The debate could go on and on as to what is better, going completely vegetarian, part vegetarian, or completely non-vegetarian? It all started with the pre-historic humans who hunted animals for food. The meat was not only just a part of their diet; it was a staple food for them.
Today, though the number of people who consume animal products outweighs the number of people who don’t, the changing trend seems to suggest that more and more of them are converting from being non-vegetarian to completely vegetarian.
It’s a present-day fashion alright, but does it mean that going vegetarian will provide your body with all the nutrients you’re going to need to run through your daily motions with ease? The answer is “no”! But as you already may have heard that excess of anything is bad; consuming only animal products has its set of problems whereas surviving only on vegetarian foods also has its share of deficiencies.
Where to draw the line then and what’s the best option? Read the following section that highlights the pros and cons of vegetarianism and decide for yourself.
- The direct link between consumption of animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, etc, and heart diseases has been established by a recent study. It has been found that those who had the highest amount of animal foods also had high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart diseases. Also, it was established that vegetarians who ate little or no animal products had low cholesterol levels.
- There are several epidemiological studies to support an increased risk of cancer in people who consumed larger amounts of animal products as compared to those who didn’t. It’s because eating a vegetarian diet leads to shorter transit time and reduces the production of carcinogens, thereby reducing the risk of cancer of the colon.
- Vegetarian diets are easy to digest and don’t take long. Moreover, having vegetarian food doesn’t make you feel lethargic because it keeps the blood sugar levels constant throughout the day. Meat, on the other hand, is difficult for the body to digest and takes even longer if one doesn’t have an active lifestyle, as a result of which, the meat stays in the stomach longer than vegetarian food items.
- Another great advantage that a vegetarian diet has over non-vegetarian diet is that it checks your weight, prevents obesity and diseases related to it. Also, those looking to shed some weight off the belly can do so by turning to a vegetarian diet. It’ll help them lose weight in a short period of time.
- There is some research that suggests that animal protein may be bad for bone health. It’s because animal protein is acidic in nature and pulls calcium out of the bones, making them weaker. Protein derived from vegetarian foods, on the other hand, is less acidic in nature. Studies, however, remain inconclusive.
- A typical vegetarian diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts, grains, and seeds lowers the risk of many disorders like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney diseases, osteoporosis, cancer, and gallstones. Also, food-borne diseases like mad cow disease, and bird flu, intestinal parasites, and viruses will be kept at bay if one follows a strict vegetarian diet.
- A complete vegetarian diet is not apt for people looking to gain weight and build body muscles as vegetarian foods contain lower levels of protein when compared to the animal products like meats, milk, and eggs, etc. Moreover, a diet low on carbohydrates and proteins also increases the chances of anemia.
- Apart from proteins, animal products like meat, fish, eggs, etc are high in iron, calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and zinc as compared to vegetarian products. As a result, vegetarians run the risk of becoming deficient in all these nutrients that are absolutely essential for maintaining a sound health.
- Though there are eating joints and restaurants that only offer a specialized vegetarian menu; on a general basis, there is a lack of vegetarian food choices when eating out. Variety in food choices is available in the non-vegetarian foods department.
- It may be a little difficult to adapt to the vegetarian diet for people who are not born vegetarians. The whole grocery list may have to be redone and the person concerned will always be on the lookout for food items that have hidden animal-based ingredients.
The key to sound health is to maintain a balanced diet that doesn’t exclude any of the food group.