There are many, many reasons why any one person decides to adopt a vegetarian diet, from animal cruelty issues, environmental protection, religion, cost and health. For me, all of these are important and valuable causes that I have considered when making the decision to switch. The main benefits that I saw of a vegetarian diet were however the health effects. Animals are awesome and the environment is irreplaceable but let’s face it: us humans are pretty selfish beings. Here’s a list of the great things a vegetarian diet can do for you!
1. Avoid Toxic Chemicals: According to EPA almost 95% of pesticide residue that we take in comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish retain a scarily large amount of carcinogenic chemicals which is one reason why a vegetarian diet reduces the probability of cancer. As well as this meat products regularly contain hormones and steriods used to escalate growth in the animal which are not necessarily suitable for human consumption. Not to mention 70% of our antibiotics are fed to livestock. This leads to an over usage of antibiotics reducing their effectiveness when we actually need them to fight infection. Recent research claims vegetarians are 40% less likely to develop any kind of cancer than meat eaters. That’s a hell of a lot.
2. Stay Young!! Many studies conclude that vegetarians have an increased life expectancy due to their diet. One 12 year study in Oxford claims that vegetarians live on average 6 years longer than meat eaters. Others however estimate an added 13 years of life. A 30 year study of 600 residents of Okinawa, Japan, -who have one the longest life expectancies in the world- put their lengthened years down to their fibre rich diet of mainly fruit and veg. Vegetarianism and veganism are known to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, kidney stones and gallstones. It’s pretty obvious, y’all, plant based diets are good for you.
3. Dairy is baaad: Yes, this kind of only applies to vegan diets or ovo-vegetarians (me). Firstly, let’s point out that cow’s milk is developed for calf consumption. If you did not already know this, humans are not calves. Cows (and calves) have four stomachs, humans have one. Cow’s milk is the number 1 cause of allergies in humans as after the age of 2 we produce much less lactase (the enzyme needed to break down lactose) and as a result our body finds it difficult to digest milk and dairy. Humans are the only species that consumes milk after infancy and the only species that consumes another animal’s milk. And people say vegetarianism is going against our nature?
4. Plant milk > dairy milk: Milk is controversially claimed to increase the risk of osteoporosis particularly in women. A Harvard Nurses’ Study of more than 77,000 women ages 34 to 59 found that those who consumed two or more glasses of milk per day had higher risks of broken hips and arms than those who drank one glass or less per day. Not only this but Chinese people consume half as much calcium as Americans but have a much lower incident rate of bone disease. The difference is that they source their calcium from plant food. I know, I was always taught that milk = calcium = healthy bones. Has my whole life been a lie!!?
5. Lose Weight: Maybe. Spoiler alert, you don’t need to be slim to be healthy. Another life spoiler: you don’t need to be slim to be happy, worthy or respected. Research has shown however that vegetarians normally sustain their natural, healthy weight as opposed to gaining excess. Vegetarians have a much lower obesity rate compared to meat eaters. Not to mention, if you have recently lost some weight and you’re worried about regaining it then a healthy, vegetarian diet plus some regular exercise is a sure fire way to avoid this.
Vegetarian and vegan diets can provide all the nutrients that we humans need to live healthily. The important thing to remember when starting off is to plan in advance. Meal plans are an essential way to ensure you are getting all the nutrition you need and also help structure your diet so you don’t accidently binge on a steak dinner. I’ll be going through in detail soon how to make a diet plan so you can quickly and easily change your lifestyle to a healthier alternative.