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Benefits and Drawbacks of Vegetarian Diet
- We’re all familiar with the benefits of a diet full of healthy fruits and vegetables, but it’s important to look at the drawbacks of a diet containing only fruits and veggies
- One of the biggest benefits of vegetarian diets is that they often include little saturated fat because they cut out meat
- Unbelievably, there is such a thing as a high protein vegetarian diet, and that option might be the best for you
If you have ever considered trying a vegetarian diet, you’ll find plenty of excellent reasons why you should. Whether you want to improve your health or are concerned about the welfare of slaughtered animals, being a vegetarian can make you feel better inside and out. However, there are some drawbacks of vegetarian diet menus that might make you want to reconsider or, at least, plan your transition more carefully.
Vegetarian Diet Explained
Before examining the drawbacks and benefits of vegetarian diet choices, we first need to examine what it means to be a vegetarian. Today, there are a number of acceptable options to consider depending on just how much you are willing to change about your existing diet.
If you want to be a full-fledged vegetarian, you eat no meat of any kind, including fish. You would also cut out dairy products and eggs because these are made from animals. However, if you’re not willing to go that far, you can choose alternatives. For example, the lacto-ovo vegetarians are fine with consuming dairy and egg products but maintain a strict no-meat diet. You could also choose to eat one and not the other. Another choice is to be a semi-vegetarian which means you stay away from meat products but will indulge in the occasional helping of fish or poultry for protein purposes.
The strictest form of vegetarianism is the vegan diet. If you are vegan, you do not eat anything made from or by animals, including marshmallows, gelatin, and honey.
The Benefits of Vegetarian Diet
Looking solely at the affects on health, vegetarian diets do seem to have some positive benefits. Because most vegetarians cut out or significantly reduce their intake of animal products, they usually consume less saturated fat and cholesterol than do non-vegetarians. Also, because of the slim offerings, most vegetarians do not eat fast food which is one of the worst types of unhealthy foods.
Other research has shown that people who are vegetarians seem to have a reduced risk of becoming obese, of having heart disease or high blood pressure, and of contracting Type II diabetes.
The Drawbacks of Vegetarian Diet
While there are benefits to your health, there can also be risks. Remember that to function properly your body needs certain type of vitamins and nutrients daily. Any time you restrict your diet in some way you make it harder for your body to get what it needs. With a vegetarian diet, for example, you may not be getting all of the protein you need. Plus, you need protein sources rich in amino acids and that’s something you can’t get from plant products. However, soy protein can be a good alternative.
Many vegetarians do not get enough B-12 either. That’s because this vitamin is only found naturally in animal products. Some foods, such as cereals, have been fortified with B-12 but you may need to take a supplement. Many vegans and vegetarians also suffer from low levels of calcium, Vitamin D, and iron.
If you are serious about becoming a vegetarian and want to avoid these risks, plan your diet carefully, consult your physician, and look for products fortified with the nutrients you need to be healthy.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Healthy Diets4 Dec 2008|