With an increased interest in health and fitness in recent years, a significant number of people have embraced vegetarianism and veganism. As well as providing a diet rich in nutrients, many people believe that a vegetarian diet enables them to lose weight and hone their physique.
Although there are certainly plenty of vegetarian eating benefits, it’s important to consider any changes to your diet carefully. Before starting a new regime or trying vegetarianism, for example, you may want to learn more about the benefits so that you are able to improve your health, energy and fitness levels.
What constitutes a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian food plan simply involves cutting all meat products out of your diet. While some vegetarians, often known as pescatarians, do choose to continue eating fish, most strict vegetarians choose not to. As well as switching to plant-based foods and products, Ovo-Lacto vegetarians do continue to eat some animal derivatives, such as eggs or dairy products.
While a vegetarian diet may sound restrictive at first, there are plenty of tasty options available. Fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes, as well as whole grains and vegetables, can all be enjoyed when on a vegetarian diet.
Unlike vegans or strict vegetarians, Ovo-Lacto vegetarians still consume eggs and dairy, so products such as yogurts, milk, and cream can be added to meals. Due to increasing numbers of vegetarians, many store-bought products are now free from meat products. Although this increases the range of foods available to vegetarians, it is important to check labels before you buy or consume anything. With new food labeling guidelines, however, you should find it easy to locate meat-free products and reap the vegetarian eating benefits as a result.
Improved health on a vegetarian diet
Many people associate animal-derived foods with health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, various cancers and obesity. Although this is a hotly contested topic, a significant number of medical professionals and researchers are in agreement that a diet rich in animal products can have a damaging effect on one’s health.
By switching to a plant-based diet, therefore, individuals can take control of their health and improve their cardiovascular fitness. Before starting your new regime, you may want to consult your doctor so that key health indicators, such as your heart’s output, your blood pressure and your weight can be monitored. Regular testing can then be used to confirm the benefits of your new diet and may help you to make subtle changes to your food intake in order to improve your health even further.
Increase your vitamin and antioxidant intake
Antioxidants are believed to fight oxidative stress and, as a result, help to halt the development of diseases. In addition to this, vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C and E or magnesium, are required by our bodies in order to work properly.
One of the major vegetarian eating benefits is the increased intake of these substances. As a plant-based diet tends to contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it’s believed that people can help to stop or limit chronic illnesses, prevent harmful deficiencies and reduce signs of aging, if they eat in this way.
Lowering your weight with vegetarian eating
In many countries, obesity has become endemic and it carries a number of health factors too. Type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and digestive issues can all arise because of obesity, so it’s important to keep your weight within a healthy range.
Although natural vegetarian foods are filling and high in essential vitamins, they tend to be relatively low in calories. This means that you can eat a satisfying diet without exceeding the appropriate number of calories. Similarly, you can easily reduce your fat intake when you’re eating a plant-based diet and this constitutes just one of a number of vegetarian eating benefits.
Reduce additives and hidden ingredients
Unfortunately, meat products are often processed and it’s believed that these are carcinogenic. Additionally, when meat is cooked at a high temperature, it can release heterocyclic amines and these are though to mimic carcinogens too. As a result, a diet high in meat could be linked to a higher risk of cancer developing within your body.
As plant-based diets enable you to access protein, nutrients, and essential amino acids without the carcinogenic side-effects, you have the opportunity to access the crucial sustenance you need, without the potentially harmful effects.
What type of vegetarian diet is best?
While many people assume that a vegetarian diet simply involves excluding meat, there is more to it than that. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians continue to consume eggs and dairy, for example, while pescatarians also eat fish and/or seafood. Raw food vegetarians and vegans even shun all cooked food in order to benefit from consuming food in its natural state, such as increased digestive enzymes.
There are vegetarian eating benefits associated with all types of vegetarian diets, but it’s important to find a regime which works for you. If you’re keen to become vegan, for example, you may want to try a vegetarian lifestyle for a while first. Making significant changes to your eating habits can be a shock to the system and people are generally more successful when they make slow and consistent changes, rather than attempting to overhaul their diet in a matter of hours or days.
Remember – it’s important to keep to a varied diet, even if you’re becoming vegetarian or vegan. Limiting your diet to only a few foods could prevent you from accessing the nutrients you need and may even result in you developing deficiencies.
Choosing a plant-based diet
With so many vegetarian eating benefits, making the choice to eat a plant-based diet is often clear-cut. As well as the health benefits associated with vegetarianism and veganism, many people prefer to eat a plant-based diet due to ethical concerns and animal welfare issues.
By changing the way you eat and incorporating a vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, ovo-lacto vegetarian or even a raw food diet into your lifestyle, you can, therefore, improve your own health and the environment around you.