Pros and Cons of Being a Vegetarian
By Paul Rothbart
Vegetarian diets have been around for quite a while now and there are many people who have embraced them enthusiastically. The reasons for doing so are varied. Some believe that vegetarianism is healthier, others do it for the moral implications of eating animals. Whatever the reason, a vegetarian diet is quite different than a traditional diet that includes meat. As such, it has pros and cons. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian.
Less Risk of Disease
Vegetarian diets call for fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Nuts and seeds are also part of a healthy vegetarian diet. These foods are often lacking in a traditional food plan. These foods contain vitamins and minerals that can reduce the risk of a number of chronic diseases. A study of both vegetarians and vegans found that both groups had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Another study discovered that a vegetarian diet may reduce cholesterol.
May Increase Longevity
Another potential benefit of excluding meat from the diet is a longer lifespan. Some studies have shown that people who eat a healthy vegetarian diet tend to live longer than those who eat meat. A 2014 study found that vegetarians were 12 percent less likely to die of all causes than nonvegetarians. It should be taken into account that vegetarians often practice other disciplines that may contribute significantly to longevity.
Possible Nutritional Deficiencies
On the con side, it can be difficult to get some nutrients that are commonly found in animal foods. Vitamin B12 is in most meats. By not eating meat, other sources must be found. Eggs contain this essential nutrient, but this is a problem for vegans who don't eat eggs. Vitamin D is another nutrient that vegetarians must account for. It is added to milk, which is also not consumed by vegans. Omega-3 fatty acids are also difficult to come by for those who don't eat meat. Vegetarians must find other sources for these nutrients or take supplements.
More Limited Food Choices
By eliminating meat, fish, and poultry, meal options become more limited. This is not necessarily a problem, but some vegetarians may become bored eating the same foods all the time. It will take time for those who have switched to a vegetarian diet to adjust and find a greater variety of foods that suit their needs.
There are pros and cons to a vegetarian diet. Many people live healthy and happy lives without eating meat. In the end, it is a personal choice. Vegetarianism can work, provided all the body's nutritional needs are met.
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