Are you or have you tried being a vegetarian? Well, my friends and I did, and here’s what we learned after just one week of cutting meat from our diets and the most important benefits in our opinion!

Making the choice to eat less meat (or none at all) is a hard one for many people, and reasons for doing so often vary. I stopped eating red meat about seven years ago due to my families history of heart problems, but I never knew how heavily backed a full vegetarian diet is in the medical profession. So naturally, when someone suggested a vegetarian diet as the challenge for our podcast, I felt pretty well prepared.

Our podcast (listen here), is called Better Off Better, and it started with me and my two best friends entering into a verbal agreement that affected my life from then on. We do weekly challenges to test out things that people everywhere seem to think make them better people. Now, we know we aren’t great people, so why not try and fix that though very competitive challenges where we purposely pit ourselves against each other? Doesn’t that sound healthy?

Whether you want to improve your heart health, keep your weight down, or just try it out, vegetarianism is a great diet to try, and even cutting out some meat or just red meat like I do will show you major improvements! So, what are the biggest benefits from a vegetarian diet?

Overview / Health Benefits

I think we’ve all heard someone gush about going vegetarian at this point, but what are the real medical benefits? Well, to start us off, I’d like to point out that the federal government recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as an estimated “70 percent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer”.

Here’s some more in-depth reasons you should give this diet a try!

1: It Can Reduce Your Risk Of The #1 Killer – Heart Disease

Vegetarians involved in a 1993 to 2001 study, published in 2019 had a “22 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease than the meat eaters. Over a 10-year period, that drop in risk means there would be 10 fewer cases of coronary heart disease among vegetarians than among meat eaters for every 1,000 people”.

These findings are incredible, however you have to also take into account that the vegetarians showed a 20 percent higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke. At the same time, pescatarians, who eat fish but not meat, had the same risk of stroke but a 13 percent lower risk for heart disease compared with the meat eaters.

“A low cholesterol level is known to be protective against heart disease and ischemic stroke,” says Dr. Tong, “but some recent evidence suggests that low cholesterol may be linked to higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, the subtype of stroke found to be higher in the vegetarians.” For example, a study published in May 2019 in Neurology found that women who had LDL cholesterol levels — considered the “bad” type of cholesterol — that were 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or lower were twice as likely to have this type of stroke than women with levels that ranged from 100 to 130 mg/dL.”

2: It Can Help You Lose Weight (And Keep It Off!)

On average, vegetarians tend to have a lower percentage of body fat than those who eat meat. The Oxford Vegetarian Study found that BMI levels are lower in vegetarians of all age groups and genders. This may be due to the fact that a vegetarian diet tends to be high in fiber-rich and low-energy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy.

Vegan diets go even further by cutting out calorie-heavy foods like cheese. However, of course being vegetarian or vegan doesn’t automatically mean consuming fewer calories, you still need to plan meals and count calories if your goal is weight loss!

In fact, according to the CDC, over 65 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, but obesity among vegetarians and vegans is below 10 percent. On average, the body weights of both male and female vegetarians are three percent to 20 percent lower than meat eaters! Research has also found that switching to a healthy vegan diet leads to weight loss, even without changes to exercise or limits on portion size, calories, or carbohydrates. And, studies have found an “increase in calorie burn after vegan meals, meaning plant-based foods may be used more efficiently as fuel for the body, as opposed to being stored as fat”. Take that, omnivores!

3: Live Longer, Age Slower!

A 12-year Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters by six to nine years. Plant-based diets are often rich in “fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which in turn strengthens the immune system and slows down the aging process.” Plus it can prevent and reverse certain chronic diseases in humans, so even cutting down the meat in your diet is a great choice for your overall health and well being!

This year gap is similar to that of smokers and non-smokers, so think about that next time you say “I’d never smoke a cigarette, they kill you!” Cholesterol has a big part in these findings, in a video by Michael Greger, M.D. he states that consuming the amount of cholesterol found in just a single egg a day may cut a woman’s life short as much as smoking five cigarettes daily for 15 years, whereas eating a daily cup of oatmeal’s worth of fiber appears to extend a woman’s life as much as four hours of jogging a week. (And no, I’m not telling you to toss your running shoes.)

Over 20 years ago, Dr. Dean Ornish showed that heart disease could not just be stopped but actually reversed with a vegan diet, meaning that arteries opened up without drugs or surgery. After the millions of people that die from heart attacks, I’d think this research should be more well known by now!

4: Avoid Toxic Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 95 percent of the pesticide residue in the typical American diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium) that can’t be removed through cooking or freezing. Its really surprising to see the specifics of the terrible stuff that ends up in our meat products.

Meat and dairy products can also be laced with steroids and hormones unless otherwise specified. Make sure when buying produce, or any other food, that you check ingredients and stay away from overly processed and carcinogen filled products. (There’s a lot more than you’d think!)

Meat caught and processed way back when, although crudely done, was much more natural. It was filled with trace minerals and grass fed, and didn’t have any of the added chemicals, steroids and extra shit in meat these days. I’d suggest reading this article to see just how different the meat humans used to get is from the food we get now. Here

There’s so many benefits to this diet that I’d feel like I’m doing an injustice by not listing some incredible resources and other articles for you to explore! Below you’ll find sources I used as well as a bunch of incredible articles by great people who know much more about this subject than I do!

Check out my tips on trying a vegetarian diet long or short term here!

Check out our podcast Better Off Better and listen to us struggle to try a vegetarian diet

Check out the author of this post Jenny Whipple

Check out our Youtube channel for video podcasts and other comedy stuff

Sources and further reading

1:

https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2019/09/vegetarianism-linked-to-lower-risk-of-heart-disease-but-slightly-higher-risk-of-stroke/#:~:text=The%20vegetarians%20in%20the%20study,eaters%20for%20every%201%2C000%20people.

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/why-vegan-vegetarian-diet-may-lower-heart-disease-raise-stroke-risk/

2:

https://www.shape.com/weight-loss/will-going-vegetarian-help-you-lose-weight

3:

Incredible article- really.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/plant-based-diet_b_1981838?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACpzhw_R7Q2BgGpixXCndgFgN23W2m9R7YohcQI1V1a0xNQoRv0_lPnVGgOWpTUyC3_rmlyg0DMqyfvJuCVDm-VyJ_2HtbTGK6DXU6G3PrhZM0mmwkowFkTpoY6xQJBHz-EEKc8AlzSasstaErMPj-9iEskhL9kwwwgQ0NT5nT1c