The old saying is true, ” you are what you eat”. Studies show that most vegetarians are slimmer than meat eaters. Vegetarians also have a lower risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and incidence of cancer. Wow! That’s amazing, let’s dive in and investigate the benefits of not eating meat.
A vegetarian diet may reduce your risk of certain kinds of cancer by 22 percent, according to a new analysis from the Adventist Health Study-2.
In regards to the claim that vegetarians do not get enough protein, this is only a myth. There are plenty of plant-based foods that are high in protein, including, nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, tofu, even fruits, and vegetables. See also, The 26 Best Vegetarian Sources of Protein. Most vegetarians have no issue getting enough protein. However, sometimes they have a problem getting enough B12, so, vegetarians are often encouraged to take a vitamin B12 supplement. Read this article from the Medical Journal of Australia for more information.
Shatter the Myth; You Don’t Have to Eat Meat to Get Enough Protein
The key to a healthy vegetarian diet — like any diet — is to include a variety of foods. No single food can provide all the nutrients your body needs.
Regarding the Benefits of Not Eating Meat
To my surprise, while researching this post I found some studies that claim to show that meat eaters have a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, and other diseases. The studies I reference in this post show the exact opposite, in addition, they show that vegetarians live significantly longer than non-vegetarians. Two studies of people who consumed tiny amounts meat showed an average lifespan increase of 3.6 years. A massive study of Seventh Day Adventists who ate little or no meat showed longevity increases of 7.28 years in men and 4.42 years in women
The reasons for these discrepancies are relatively straightforward:
1) Many people who choose a vegetarian diet are more health-conscious in general and thus, make other healthy lifestyle choices (e.g., not smoking, not drinking heavily).
2) Many people who become vegetarian choose so because of existing, ongoing health problems that they want to improve (e.g., diabetes, allergies, anxiety).
Thus, vegetarians may seem healthier in general because of other healthy lifestyle habits, or on the flip side; they might have disorders and problems that meat eaters do not have because they developed these conditions and then became vegetarian to try to reduce these problems.
Studies that do not control for these factors may present incorrect information.
In truth, a vegetarian is not necessarily healthier than a meat eater is. It all comes down to individual choices. A vegetarian who consumes a lot of sodium, sugars, refined grains and saturated fats is not healthier than a meat eater who consumes a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Avoiding meat is only one part of the picture. A healthy vegetarian diet should be chock-full of foods with known benefits.
Choosing A Lifestyle
There are many reasons that people choose to eat a meatless diet, some are ethical in nature, others are for religious reasons, some people simply cannot tolerate eating anything that once lived and breathed, and others just feel that it is a healthy choice. Conversely, many love steaks and chicken, therefore, choosing this type of lifestyle can prove difficult unless there is compelling motivation to quit eating meat. Keep in mind that a diet that includes some meat can still be healthy.
The Healthiest Foods To Incorporate Into Your Diet
A reason that studies show a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, and other problems in meat eaters is due to saturated and trans fat. Meats, especially red meats, are high in saturated fat.
For the healthiest diet possible, focus on a delicious menu that’s full of the following items:
- Whole Grains
- Plant-based Oils
Regardless of being a vegetarian or meat eater, the foods that you consume on a regular basis dictate how healthy you will be.
Focus on the seven foods above to reduce your risk of heart attack, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and other diseases. Monitor the amount of saturated fats that you consume, and if you are a meat eater, consider swapping your steak for grilled chicken or fish on a frequent basis.
There’s nothing wrong with eating meat if you’re doing so in moderation
With the right diet and lifestyle choices, meat eaters can get many of the benefits of a vegetarian diet; moderation is the key!