Are you considering switching to a vegetarian diet, but want to know about the benefits you can expect first? Or do you have a loved one who isn’t fully on-board with you making the lifestyle change to being a vegetarian? If so, this post is for you!
To help you better understand the advantages going “veggie” can have on your mind and body, we’re sharing eight benefits of a vegetarian diet. The benefits on this list just might have you and others eliminating meat from your diet altogether.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. It Eliminates the Consumption of Additives Found in Cooked Meat
It’s not a huge secret that cooked meat can actually contain harmful additives and byproducts. When cooked at high temperatures, heterocyclic amines can be created within your meat. This can actually have carcinogenic effects. In fact, processed meat has been linked to a higher risk for developing cancer.
By following a vegetarian diet, you eliminate this risk because you’ll be cutting out processed meats altogether. Instead, you can consume various plant-based proteins, which are safer and still provide the fiber, antioxidants, and amino acids your body needs. The best part is that you won’t have to worry that you’re eating something that’s potentially carcinogenic.
2. It Could Lower Your Risk of Developing Cancer
There’s no denying that receiving a cancer diagnosis is a scary thing to go through. It’s something that most of us would like to avoid in our lifetime and therefore do what we can to prevent it. If you want to lower your risk of developing cancer, you just might want to go vegetarian.
A study that was published in the British Journal of Cancer found that those who ate the most red meat and processed meat were found to have the highest risk of breast cancer. Plus, other research has shown a link between eating meat and gastric, pancreatic, colon, and prostate cancers.
3. Plant-Based Foods Provide Many Vitamins and Antioxidants
Not only will you be eliminating so many potentially harmful additives by cutting meat from your diet, but many plant-based foods offer a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. You’ll likely be consuming more vegetables, fruit, and legumes, all of which are nutritious and good for your body. You can even opt for vegetarian-friendly breads with ancient grains, as they’re great for you as well. These foods will provide you with antioxidants and phytonutrients like beta-carotene, flavonoids, resveratrol, and more.
Not only that, but eating plenty of fruits and veggies will deliver the essential vitamins your body needs. There is, however, a risk of developing a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 when you eliminate animal proteins from your diet. To combat this, you can add a supplement to your daily routine or consider topping some of your favorite dishes with nutritional yeast, which is packed with good-for-you ingredients.
4. Being Vegetarian Can Support Your Heart Health
Studies have noted a link between eating a high-fiber diet and having a greater protection against heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The reason a vegetarian diet comes in handy here is because many plant-based foods provide plenty of dietary fiber, which is so important to have in your diet.
In fact, the Journal of American College of Cardiology published a study that showed that consumption of healthier plant-based foods has been associated with a much lower risk for coronary heart disease. Keeping your heart healthy is just one of the benefits of a vegetarian diet, but it’s certainly a huge advantage.
5. You Just Might Lose Some Weight
If you’ve been struggling to shed those last few pounds, switching to a vegetarian diet actually might help you out. Since you’re likely to increase your consumption of fruits and veggies, you’ll be able to stay fuller longer, without eating too many calories. Veggies and fruits are typically low-calorie, so you never have to feel guilty for eating them.
Plus, a 2015 study in the Permanente Journal showed that a vegetarian diet can help lower body mass index and decrease your risk for diabetes. It’s also been shown to help with high blood pressure, as well as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
6. It May Help Improve Your Mood
At Benedictine University, some researchers conducted a study to determine how the mood changes when you eliminate animal proteins from your diet. They found that the mood improved when people cut out meat, fish, and poultry.
7. It’s Better for the Environment
Did you know that raising cattle for both milk and beef creates a lot of harmful greenhouse gases? For many people, they opt to cut meat from their diets as a way to protect the environment because it helps to lower the carbon footprint. Plant-based foods require less natural resources, meaning it’s much more sustainable for our environment.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that it requires a higher proportion of water, land, fossil fuels, and energy to manufacture animal foods than plant foods. Protecting our environment is just one of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. While it might not seem like much, everyone makes a difference in the world today.
8. You Protect Animals of the World
And of course, one of the main reasons people switch to a vegetarian diet is for the protection of animals around the world. Many of the animals we consume are kept in inhumane conditions and endure cruel slaughter practices. Cutting animal products from your diet can help save the lives of many animals each year.