Giving Up Meat: What You Need to Know
By Sara Butler
Giving up meat is a big decision and if you’ve been thinking of it, you’re probably already familiar with the variety of benefits to your health by going meat-free. If you need a reminder about all those benefits, remember that meatless diets have been shown to lower your risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and a variety of other conditions. But there are also some pretty important things to consider about your health as you transition to a meatless lifestyle.
Going Cold Turkey isn’t Required
New vegetarians or vegans often start out really going for the gusto, but going all in can be really difficult. If you really want to make solid changes to your diet and give up meat, you’ll have far more success in the long run if you ease into the changes.
Many dietitians suggest starting off by going meatless one day a week and then gradually increasing. Do it slowly so you can gauge how you feel along the way and decide how this change fits into your life. If your goal is to eventually remove all animal products from your diet, then try going vegetarian first as you slowly move toward being fully vegan.
You Need Variety
Variety is the spice of life -- and it’s also essential to a balanced and healthy diet. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, that doesn’t mean you must live on tofu and kale alone. You need to ensure that beans, seeds, legumes, lentils, nuts, and whole grains have a starring role in your everyday eats. Also, make sure you limit sweets and fatty foods because Oreos are vegan too!
Supplements May Be Required
One nutrient that is important but difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get enough of is Vitamin B12; it is vital to your cellular health and if you don’t get enough of it you may feel fatigued, weak, confused, and even become paranoid. Make sure you’re getting foods fortified with B12 and take a supplement if needed.
Iron is also of great concern to people who choose to go meatless, especially women. Great non-meat sources of iron include legumes, raisins, leafy greens, and sunflower seeds. Just make sure you’re paying attention to how you feel so any deficiencies can be identified as soon as possible.
Going meat-free can be a healthy lifestyle choice as long as you stay informed and get what your body needs!
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Alberquerque, N.M.