Vegetarianism versus eating meat
There are various eating lifestyles around the globe and eating healthier has come to dominate the minds of most people. This has been so because there is a direct relationship between our health and the food we consume. Vegetarianism has become almost a cultural norm in all over the world with people embracing it as a much healthier lifestyle. This worldwide adoption can be attributed to the influence impacted by celebrities, influential individuals and the health trends. Others tend to adopt a vegan diet due to animal welfare issues. But basically from numerous studies, it is evident that vegans have much healthier lifestyles than non-vegetarians. From my perspective being a vegan is advantageous since most nutrients to achieve a healthy diet are present and available, but everything has its pros and cons and however few they may be they have to be taken into consideration before undertaking the whole vegan experience. This paper will cover claims and counterclaims on whether a vegan diet is richer in nutrients, whether it helps one lose excess weight, its protection against certain cancers and whether or not it is linked to lower risk of heart disease.
Many people have been going vegan nowadays are growing tremendously. They also have groups such as the Lacto-Ovo vegetarian who consumes milk and eggs only and not the other animal products whereas there is the vegan who does not consume any animal product (White & Frank, 2014). Claims that ‘greens’ are very healthy and as the primary energy source in the food chain compared to meat which contains saturated fat which is usually bad for one’s health. Vegetarian diets are richer in nutritional fiber, are also richer in elements such as potassium, folic acid and magnesium which are important in most physiological functions in the body (Clarys et al., 2014).
These diets have antioxidants; vitamin E and C which provide protective characteristics and cannot be found in meats (Clarys et al., 2014). They also act as a reliable source of calcium which can be gotten from dark leafy vegetables. They are also rich in vitamins such as vitamin K and essential amino acids. Vegan diets naturally have a low-calorific value and contain a much higher concentration of minerals, vitamins and micronutrients than animal based foods. The fiber in the plant foods slows down digestion making one feel full and goes for a long time without feeling hungry helping one control their food intake hence reducing weight (Glick-Bauer & Yeh, 2014). Vegan diets especially fruits contribute to keeping one’s blood-sugar stable reducing cravings which lead to junk food consumption and weight gain (Gerasimova & Kazantseva, 2015).
Cancer is mostly associated with the eating lifestyle that one adopts from inception. It is believed that most animal products are usually injected with hormones, steroids and other drugs which lead to the development of cancer to the consumers (Huang et al., 2012). The vegetarian diet help alleviates these problems since they contain fewer chemicals which contribute to cancer. Also, the absence of saturated fats from plant-based foods is free of preservatives since most are on a farm to fork basis while fresh. Consumption of plant-based foods there is the reduced risk of obesity and heart diseases which are usually related to high cholesterol levels which are absent in vegan diets (Gerasimova & Kazantseva, 2015). Most medical professionals and researchers argue that high levels of fat especially saturated fat are one of the main reasons for heart diseases (Huang et al., 2012). For this reason, vegan diets have lower fat levels which are usually unsaturated fat as present in the avocado.
Beginners on a vegan diet might not be aware that the diet can predispose them to certain health risks. They may be drawn to consuming more carbs and starch-rich vegetables to feel full; this can be due to if their diet does not have adequate good sources of proteins. This will lead to cholesterol build-up and weight gain and if continued for long can lead to heart diseases exposure. Excessive intake of carbs and starch will result in problems in the blood sugar level which eventually triggers cravings for junk food. Vegan diets are also termed as disadvantageous since they tend to lack some essential nutrients necessary to make a balanced diet. Some of the nutrients can only be found in meat or obtained from animal proteins, and there is the risk of being malnourished. Some meat supplements can lead to bloat or have lower nutritive content than meat.
This is evidence of a vegan diet can pose health risks is backed up by scientific facts in that there are health differences in consumption of plant-based foods (White & Frank, 2014). Consumers of foods high in fruit, whole grains, vegetables and healthy (unsaturated) fats are less likely to acquire heart-related diseases and cancer whereas diets including foods such as potatoes, refined grains and cereals do pose a health risk similar to that posed by consumption of animal protein based diets (Orlich et al., 2015). But vegan diets are also affected by external factors in predisposing one to health risks such as stress which can accelerate the risks.
Vegetarians should be advised on a proper diet regime which should be balanced especially for the beginners. Appropriate food selection is also important to avoid deficiencies which may lead to adverse health problems, but in conclusion, a vegan diet can help to protect an individual’s health by losing extra weight and also by lowering risk of diseases such as cancer and heart attacks which are often associated with intake of meat. But basically, vegans have a much healthier lifestyle compared to their non-vegetarian counterparts.
Clarys, P., Deliens, T., Huybrechts, I., Deriemaeker, P., Vanaelst, B., De Keyzer, W., … Mullie, P. (2014). Comparison of Nutritional Quality of the Vegan, Vegetarian, Semi-Vegetarian, Pesco-Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diet. Nutrients, 6(3), 1318-1332. doi:10.3390/nu6031318
Gerasimova, E. L., & Kazantseva, K. A. (2015). THE BENEFITS OF VEGETARIANISM. (pp. 5-6).
Glick-Bauer, M., & Yeh, M. (2014). The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients, 6(11), 4822-4838. doi:10.3390/nu6114822
Huang, T., Yang, B., Zheng, J., Li, G., Wahlqvist, M. L., & Li, D. (2012). Cardiovascular Disease Mortality and Cancer Incidence in Vegetarians: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 60(4), 233-240. doi:10.1159/000337301
Orlich, M. J., Singh, P. N., Sabaté, J., Fan, J., Sveen, L., Bennett, H., … Fraser, G. E. (2015). Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Colorectal Cancers. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(5), 767. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.59
White, R., & Frank, E. (2014). Health effects and prevalence of vegetarianism. Western Journal of Medicine, 160(5), 465.