Thinking of taking the plunge and going totally meatless? Check these 5 reasons why you should, PLUS a few tips to help you on your vegetarian journey.
So, you’ve been considering this whole vegetarian thing, but not totally convinced? You’ve tried #MeatlessMondays, given it up for lent and have cut way down on the meat you do eat, but still not sure you’re ready to jump in? Or are you a committed vegetarian, struggling to convert your partner or family? These 5 powerful reasons to go vegetarian should sway any nay-sayers – read on to find out more!
The 5 Reasons Why You Should Go Vegetarian TODAY:
- Vegetarians Live Longer
Vegetarians, it21 has2 been3 shown4, have greater longevity than the general, meat-consuming population. This may be due2, in part to the increased consumption of healthy foods, like fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grain cereals: a diet which has been widely linked to lowering the risk of several chronic diseases. Not only this, but higher consumption of red meat is actually shown5 to increase risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer – so even if you don’t feel ready to take on a totally vegetarian diet just yet, cut down on the red meat, and fill up on healthful fruits, vegetables and whole grains to have the same effect.
- Vegetarian Diets are Naturally Lower in Fat
As the leading cause of death7 in both men and women, heart disease is a very real worry for many people – particularly if there is a history in the family. The great news? A vegetarian diet is usually lower in saturated fat1 and cholesterol6 than a diet containing meat. Cutting down on saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet has8 been9 shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as other known chronic diseases – great news for vegetarians! Not only that, but we all know that reducing saturated fat and cholesterol contributes to healthy weight-loss13 too: a win-win.
- Vegetarian Foods Reduce Your Exposure to Harmful Chemicals
Vegetarians expose10 themselves, (and their children16) to far fewer environmental pollutants and agricultural chemicals. One chemical in particular that a vegetarian diet has been11 shown to reduce exposure to is Mercury, in fact a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables may actually lower12 mercury levels in the body, even if you don’t give up potentially mercury-filled foods like fish, just yet. A vegetarian diet and lifestyle have also been shown to reduce the presence of other harmful chemical pollutants in the body, including zinc and copper14 and lead15, too. If you are thinking of cutting down on meat, you’re thinking right: this study17 shows that even ‘short-term changes’ in your diet, towards vegetarianism, can vastly reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.
- There are More Vitamins in Plant-Based Foods
So, not only is there less of the bad stuff in a vegetarian diet, there’s also likely to be more of the good stuff: heathy vitamins and nutrients, making it far easier for vegetarians to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Due to an increased intake of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, vegetarians have actually been shown18 to have comparable or better levels of most vitamins, including A, C, and E, as well as22 of essential elements like folic acid, potassium and magnesium, compared to the population as a whole. People on a long-term vegetarian diet also have19 better antioxidant status than omnivores. Dietary fiber, essential for the prevention of chronic disease, is also far more prevalent in the typical vegetarian diet than in a high-meat diet20. One vitamin that is a cause for concern23 amongst those considering a vegetarian diet is B12, an essential vitamin, especially for expectant mothers25, however it is perfectly possibly to consume adequate amounts on B12 eating a natural, vegetarian diet, or even to use supplements24 if you are particularly worried. The vegetarian society26 lists cereals, soya, and fermented products, amongst others, as great meatless sources of vitamin B12 – so be sure to get plenty of those in your vegetarian diet.
- Your Health Isn’t the Only Reason to go Vegetarian
A few bonus reasons to go vegetarian (that have absolutely nothing to do with your personal health) include:
- The cost. See all those points above, showing that a vegetarian diet makes you healthier? Think of the savings in your healthcare bill! And if that isn’t an immediate enough, TIME27 estimates an annual saving of $750 on your groceries. Think what you could do with an extra $750 in your back pocket!
- Not to get all eco-warrior on you, but do you know how much fossil fuel is used to produce animal meat for human consumption? Non- vegetarian diets require around two and a half times more energy to produce than plant-based diets do: fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, pasta and potatoes all typically28 have far lower emissions of CO2 per kilo than beef and pork. Vegetarianism is important29 for the preservation of environmental resources: a predominantly plant-based diet is far more sustainable than a meat-heavy one, so cutting down the meat in your diet is good for everyone, not just for you.
- The other great thing about cooking and eating totally meatless meals? You’ll actually become a better (and more versatile) cook. By removing a food group that so many people blindly rely on to fill up their plates, you have to get creative. Check out some of our recipe on cookingyourself.com to see just how delicious and varied a vegetarian diet can be.
Still think going vegetarian will be a struggle? It might be. But keep these reasons you should go for it in mind, and hopefully that will give you that little push of motivation you need to go 100% meat-free (or at least to cut down on your meat consumption).
Got a friend or loved one who needs a little persuading? Show them you care by sharing this article with them. Check out our vegetarian recipes like this Polish Cabbage and Dill Recipe with Easy Poached Eggs or this Healthy Peanut Butter and Broccoli Curry Recipe.