Approximately five percent of the people in the United States describe themselves as vegetarians. The reasons for following a vegetarian diet are as varied as the people who do it. Some forgo meat in their diet for religious reasons; others because they are animal rights advocates. Still, others adopt a vegetarian diet for environmental reasons. However, while these ideals are honorable, they aren't the only reasons for eliminating meat products from your diet. There are also a number of health reasons for doing so.
Health benefits of a vegetarian diet
A vegetarian diet avoids all meat, chicken and seafood products, but still includes diary products. A vegetarian diet shouldn't be confused with a vegan diet, which avoids any animal food product and includes only plant-based foods. There are a number of healthy reasons to adopt a vegetarian diet.
1. Reducing your risk of health disease. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), a vegetarian diet is kinder on your heart. Eating animal products, especially red meat, contributes to higher cholesterol and makes the heart work harder to push blood through narrowing arteries.
2. Reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome. According to a study cited by "Medical News Today", a vegetarian diet may be beneficial in reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, a health condition that can lead to both obesity and developing type II diabetes.
3. Protecting you against certain cancers. According to the World Health Organization, nearly one-third of all cancers can be prevented by adopting a more healthy diet. They maintain that your risk of colorectal cancer can be reduced significantly by eating legumes and eating soy products (a staple in most vegetarian diets) can help protect against breast cancer.
While a vegetarian diet may not be the right choice for everyone, this type of diet is likely to extend your life by reducing your risk of heart disease, your risk of developing type II diabetes, and your risk of getting certain cancers.
Helps you shed off excess weight
According to Mayo Clinic, people who maintain a vegetarian diet are generally thinner than those who maintain a non-vegetarian diet. This is because vegetables have fewer calories than meat, cheese and eggs. Calories contribute a lot to weight gain. Vegetables also contain more fiber than meat. Fiber keeps you full and satisfied until your next meal. This reduces the habit of snacking, which increases your calorie. Also, vegetables have lower levels of saturated fats, which is linked to a higher risk of becoming obese, developing cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Lowers your cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. Your body produces some cholesterol but the majority comes from the food you eat, mostly animals, animal products and some dairy products. While cholesterol is good for producing hormones and digestive substances, too much of it can have negative health effects. So, If you’re not consuming meat or dairy products, then you’re ridding your body of cholesterol completely. According to Harvard Medical School, having lower cholesterol in your body increases your lifespan because it reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
Improves your mental health
According to a report published on NationalFacts.org, people who consume plant-based diets have a higher chance of becoming happier in their day-to-day lives than those who consume meat-based diets. Also, multiple studies have shown that vegetarians show fewer symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress than non-vegetarians do. This is because vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which when consumed, significantly reduces the risk of depression. A vegetarian diet cleans your mind and steers you towards more positive thinking.
Reduces your carbon emission and help fight climate change
According to a document prepared for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and published on the BBC website, plant-based diets can help fight climate change. When you shift from animal-based diet to plant-based diet, you free up more land for growing plants. And plants absorb carbon dioxide that you breathe out and vent out oxygen making the environment safe and clean. Shifting to a plant-based diet cuts your personal effect on the environment by 70%. This helps reduce global warming.
You know that vegetables are healthy. Unfortunately, the majority of the population does not consume the required amount of vegetables. Shifting to vegetarian diet will help you consume the required daily amount. And because fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, you’ll be adding more nutrients to your body by consuming them frequently. More nutrients means better nutrition and better health.
Boosts your digestion
Switching to a plant-based diet can help boost your digestive health. Vegetables are rich in fiber. Therefore, maintaining a vegetarian diet helps you feel fuller all the time. Besides helping you lose weight, feeling fuller helps to move food and waste smoothly through your digestive system, preventing cases of diarrhea and constipation. According to Everyday Health, when food and waste move flawlessly through your digestive system, it lowers the risk of developing gut problems, such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Gallstones, and Celiac Disease.