaining the many ways a vegetarian diet can benefit you and if it’s something you should consider doing.
When it comes to being vegetarian you need to know about the different types. There are four main types of vegetarian and these are:
Lacto – ovo vegetarian – This is when the person doesn’t eat meat, poultry or fish. They do eat dairy and eggs.
Ovo vegetarian – The diet doesn’t allow meat, poultry, seafood and dairy but the person can eat eggs.
Lacto vegetarian – This diet excludes meat, poultry, eggs and fish but does allow dairy products.
Pescatarian – this diet doesn’t allow meat, poultry, dairy and eggs but you can eat fish.
In this article we are just going to be talking about vegetarianism as a whole and not any particular type.
Ethical and environmental benefits
One reason why people turn to a vegetarian diet are the ethical reasons. To some that beef burger they serve at your local restaurant used to be a life and having it cooked up on a plate feels like murder. This is true as animals are living things and deserve life like everything else. Also, the cattle farms that the animals are kept in are not always the best conditions and many grow to be deformed and never receiver proper exercise. Also, animals that are kept in such close proximity to each other make it easier for diseases to spread between them. In some cases, this can be torture for the animal as they are unable to move and have to live in their own faeces. Also farming cattle accounts for around 15% of greenhouse gasses which is a hefty portion.
Although being vegetarian will mean your making an effort to try and put this to an end, it is still not perfect. Cattle still has to be farmed to get milk and the conditions these cows are put in can also be quite degrading in industrial cattle farms. One way is that female cows are forced to have calves and make more cows which can then be used for beef or milk. The cows are often forced to be impregnated which is a form of rape. At the end of it all the mothers then have their babies taken away from them at childbirth never to be seen again. So, although vegetarianism is more ethical than eating meat, there is still some impact on the animals and environment.
Better for heart health
Your heart is probably one of the most important organs in your body as it pumps blood around your body which supplies nutrients and oxygen to the rest of your body. As this is the case you want to make sure that you are looking after your heart and cardiovascular system. It’s a well-known fact that saturated fat can put you at a higher risk of heart disease. Fat can also clog up the arteries and restrict blood flow to parts of your body. When on a vegetarian diet its likely you are going to be consuming less saturated fat as this is more prominent in meat and poultry. Having high amounts of bad cholesterol also causes the levels of good cholesterol to be decreased. Good cholesterol also known as HDL cholesterol which can increase your chances of heart disease.
Although having low cholesterol is great and can offer many benefits, not having small amount of cholesterol can be harmful to your health. Not having enough cholesterol in your body can put you at risk as it can increase your risk of strokes. Not getting enough cholesterol can also cause hormone imbalances which can have dramatic changes on your mood, weight, and just general wellbeing. So, when you’re participating in a vegetarian diet then you want to be making sure that you’re still getting the good cholesterol and fat you need.
Benefits of eating more vegetables
When we were young we were told to eat our five portions of fruit and veg each day to grow strong and healthy. Well, this was not a lie as eating enough fruit and vegetables is something that is good for your general health and keeps you body working as it should. When you are on a vegetarian diet your bound to be eating more vegetables and fruit as these are allowed in all types of vegetarian diets. One benefits of eating vegetables is that they are a good source of nutrients which your body needs to maintain itself. Examples of these nutrients are vitamin c and potassium. Vegetables are also a good source of fibre that can ease digestion, help constipation, and also reduce the risk of developing bowl cancer.
Including more vegetables in your diet can also have many other benefits to your health like reducing your risk or obesity and helping with weight loss. This is due to vegetables and fruit themselves not being very calorie dense so you will need to eat a great volume of them to consume a lot of calories. Also getting sufficient vegetables and fruit can also boost your immune system which means your body is more effective at fighting disease and infection.
Disadvantages of a vegetarian diet
Like pretty much everything in life a vegetarian diet is not perfect and can still possibly cause harm. One way this can be is malnutrition. Vegetarian foods are not very rich in calories so this is the first thing you should make sure you’re getting enough of. Also make sure you are getting enough protein and there are many vegetarian protein sources you can add to your diet. These include quinoa, lentils and dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. When starting to be vegetarian you want to make sure that you are still getting all the nutrients you need that are found in meat. A good source of iron is beef and red meat, as you’re not allowed to eat this as a vegetarian you need to make sure your still getting your recommended nutrients to decrease your chances of being anaemic.
There are also studies that suggest being vegetarian can increase your chances of depression and anxiety. On average vegetarians seem to suffer from depression 20% more than other individuals. This can be for many different reasons and one can include not eating meat causing biological changes to your brain. These changes can change things like mood and energy and also the way you manage stress so will make you more likely to suffer from a disorder like depression. As a vegetarian you will also find yourself reading labels and many foods that look delicious and everyone else is eating you will not be able to. This can make some feel like outsiders and increase stress which is a cause of depression.
Overall, a vegetarian diet can offer you many health benefits and is definitely worth giving a try. As well as health benefits this type of diet also can offer benefits for the environment and the welfare of animals. Many people decide that a vegetarian diet isn’t for them and never bother trying, however you never know if you like something if you don’t try it and you could be feeling a lot better and healthier by making the switch to meat free. This diet is one of the oldest and has been used since ancient times for many reasons, surely this is good enough evidence that the diet doesn’t have very serious side affects of done properly. So, if veganism seems like something that can benefit you the give it a try, having better health and living longer are all good things so you have reasoning behind going vegan.