The World Health Organization (WHO) took the meat-eating world by storm in 2015 when it released its findings on the carcinogenic effects of eating red and processed meats. After their thorough analysis of more than 800 high-quality studies examining the correlation between meat-based diets and cancer rates, WHO felt the need to publish their findings. The WHO explicitly advised the world to put down their stick of pepperoni. Meat eaters of the world should take note, red and processed meats are carcinogenic. There are no two ways about it.
A vegetarian diet is not a new concept, but it has taken on new meaning in 2017. Not only is the world struggling to feed billions of the poorest people, but environmental degradation is at an all-time high. Extreme hunger and ecological destruction are due in part to the increasing demand for meat worldwide. More and more of the world’s resources are focused on animal production. It might be time for all of us to consider some of the benefits of being a vegetarian.
What does it mean to be a Vegetarian?
Being a vegetarian means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. We all know someone who is vehemently opposed to consuming any animal products, right down to something as benign as honey. But the dietary restrictions of vegetarianism do not need to be as strict as some people make them out to be. Although the anti-animal mantra of veganism is extremely honorable, it’s not for everyone.
The freedom to incorporate vegetarianism into your own diet, in whatever format works best for you, is what is so liberating about the movement. Each of us is free to make our own dietary choices. By reducing our intake of animal products, we can start making a positive change to our health and well-being.
In case you needed a little inspiration about how to incorporate vegetarianism into your own diet here are a few common varieties.
Pescatarian: Diet includes fish and shellfish, but no other animals. Usually, but not always, pescatarians still consume animal products, such as eggs and dairy.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Diet includes both eggs and dairy products, but not animal flesh.
Ovo-vegetarians: Diet includes eggs, but no dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians do not eat any animal flesh.
Lacto-vegetarian: Still includes dairy products, but avoids all other animal products, including eggs. Does not eat any animal flesh.
Vegan: Avoids all animal products, including eggs, dairy, and even honey.
As you can see, vegetarianism is as restrictive as you want it to be. Many people started with a simple rule of “Meat-Free Mondays.” Still, others only eat meat when they are at restaurants or friends’ houses. Every time you choose not to eat an animal product, you are giving yourself a helpful, healthy boost.
Benefits of Being a Vegetarian
Being a vegetarian is better for you, inside and out. Countless studies on the subject have explored why exactly vegetarians are healthier than their meat-eating counterparts. Here are just a few reasons why a vegetarian diet is better for your health.
Prevention of Cancer
The Working Group within the WHO report, referenced in the introduction, classified consumption of processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans.” The Working Group also concluded that “consumption of red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Coming from an organization as respected as the WHO, there can be little doubt about the validity of their findings.
Smaller studies have come to similar conclusions. In fact, in a study based in the United Kingdom, researchers concluded the cancer rate was much lower in vegetarians compared to the national average. The results proved true even after the study was adjusted for age, sex, and smoking rates.
Prevention of Disease
High cholesterol leads to a host of serious diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. One of the easiest ways to reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels is reducing the consumption of animal fats.
What does this mean? It means reducing the amount of meat and dairy in your diet. Also, it’s recommended to reduce the number of processed foods consumed, which means pepperoni sticks, jerky, and other favorite meat products. One of the automatic benefits of becoming a vegetarian is you instantly start reducing your cholesterol intake, and therefore your risk of certain diseases.
Looking for other ways to prevent disease? Adding a daily dose of CBD oil to your diet also can boost your body’s ability to prevent disease. Learn more about CBD oil here.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Vegetarians also maintain a healthier body weight compared to their meat-eating friends. Across a range of 38,000 participants, ranging from 20 to 97 years of age, researchers at the University of Oxford found evidence that vegetarians, pescatarians, and especially vegans had significantly lower Body Mass Index (BMI) rates when compared to meat eaters. Scientists linked high protein and low fiber diets to an increased BMI.
The benefits of being a vegetarian are far too many to be listed in one short article. But unlike other diet trends, the scientific proof behind vegetarianism’s benefits is well-established. Vegetarians are less likely to encounter certain diseases in their life. They are less at risk of most cancers. They also have a lower body mass index than their meat-eating cousins.
Becoming vegetarian can mean many different things; it can be as restrictive as you wish to make it. But one thing is clear, the less meat you eat, the better you will feel. On top of its many health benefits, vegetarianism helps save the environment, one burger at a time. Still skeptical? Start with a Meatless Monday and see where it takes you.