Chances are you or someone you know is vegetarian, as this lifestyle change is becoming increasingly popular. It’s not as hard as it used to be to give up meat, as there’s plenty of vegetarian substitutions that weren’t even an option years ago. Cafes that are all vegan are popping up serving all animal-free food.
So is meat that bad for you? Should you give it up completely? We weigh the pros and cons to help you decide!
Pro: Your cholesterol can decrease.
A huge source of cholesterol in our diet comes from animal products – cheese, meat, etc. Many people in the United States are over their recommended cholesterol level, and a plant-based diet may help. Replacing some animal products with vegetarian options can help lower cholesterol levels naturally. Soy may also reduce cholesterol for those who can tolerate it.
Pro: You can reduce inflammation.
All too often, people have a dairy allergy or intolerance without knowing it. Many often associate your throat swelling up as the sign of being allergic to something, but the body can be intolerant to something without such dramatic symptoms. If you often have stomach or digestion issues after eating dairy, your body may not be processing it well. Those who eat a plant-based diet typically have less inflammation in their diet due to the antioxidants and fiber found in vegetables.
Con: You might not get an adequate amount of protein.
There are plenty of vegetarians and even vegans who can get enough protein every day. Some even get more protein than meat eaters. It can be tricky to substitute meat in the beginning though. If it’s your first time cutting out meat, you’ll want to research where to get your protein from. Good sources include tofu, lentils, black beans, quinoa, and hemp seeds.
Con: You’ll have to be careful to get in enough nutrients.
Similar to watching the amount of protein you’re intaking, you need to make sure you’re still getting the right level of vitamins and minerals. There may be some supplements you need to take in place of ones you were getting from meat. Vitamin D is often found in fortified dairy products, so vegans will need to supplement that in their diet. Vitamin B12 is also crucial for a functioning body, which is normally found in eggs, dairy, fish, and meat.
The Verdict: Try reducing the amount of meat in your diet a few days a week and increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption.
It’s a personal choice whether you want to go vegetarian, vegan, or just have Meatless Mondays. Experiment a bit and see how your body feels with and without meat. Who knows, you may end up feeling like a completely different person with a few small tweaks to your diet!
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