Have you ever thought of becoming a vegetarian? Well, you might want to think about it because there are a lot of health benefits you can gain from eliminating meat from your diet.
People become vegetarians for a lot of reasons – some are born vegetarians because that’s the lifestyle their parents chose to follow while others are vegetarians by choice. Whatever the reasons may be, excluding meat can cause certain good changes to your body.
Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating Meat
1. To Reduce The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
According to the findings of the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014, 29 million people in the United States have diabetes.1 From these findings, it can be concluded that diabetes has become a growing concern for the American population and people worldwide.
Studies have shown that consuming meat can put one at a risk of developing type 2 diabetes.2 Meat consumption was defined as consuming red meat or poultry at least once weekly. The results of the study revealed that there was 40% higher prevalence of diabetes among meat-consuming women and 80% higher prevalence of diabetes among meat-consuming men when compared with vegetarians.
Therefore, switching to a vegetarian diet can help reduce the factors that may lead to the chances of developing type 2 diabetes including weight and cholesterol.
2. To Promote A Healthy Gut
The human gut is home to a wide range of microorganisms. These also include good bacteria that help in the normal functioning of the body including metabolism, nutrient absorption, and protection from external pathogens.3
Reports show that a diet rich in meat can alter the balance of good bacteria found in the human gut. There are studies that also link red meat with an increased risk of developing diverticulitis.4 This health condition causes the tiny pouches in the large intestine to be inflamed. This, in turn, causes cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and even rectal bleeding.
The results showed that men who ate the most red meat per week (about 13 servings) were 58% more likely to develop diverticulitis compared with men who ate the least red meat per week (1.2 servings). These findings don’t suggest that red meat causes the disease; it may just be considered a factor causing it. Therefore, cutting down meat consumption can promote a healthy gut.
3. To Lower Bad Cholesterol
Red meat has more cholesterol and saturated fats than poultry and vegetable proteins. This can cause your bad cholesterol levels in the blood to rise. An increase in the cholesterol levels is not good for cardiovascular health.
There are studies that show how plant-based diets can lower plasma cholesterol concentrations.5 This study also showed that the people following vegetarian and vegan diets are at a lower risk for ischemic heart disease mortality.
Therefore, cutting down meat from your diet can reduce cholesterol levels and in turn keep the heart healthy.
4. To Reduce Inflammation
Cutting down on meat or eliminating it completely can help reduce inflammation within the body. This is because meat, red meat in particular, has been associated with a greater risk of metabolic syndrome and inflammation.6
Inflammation can cause serious health conditions including heart attacks, strokes, and arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis. There are studies that show how vegetarian or vegan diets may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.7
5. To Switch To Healthier Proteins
Meat is a good source of protein, however, it is also a source of cholesterol and saturated fats. Eliminating meat can reduce the harm these may cause to the body.
Most vegetarians, because of the lack of meat, don’t get enough protein. However, there are plant-based proteins that can substitute this loss. In fact, it is the type of protein that can do more good than harm. Sources of plant-based proteins include lentils, beans, peas, kale, spinach, and others. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.8
6. To Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
The results of recent studies demonstrate a link between a high intake of meat, especially red meat and processed meat, with an increased risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.9
Barbecues and charred meat have been associated with a high risk of cancer because substances called heterocyclic amines are formed when foods are cooked at high temperatures. These substances have been found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing).10
Therefore, switching to vegetables and avoiding meat may help in reducing the risk of cancers.
Apart from these, animal agriculture has become one of the leading causes of environmental problems like climate change. It is also one of the main contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, for these reasons and more, it is important to cut down on meat consumption or, even better, eliminate meat completely from the diet.
|↑1||Diabetes Latest. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Barnard, Neal, Susan Levin, and Caroline Trapp. “Meat consumption as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.” Nutrients 6, no. 2 (2014): 897-910.|
|↑3||Guarner, Francisco, and Juan-R. Malagelada. “Gut flora in health and disease.” The Lancet 361, no. 9356 (2003): 512-519.|
|↑4||Harvard researchers link diverticulitis to red meat. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑5||Ferdowsian, Hope R., and Neal D. Barnard. “Effects of plant-based diets on plasma lipids.” The American journal of cardiology 104, no. 7 (2009): 947-956.|
|↑6||Azadbakht, Leila, and Ahmad Esmaillzadeh. “Red meat intake is associated with metabolic syndrome and the plasma C-reactive protein concentration in women.” The Journal of nutrition 139, no. 2 (2009): 335-339.|
|↑7||Can Vegan or Vegetarian Diets Help Reduce Arthritis Inflammation? Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑8||How much protein do you need every day? Harvard Medical School.|
|↑9||Ferguson, Lynnette R. “Meat and cancer.” Meat science 84, no. 2 (2010): 308-313.|
|↑10||Meat and cancer. Cancer Council.|