I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian lately. There have been a lot of fantastic documentaries about food/water in America and what is good/not good for our bodies. It’s been really eye-opening. I have also been doing my own research about certain foods and drinks… and what I’ve been learning is that meat really isn’t that great for you, and neither is milk.
But I LOVE turkey, and chicken and an occasional filet mignon just hits the spot…It’s hard to part with those things. Although I have been eating more tofu and beans for protein instead of meat- and it’s working out quite nicely. In terms of dairy- my body has been telling me for a year or so now that I’m getting lactose intolerant. Milk, I can live without, when you think about it we are the only animal that drinks the milk of another animal specifically made for their young (thank you vanilla almond milk for coming into my life)- Yogurt..it’s a bummer because I enjoy eating it with fruit and granola- Cheese I can’t live without, so even if my tummy hurts after eating it, I’ll still be chowing down on some delicious brie.
SOOO when I found this interesting article on the side effects of being a vegetarian- I thought it was perfect timing to inform myself as well as my readers.
1. Lower Levels of Vitamin B12
It’s true, studies have shown that omnivores have a higher risk of cardiovascular issues compared to vegetarians. But being a vegetarian has its risks since the presence of vitamin B12 in the blood is much lower than omnivores. I learned that B12 was a great vitamin to take right before you go to bed after a heavy night of drinking- you’ll (hopefully) wake up much less hungover..which is the main reason I have a bottle in my bathroom cabinet right now.
B12 also helps with your metabolism, converting food into energy, utilizing iron, and thus producing healthy little red blood cells. If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian (ohhh new term!- meaning you still eat dairy and eggs), you tend to consume adequate amounts of B12 in your diet. If you are a full-on vegetarian, yeast extracts are a good choice to get vitamin B12 into your body.
2. Lower Bone Mineral Density
One study concluded that vegetarians had approximately 5% lower bone-mineral density and non-veggies. Although, it is possible for vegetarians to consume enough protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin D to ensure proper bone and muscle development and health.
People with vegan diets seem to have it worse off though- according to the study. Do not fear vegetarians (or if you are considering becoming one), the author of the study suggests that the “magnitude of the associations is clinically insignificant.”
3. Lower Cholesterol Levels
Well cats out of the bag- virtually every study conducted on vegetarians concluded that vegetarians have lower cholesterol than other non-vegetarians. One of those studies being the Oxford Vegetarian Study of 5,000 vegetarian subjects.
4. Increased Rick of Colorectal (aka Bowel) Cancer
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition came out with some intriguing findings…” Within the study, the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat eaters, but the incidence of colorectal cancer was higher in vegetarians than in meat eaters.” 39% higher to be in fact! The researchers are not fully able to explain these findings, and they theorize that the vegetarian participants were perhaps not eating sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables.
5. Insufficient Levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A paper published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that vegetarians have lower levels long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. Sufficient levels of long-chain omega-3s are beneficial for cardiovascular health, and researchers concluded that DHA supplementation at a dose of about 2 grams per day eventually decreased plasma cholesterol.
One senior instructor of nutrition at the University of Idaho, said, “Nuts and flaxseed can supply enough sources of essential fatty acids. I haven’t seen evidence that vegetarians are lacking in essential fatty acids. They seem to be adequate.”
What are you? Vegetarian? Omnivore? Vegan? Flexitarian? Lacto-ovo Vegetarian??? I want to hear your stories and thoughts 🙂
SOOOOO on an ending note, based on the conclusions of numerous medical studies, eating a vegetarian diet offers numerous health benefits. However, the same advice can be offered for vegetarians as for omnivores: exercise regularly, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit every day and avoid processed foods. I have been decreasing the amount of processed foods I’ve been eating and it feels really GREAT! I make my own meals, out of fresh delicious ingredients. It’s GLORIOUS 😀
If you’re concerned at all about side effects of becoming vegetarian, researchers suggest that you become a “flexitarian.” Which is something I find more attractive (and likely) in terms of my dieting.
“Flexitarians are people who are vegetarian most of the time, but once in a while will consume an animal protein. The more restrictive you are with your diet, the more you’ll have to closely monitor what you’re consuming and the more likely your need will be to supplement.”
Let the food-restriction challenging begin!