As the world grows aware of the dangers associated to poor eating habits, alternative diets are gaining momentum among people from all walks of life, all around the world.
For those whose concern is not only their own health and healthy living, but also mind other important issues, like animal welfare, sustainable production practices and protecting the environment, vegetarian diets can be precisely what they need.
Recent data tells us that is precisely what is happening right now, since vegetarian diets are currently gaining in popularity in countries across the globe.
The concept of vegetarianism encompasses a few different types of diets. Among vegetarians, you will find semi-vegetarians, who cannot really be considered true vegetarians, since they have only cut out red meat, but still eat white meat and fish. Then, there are fruitarians, who do not eat any animal products and stick to a vegan diet, composed essentially of ripe fruit of trees and plants. By now, you certainly have heard of vegans, who do not eat any animal produce at all, nor use any type of items, like clothing, that were made using animal products. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat meat or eggs, but they kept dairy products in their diet. And, finally, lacto-ovo-vegetarians say no to all types of meat and fish, but do consume eggs and dairy products.
According to numerous studies, a vegetarian diet provides adequate nutrition to adults and children, while also reducing health problems. Scientists have analysed the effects of vegetarianism through the scope of several common diseases, from cancer to cardiovascular conditions, and all results point towards one simple conclusion: vegetarians have better health than meat-eaters.
Here are some of the main benefits associated to following a vegetarian lifestyle:
- Lower risk of coronary heart disease. Eliminating meat from your eating habits will cut your risk of contracting coronary heart disease and suffering from strokes. The main reason for this is the fact that vegetarian recipes and diets are low in saturated fats, high in good fats, and high in antioxidants, which are elements that tend to improve your cardiovascular system.
- Longevity. It is known that, on average, vegetarians live about 7 years longer than meat eaters. Vegans have it even better, since they live up to 15 years longer. ·
- Chronic disease prevention. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can help prevent and even treat chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes.
- Vegetarians are less likely to suffer from cancer. Countries where people eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of cancer than in countries where people consume more animal products. Several studies were able to establish a direct correlation between these facts, determining vegetarianism as the main cause for this phenomenon.
- Vegetarians age better. Because of the high fruit and vegetable content of vegetarian recipes, vegetarian diets are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our cells from damage, such as pollution and smoking, and help reduce the signs and effects of ageing.
- Better hair, nails and skin. With an increased consumption of vegetables and fruits, vegetarians benefit from the abundance of vitamins in their diet. Vitamins play a fundamental role in keeping healthy hair, nails and skin. Moreover, a person’s general health is also reflected precisely on their hair, nails and skin and, since vegetarians tend to have better general health, that means they end up actually looking better too.
- Weight management. Since vegetarian recipes and diets are lower in saturated fats and calories, vegetarians tend to be slimmer than meat eaters.
- Lower cholesterol. The healthy fats found in seeds and nuts – a staple in vegetarian recipes – help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. Vegetarians tend to eat more soya protein, which contains isoflavones capable of lowering cholesterol. On average, vegetarians have 14% lower cholesterol levels than meat eaters.
- Lower risk of bone disease. Studies have shown that vegetarians are at a lesser risk of suffering from bone conditions, like osteoporosis.
Numerous other health benefits have been associated to following a vegetarian diet. The examples mentioned here are some of the most interesting and well documented out there.
Whether a person’s reason to go vegetarian is their own health, or an ethical concern in respect to animal welfare, one thing is for sure: whenever someone decides to become a vegetarian, everybody wins.