Being a Vegetarian has its Side Effects..

Veggie Meal!

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

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!

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your research! I was a pescetarian (I still ate fish) for about two years, but then I got too lazy to keep it up. I’ve been thinking about trying for it again, though, since my alternative has largely been foods that can be delivered to me.

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t eat fish…they mean too much to me being a marine scientist and all, plus I know way too much about fishing practices and the decreased amount of species due to overfishing. I couldn’t be a pescetarian :/ But I think you should try it again! Why not? Be sure to do your research where the fish you are eating come from though…a lot of fish in the supermarket is mislabeled.

  2. I have been a vegetarian for over 8 years. I take vitamins daily to supplement those missing in my diet. When I eat, I feel fulfilled by my food; being a vegetarian for me has been such a positive experience. The practice of being a vegetarian forces thoughtfulness of what you eat which is so important.
    I hear that blood type plays a role in whether or not you should or could be vegetarian. I am A positive, and believe that my blood type makes it much easier to go without meat – which I have never been so crazy about. I wonder what you have heard about this theory?

  3. I gave up on meat at a certain point in my life (I was still eating fish once a week or so). The reason I gave up was simply because I hate the smell of chicken and the taste of red meat, especially beef. Not eating meat had very bad effects on me. I was eating mainly pasta, sometimes rice, cheese, veggetables, fruits and constantly felt the need to eat sweets. I gained weight and lost muscle. Finally I got back to eating meat, now I eat meat 2 times a day, all kind of meet, especially lean meat (2-3 times a week it’s fish and 2-3 times a week it’s chicken). For the rest, I eat less cheese and more fat free yogurt, rarely rice and sometimes pasta or pizza. Of course, fruit and veggies or salad every day. I still eat sweets every day, but in small quantities. I lost all the extra weight, I gained 3kg of muscles in the last year (I train with weight) and overall I look and feel great. Sorry, but I’m not giving up on meat again. Humans simply need meat. Don’t get me wrong, once a week I do eat seitan and sometimes soy…

    1. Everyone’s body is different. I will agree to disagree with you – I’ve lost weight and gained muscle without eating meat for the past 7 months. The fact is in this day in age, humans don’t need meat to live a healthy life. I can only assume that the foods you were eating and the portions, were incorrect during the time you were off meat to give you those results. To each their own – as long as you are healthy and happy then keep doing what you’re doing.

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