I don’t know about you, but I have been tempted to go veggie for a while now. With the release of so many new vegetarian and vegan cookbooks with deliciously tasty recipes and new research constantly being carried out on the positive effects of a meat-free diet, it almost seems like we have no reason not to go vegetarian anymore. But there are still so many people on the fence, including myself, which is understandable as is it a huge commitment and is essentially a massive lifestyle change. So, if you have wanted to go veggie for a while, here I have compiled a list of amazing benefits of being vegetarian that might just give you that extra push and inspire you to make the switch.
1. Be Happier
One of the amazing benefits of being vegetarian is that, according to research carried out in Australia, it can actually make you happier! You heard right! It has been scientifically proven that the level of depression is lower in vegetarians, which may have something to do with the fact that a veggie diet is free of processed meats which means that you will be eating more raw and nutrient-filled ingredients, which can help purify minds and encourage positive thoughts. It is also thought that a meat-free diet can encourage a more positive mentality because it has lower levels of arachidonic acids which are naturally found in animal products and are often linked to mood-disturbing brain changes. If you need any more convincing, Croatia’s Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health has found out that vegetarians have lower levels of neuroticism than meat eaters. So, if you were looking for a final push to eventually switch to the veggie life, what better reason to than your own happiness?!
2. Lean Figure
A meat-free diet is a lot less calorific that a non-veggie diet because vegetarians have a fiber-rich and low energy diet consisting mainly of fruit, veg and legumes. This means that vegetarians have a lower body mass index which has been proven by a study where vegans had the lowest percentage of people who were obese (9.4%), while meat-eaters had the highest percentage of people who were obese (33.3%). So, one of the other great benefits of being vegetarian is that you will develop a much leaner body which will encourage a healthy body composition and help lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
3. Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
It is a well-known fact that heart disease is the number 1 killer in the UK and accounts for the deaths of 65,000 people in the UK every year, so if anything can be done to prevent its onset, it is definitely worth considering. According to research carried out by the University of Oxford, a vegetarian diet can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease by a third. The primary reason that vegetarians experience a lower risk of developing heart disease is because their meat-free diet means that they will have lower levels of cholesterol, saturated fats and lower blood pressure in comparison to a meat-eater of the same age and gender.
4. Lower Risk Of Developing Cancer
Eating a diet full of fruit and veg is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers such as mouth and throat cancer, stomach cancer and bowel cancer. Also, the consumption of red meat and processed meat is often associated with an increase of risk in colorectal cancer so this is definitely something to bear in mind. However, while eating more fruit and veg and less processed meat will mean that you are ingesting more antioxidants and fiber and reduce the risk of obesity, all factors which can help to reduce the risk of cancer, there isn’t definitive evidence that avoiding all meat reduces your overall cancer risk.
5. Lower Cholesterol
A meat-free diet is low in saturated fats, meaning that vegetarians will have a lower cholesterol level than meat-eaters. So, if you suffer from high cholesterol-related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease or high blood pressure, it may be beneficial for you to try switching to a veggie diet. Or, of course, if you wish to prevent any of these illnesses a vegetarian diet may just be the way forward.
6. Help Reduce Global Warming
One of the often overlooked but amazing benefits of being vegetarian is that it can help to prevent global warming. This is because livestock farming generates more greenhouse gases than all the vehicles in the world combined, mostly from the carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane gases generated by the animals’ digestive systems. Methane released directly by the animals in the livestock industry is actually the single biggest human-related source of the greenhouse gases as emissions from livestock account for 14.5% of all human-caused greenhouse gases, which is a truly shocking statistic. According to an article by The Guardian, switching to a vegetarian diet can help to cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost two thirds. If saving our planet isn’t a good enough reason to make the switch to the veggie life, then I don’t know what is. After all, there is no planet B.