If you’re trying to eat healthier, you may be considering omitting meat from your diet. Many restaurants and supermarkets now offer protein alternatives to make your decision easier. But is a vegetarian diet healthier? Learn about the pros and cons of a diet for vegetarian or vegan vs. Although all vegetarians avoid eating meat, poultry and sometimes fish, there are many different variations of the vegetarian diet. Approximately 8 million adults in the U. About one-half of vegetarians are also vegans — approximately 3.
Eating a vegetarian diet changes mealtime focus from one hunk of protein to a mix of proteins and fats. Get creative, and have fun with your menu. Surveys in the United States have estimated that nearly 30 million people eat diets that are largely or entirely meat-free. Many do so because they have ethical concerns about killing animals: they follow the principle of “not eating anything with eyes. For at least 30 years, evidence has emerged that such diets also may improve long-term health. Recent studies of the long-term health effects of meat-free, plant-based diets have provided further evidence of their benefits. People with BMIs above 30 are obese, and obesity is associated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, diverticulitis, heart disease, and other illnesses. A study published in the March 9, , issue of JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that a meat-free diet can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. A study published Feb. The benefits were especially strong for men.
There are several variations depending on whether additional animal products are consumed; ranging from vegan avoidance of all animal products to flexitarian meat or fish occasionally consumed. With these exceptions, all other food sources are permissible. Many vegetarians restrict their diets beyond a health rationale for ethical animal cruelty and environmental reasons to reduce the resources consumed and pollution produced. Analysis : Numerous studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is one of the most effective for maintaining health. Plant-based diets are healthier than diets where meat is consumed, whether measured by the occurrence of heart disease, cancer, or death. These benefits are likely because of both the avoidance of meat and the predominance of dietary vegetables and fruits. Lack of all animal foods does create a potential risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, so supplementing for this micronutrient may be necessary. In contrast, despite a common misperception, meat consumption is not necessary to obtain a sufficient intake of protein. Dominant sources of protein : Legumes including soy products, nuts, grains. For ovo-lacto vegetarians, dairy and eggs are added protein sources. Variations : Including eggs and dairy products ovo-lacto vegetarian, including fish only pescetarian, including meat on occasion flexitarian, or eliminating all animal products vegan are options.