Read These 5 Pros and Cons Before Trying Vegetarianism
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the vegetarian diet recently. Maybe you’re considering making the switch yourself, or you know someone who has. Either way, it can’t hurt to be informed on the subject. Here are five fast facts on the vegetarian diet that will help you understand a bit more about what it entails.
What is a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet is one that does not include meat or fish. Some vegetarians also do not eat poultry or eggs. This diet can be either high in carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, or it can be low in carbohydrates, such as vegetables and fruits. People try this diet for a variety of reasons ranging from health reasons to ethical purposes. There are plenty of benefits to going vegetarian but there are downsides to it as well which are all important to learn prior to trying a vegetarian diet.
Before undertaking any major changes in your diet, be sure to consult with health professionals first. Big changes can impact your health in significant way, which is why it is important to seek professional help to ensure your next step is safe and effective.
That said, here are some of the top benefits, disadvantages of being vegetarian plus some tips on how to make the most of your diet.
What Are The Types of Vegetarian Diets?
Lacto-Ovo: Vegetarians who consume dairy and eggs
Lacto: Vegetarians that consume dairy but not eggs
Ovo: Vegetarians that consume eggs but not dairy
Partial Vegetarians: This includes pescatarians (consumes fish) and pollotarians( avoid fish and meat but consumes poultry)
What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet has many health benefits. It can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. It can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
1. Good for Heart Health
According to a study, vegetarians are up to 1/3rd less likely to suffer from heart disease largely due to their food choices. Among the best choices for vegetarians include:
High-fiber whole grains
Fruits and Vegetables
Low GI food
Consumption of soluble fiber helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Doing this helps reduce cholesterol and overall heart attack risk.
2. Reduced Cancer Risk
The benefit might not be as impactful but vegetarians have a slight advantage when it comes to lowering cancer risk. A study has found that vegetarian diets are great for lowering the cancer risk of patients in general. Certain animal-free diets reduce various types of cancer. It is shown that vegan diets reduce risk compared to other diets and offers most protection for women against female-specific cancers. GI tract cancers.
Another study found nonsiginificant decrease in risk for colorectal cancer in those who follow vegetarian diets.
3. Prevents Type 2 Diabetes and Lowers Blood Pressure
A healthy vegetarian diet helps prevent and treat type 2 diabetes and its other complications. This harkens back to selecting low glycemic foods that allow blood sugar levels to remain steady. Compared to non vegetarians, vegetarianism has helped slash the risk in half.
A vegetarian diet can also help cut the risk of high blood pressure through lowering the blood pressure. Researches have observed that people who don’t consume meat may have lower blood pressure readings. Plant based foods are lower in fat, sodium, and cholesterol which play a role on your blood pressure. Potassium is highly concentrated in plant foods which help lower blood pressure as well.
4. Decreased Asthma Symptoms
A study conducted in Sweden presents the data that vegetarian or vegan diets have properties that may decrease asthma symptoms. Out of the 24 participants, 22 of those who went vegan for a year saw improvements in their asthma case. Certain animal foods produce allergies which is why eliminating these can reduce responses.
5. Better weight control
Vegetarian diets are naturally lower in cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fat. Plant-based food are also lower in calories which makes consumption of it in large volumes still lower in caloric content compared to animal protein. Take note, however, that being vegetarian doesn’t automatically result to weight loss. Weight loss must still come largely from lifestyle habits.
What are the drawbacks of a vegetarian diet?
The main drawback of a vegetarian diet is that it can be difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs. This is especially true if you do not eat enough variety of foods. Vegetarians need to make sure they get enough protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.
As with any diet, there are both risks and benefits to a vegetarian diet.
The main risks associated with a vegetarian diet are:
1. Nutrient Deficiencies
The main concern for vegetarian diets are the nutrient deficiencies. There are some nutrients that can only come from animal sources. Vegetarians must take supplementation in order to up their intake of these nutrients. These include:
VITAMIN B12- Found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and milk.
VITAMIN D- Found in eggs and fish along with plant milks and mushrooms.
CALCIUM- Dairy products contain high amounts of calcium but it is also available in tofu, broccoli, beans, and almonds.
IRON- Iron can be obtained through eggs, cereal, soy, beans, and spinach.
2. Mental Health Impact
Vegetarian and vegan diets are said to interfere with one’s mood. While studies on this are mixed, others found that meatless can improve their mental health while another showed the opposite. A study conducted involving 400 mothers with 80 having postpartum depression showed that being vegetarian increased their depression symptoms.
Another study showed the opposite with vegans and vegetarians having lower anxiety and stress levels compared to those who consumed meat.
3. Lower Creatine Levels
Creatine is an amino acid used by muscles comprised of other amino acids namely glycine, methionine, and arginine. Creatine is found in meat and fish and since vegetarians don’t consume it, they might have lower creatine levels. Vegetarians and vegans have very low creatine pool levels due to not consuming creatine-rich food.
A study conducted involving 40 participants found creatine levels in women declined when they started trying a vegetarian diet during 3 months. They were provided with supplementation in order to increase their levels. While it isn’t an essential amino acid, it has muscle strength benefits which are useful if you are an athlete especially.
4. A Bit of A Hassle
Yes, a vegetarian diet can be a bit of a hassle to live with in day to day life. Firstly, not many restaurants offer vegetarian options and couple that with the amount of creativity needed to come up with a variety of vegetarian dishes. Of course, this in itself isn’t exactly a con. It can be turned into a challenge that can help you enhance your creativity.
If you’ve been snooping around on social media or the grocery aisles, you’d know that there has been a boom in vegetarian and vegan options. Various plant-based versions of favorites from tocino to longganisa and even bulgogi exist! Add to that the expansion of vegetarian restaurants in the country.
5. May Be Unhealthy
It is a common myth that vegetarian=healthy. And why not? After all it was mentioned above that it can assist in weight loss since it’s lower in cholesterol and vegetables have a much lower caloric content compared to meat. However it isn’t always the case. Vegetarian diets, especially the trendy plant based foods, are processed and high in sodium, especially since they are flavored to replicate the taste of meat.
When trying to transition to vegetarianism, remember to take your health into consideration especially if this is the reason you do it for in the first place. Neglecting sodium content and caloric consumption even on a vegetarian diet can still be disastrous for your health.
What are some tips for following a vegetarian diet?
If you're thinking of going vegetarian, congrats! A plant-based diet has amazing potential health benefits, including reducing your risk for heart disease, obesity, cancer, and more. But making the switch can be tough, especially if you're used to eating a lot of meat and animal products. Here are five tips to help make the transition easier:
Start slow: If you're not ready to give up meat entirely, start by cutting back on portion sizes or choosing meatless meals a few days a week such as Meat-Free Mondays.
Get familiar with plant-based proteins: Quinoa, tofu, lentils, beans, and nuts are all great sources of protein for vegetarians. Experiment with different recipes featuring these ingredients to find some that you love.
Incorporate more veggies into your diet: One of the best things about vegetarianism is that it encourages you to eat more vegetables! Make sure to load up your plate with plenty of colorful produce at every meal.
Find substitutes for your favorite foods: Just because you're eliminating meat doesn't mean you have to give up all your favorite foods. There are tons of delicious vegetarian versions of classic dishes like lasagna, chili, and
If you're considering making the switch to a vegetarian diet, congratulations! You're on your way to eating healthier a