Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
Are you considering becoming a vegetarian? Some people cite ethical reasons for their decision; others embrace vegetarianism for health reasons. Many vegetarians believe that their dietary choices go beyond their immediate families and meal choices. Others just want a better lifestyle for their families.
Nearly all vegetarians can cite benefits to their diet of some sort. Here are some of the purported benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Meat is expensive. Replacing it with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (especially if you buy produce in season and whole grains in bulk) will save you a great deal of money. Some sources estimate the average family could save $4000 a year by replacing meat with plant-based whole foods.
Another area of economic benefit of vegetarianism is the cost of health care. A host of health problems have been associated with eating meat (heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.). Some health professionals conjecture that health care costs could be greatly reduced if more people were eating a vegetarian diet.
There are all kinds of potential health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Some of the more common purported health benefits include the following:
- Cancer – A vegetarian diet is reputed to lower your risk of cancer. Breast cancer in particular has been linked to the consumption of red meat. Some of this may be due to the hormone disruption that can occur when artificial hormones, sometimes found in meat, are consumed. Or it may be due to the saturated fat content of red meat. Vegetarian diets are also said to reduce the risk of colon, skin, and prostate cancers.
- Heart Disease – Animal fat consumption has been associated with increased risk of heart disease. Because a vegetarian diet is low in or devoid of animal fat, some experts say that a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. There have been various studies done in Europe that indicate vegetarianism reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Cholesterol – It has been reported that vegetarians as a group have lower cholesterol than meat eaters. This may be due in part to the high fiber content of the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans that vegetarians consume.
- Weight – People who become vegetarians often experience weight loss. Being overweight is associated with a host of health problems, all of which would, presumably, be reduced with a loss of weight.
Environmental and Ethical
Many vegetarians are concerned for the welfare of animals and for the environment. Because forest land is often destroyed to make way for grazing beef cattle, some vegetarians refrain from eating meat to reduce the number of beef cattle and therefore the amount of deforested land. Other vegetarians consider it beneficial to save an animal’s life, and do not eat meat for this reason.
Other environmental benefits that may be components of vegetarianism include less fuel used in transporting animals and meat long distances, reduction of methane (a gas produced by cattle), and decreased erosion from feedlot lands.
Whether you’re currently practicing a vegetarian lifestyle or are contemplating it, I hope this information helps.
Here’s some great meat-free recipes to get you started: