Following a vegetarian diet is very popular with many people who want to give up eating meat. At the same time, we tend to think of a vegetarian diet as being automatically much healthier than one with meat included, but is this actually the case? The truth is that there are both benefits and disadvantages associated with becoming a vegetarian; by being aware of them all, you can more easily make a decision when it comes to changing your diet in the right way.
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons:
Pros and Cons of a Vegetarian Diet
Pro: Controlling your weight
Research shows that people following a vegetarian diet have less chance of putting on too much weight. This is possibly due to the fact that lower calorie foods are eaten and meat is replaced with such things as fresh vegetables, fruit and pulses.
As being over-weight carries with it many health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and a whole host of other unpleasant side effects, eradicating fatty meat from your diet can be a good thing. Staying away from fast foods such as burgers and fried chicken will generally result in a diet that is healthier and lower in calories.
Con: Missing out on vitamins, minerals and nutrients
When you are not eating meat, it is essential to ensure that you still obtain enough protein and essential nutrients in your diet. For example, vitamin B12 is only found in animal-based products hence vegetarians will only find this in eggs and dairy foods.
The very valuable omega 3 can be found in walnuts and flaxseeds to make up for not eating oily fish. Many vegetarians also take vitamin supplements as a top up. If you fail to take account of this, then you might find your body suffering due to nutrient deficiencies.
Pro: Health benefits
If you are following a good vegetarian diet then your health can be vastly improved. You do however need to make sure that your diet includes a mix of food sources that will naturally provide you with all that you need; go for foods that have good sources of potassium and fibre such as vegetables, fruit, pulses and whole grain.
Your blood pressure will remain low and heart disease will be less likely as you will be avoiding things like fatty meat and items high in saturated fats. Veggie diets are also good for keeping your cholesterol low as bad cholesterol mostly originates from food derived from animals.
Con: You think you will automatically be healthier
Many of us give up meat and think that immediately our health is improved, but this is not necessarily the case. You are not automatically healthier purely because meat is being avoided. It is easy enough to skip meat and still fill up on unhealthy foods such as those full of sugar and solid fats; think chips and doughnuts and you will be on the way to a bad diet, just minus the meat.
You still have to think healthy even though you are vegetarian. If you keep to the basic rules of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds, you will not fall foul of the trap that many fall into.
These are just a few of the pros and cons associated with a vegetarian diet. If you focus on the health benefits and remain proactive about what you eat, you will become a healthy vegetarian.
If you would like further help and advice follow this link to the Vegetarian Society