People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. Some people follow a largely vegetarian diet because they can’t afford to eat meat. Becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce, more vegetarian dining options, and the growing culinary influence of cultures with largely plant-based diets. Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Unless you follow recommended guidelines on nutrition, fat consumption, and weight control, becoming a vegetarian won’t necessarily be good for you. A diet of soda, cheese pizza, and candy, after all, is technically “vegetarian. It’s also vital to replace saturated and trans fats with good fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. And always keep in mind that if you eat too many calories, even from nutritious, low-fat, plant-based foods, you’ll gain weight.
You can eat healthfully without spending a lot. One way to achieve healthy savings is to serve meat less often. It can be challenging to serve healthy meals when you’re trying to save money. Consider serving budget-friendly meatless meals once or twice a week. Meatless meals are built around beans, lentils, vegetables and whole grains. These plant-based proteins tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat. A plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. And people who don’t eat meat — vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.
People go plant-based for lots of reasons. These include losing weight, feeling more energetic, reducing the risk of heart disease, decreasing the number of pills they take … there are dozens of great reasons! For even more inspiration, check out these other benefits you can expect when you go plant-based. If you are eating meat, cheese, and highly processed foods, chances are you have elevated levels of inflammation in your body. While short-term inflammation such as after an injury is normal and necessary, inflammation that lasts for months or years is not. Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, among other conditions. In contrast, plant-based diets are naturally anti-inflammatory, because they are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients, and much lower in inflammatory triggers like saturated fat and endotoxins toxins released from bacteria commonly found in animal foods. Studies have shown that people who adopt plant-based diets can dramatically lower their level of C-reactive protein CRP, an indicator of inflammation in the body. Elevated blood cholesterol is a key risk factor for heart disease and strokes, two of the leading killers in the United States. Saturated fat—primarily found in meat, poultry, cheese, and other animal products—is a major driver of our blood cholesterol levels.
Study subjects who avoided meat and poultry products tended to have lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides, as well as smaller waists, than those who regularly consumed those foods. To see improvements in health, it is essential to plan well, include a variety of ingredients, and make the diet part of an overall healthful lifestyle. By Mayo Clinic Staff. Lewis Hamilton, for example, has gone vegan while boxer David Haye has embraced the diet recently as well.