When people start talking about how they eat, there are a lot of opinions—both pro and con—about vegetarian food. Concerns include the quality of life, feeling healthy, getting proper nutrition, social issues and personal philosophy about eating meat.
Then there’s the question about whether or not a vegetarian diet is truly healthy. What are humans really “programmed” to eat? Can you stay slim or lose weight on a vegetarian diet? Or can you get enough calories to maintain a healthy weight if you eat no meat?
There’s no question that good nutrition increases your chance of having a long and healthy life, and keeps you healthy longer. Until you’ve done some research to look at all the issues involved in becoming a vegetarian, you can’t expect to make the best decision for yourself. Here are some of the things you need to consider:
Most body builders eat a lot of meat and even take supplements to increase their protein levels. On the other hand, medical science has shown that fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are more easily utilized by the body than the foods in a high protein diet. This may be one reason more and more people are becoming vegetarians. Many processed high protein foods may contain harmful additives and byproducts. Only 60% of meat products are digested by the body. Many cuts of meat are high in cholesterol and may increase the chance for artery blockage, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks.
On the other hand, many vegetables may contain pesticides or other chemical residues from chemicals that farmers used during the growing process.
Get Enough Fiber
Fiber is essential to a healthy digestive system. When you start researching a healthy diet, one of the first things you find out is that you need a lot of fiber.
Meat doesn’t provide any fiber, but fruits, grains and vegetables do. A diet high in fiber may reduce the possibility of developing intestinal cancers, diabetes, hiatus hernia, coronary heart disease, diverticulitis, dental caries, hemorrhoids, obesity and gallstones. Cereals and legumes, grains, fruits of all kinds, carrots, celery and other vegetables are rich in fiber; whether you’re a vegetarian or not it’s important to include these in your diet.
There also are advantages of a more traditional, non-vegetarian diet: meats are high in protein and Vitamin B12, which you can’t get from a vegetarian diet. You can get Omega 3 and calcium from fish.
When you start shopping you’ll find a price difference as well. Fruits, vegetables and grains aren’t just more easily chewed and digested; they’re generally less expensive than most meats.
Compare and Contrast:
Although there are some advantages to a traditional “meat and potatoes” diet, nutritionists have shown that you can get the right balance of amino acids, vitamins and minerals from a vegetarian diet if you plan your meals properly. Vegetarian foods have both advantages and disadvantages:
- They provide good nutrition, without some of the disadvantages of meat
- Vegetables have fiber that you need for a healthy digestive system. A vegetarian diet can help you avoid a number of diseases
- When it’s time to pay the bill, most vegetarian foods cost less than a traditional high-protein meal
- Traditional foods such as meat are more widely available due to the shorter lifespan of many vegetarian products.