Eating a vegetarian diet, even just some of the time, can reduce our environmental impact and improve our health in different ways.
People debate about the pros and cons of a vegetarian diet all the time. There’s the tired trope that vegetarians have to work extra hard to consume the proteins their body needs, while the rest of America tends to eat way too much meat. Fortunately, by eating vegetarian part-time, you can incorporate the best of both worlds.
Cutting out meat forces a lot of people to go outside of their comfort zone and find other ways to get the nutrients their body needs (and, yes, all of the nutrients you need can be found in plant-based foods).
Quitting chicken and replacing it with pasta won’t solve any of your problems. You might save a few chickens and reduce the damage you do to the environment (that’s actually nice), but your health may not exactly skyrocket. Instead of sticking to simple carbs five times a week, learn about protein substitutes and start eating lentils and beans, which are the simplest (and cheapest) options for beginners. Start off slow and ease your body into the transition.
Here are just some of the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Less chance of obesity
When done correctly, a vegetarian diet can decrease the chance of obesity. A Portuguese study found that people who consumed a mostly vegetarian diet were 43% less likely to become obese. “Our recommendation is to eat less meat. Don’t increase the consumption of animal foods. Prefer plant-based foods to animal foods,” said one of the authors of the study.
Better heart health
In 2015, the American Heart Association said that consuming less meat could cut your risk of having a stroke or some form of heart disease by 20%. This could be due to the fact that vegetarians aren’t consuming red meat, which has been associated with high cholesterol and heart disease.
More consumption of fiber
By eating less meat, you’ll naturally consume more veggies, fruits, seeds, whole grains, and other plant-based foods. All of these foods provide fiber, something that plays an important role in everyone’s diet. “These plant foods are very high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are all key components for reducing the risk for chronic disease,” says Stephanie Papadakis, founder of Gut of Integrity.
A change in your gut microbiome
Your gut microbiome is the amount of bacteria that lives in your stomach. There’s thousands of little guys there, affecting our health, immune systems, the amount of vitamins in our bodies, and more.