Many people become vegetarians in the hopes to become healthy. But is a vegetarian diet really good for you? Today, we will be looking into this issue.
But before we begin, let’s talk first about what a vegetarian is. Simply put, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat. This includes fish. But that does not mean that a vegetarian avoids all animal products. Therefore, while they may not eat meat, they can still drink milk and eat eggs.
If you avoid all animal products, including milk and eggs, that puts you in the category of vegans. Vegans are more extreme for that reason and usually feel very strongly about their lifestyle.
The short answer about whether a vegetarian diet is better for your health is that, yes, in most cases, it is. Studies have shown that vegetarians usually have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, which are two of the biggest threats to good health.
But not all vegetarians are healthy. Even if you avoid meat, if you eat fries, cheese pizzas, and drink milk all day, you will likely not be healthy at all. Therefore, it’s important to eat sensibly even if you are a vegetarian, and understand that just because you’re avoiding meat, your diet won’t automatically be a healthy one.
One big risk for vegetarians is not getting enough protein. As you probably know, meat is one of the primary sources of protein in most people’s diets. When you take this out of the equation, you must find other ways to get your protein. For vegetarians, this isn’t too difficult, since they can get protein through other animal products like cheese, milk, and yogurt. For vegans, it can be a lot more difficult. One good source of protein is beans and tofu. Also, if you go to Whole Foods or Trade Joes, you will find plenty of meat alternatives that provide a good deal of protein.
Aside from that Vitamin B12 is something else you may be low on if you follow a vegetarian diet. For this reason, you should get yourself a good B12 supplement and take it daily. You can typically get good supplements online at a decent price. Make sure you use discount coupons for your online purchases, as this can often slash the price you pay considerably.
Alternatives to being a vegetarian
Maybe you’ve thought about becoming a vegetarian, but find it too much of a commitment. For those people, there are a couple sensible alternatives worth taking a look at.
One of them is to eat only fish and no other meats. This diet is often called pescetarian, and some people argue that it’s healthier than a vegetarian diet because you will be getting Omega 3 oils, which are almost universally considered a great health benefit. Note that if you eat a lot of fish, you should be mindful of your mercury levels. Use online calculators to ensure you aren’t getting mercury poisoning if you become a pescetarian.
A less extreme option is to simply cut out red meat. This means your protein sources will primarily be turkey, chicken, and fish. Red meat typically has the most cholesterol and most fat, so by cutting it out, you can reduce your fat and cholesterol diet. Although this option does not go as far as the other diets we talked about, you should still see some health benefits by resolving to avoid red meat altogether.
I believe that diet is the most important thing that relates to your health. A healthy diet, as far as I’m concerned is significantly more important than exercise. If you eat healthy and don’t exercise much, you will still be in pretty good health. On the other hand, even if you exercise, if you eat junk all the time, I doubt you will be doing well.
To be sure, there are tons of diets you can follow, each touting its own set of benefits. But why not stick to the tried and tested diets? Vegetarian, Vegan, and Pescetarian diets have been around for years, and their benefits are well-known and well-understood.
Changing your diet takes a lot of commitment and willpower. Chances are, you won’t be able to become a vegan or vegetarian overnight. There is some dispute over whether such a drastic change is even healthy. Thus, I believe the best way to switch your diet is making a transition. Perhaps you can start out by eating vegetarian or vegan diets 3 days a week, then slowly work your way toward eating such a diet every day of the week. This way, your body will slowly adjust to the changes. It’s also easier to make a lifestyle change in increments and ease yourself into it. You’ll be more likely to succeed in switching your diet if you make the transition at a reasonable pace instead of suddenly.
For more information on vegetarian diets, I recommend the video below.