A vegetarian diet is becoming increasingly popular within mainstream society as people are cutting out animal products for environmental, ethical and health reasons.
According to the home doctor experts at House Call Doctor, there are a lot of factors to consider before deciding whether a vegetarian diet is really better for you.
What is a vegetarian diet?
There are two basic kinds of vegetarian diet: lacto-ovo and strict (vegan).
Most vegetarians fall into the lacto-ovo category. This means they eat non-animal products (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts etc.) and eat animal by-products, such as yoghurt and eggs.
A strict, vegan diet excludes all forms of animal exploitation whether for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Pros of a vegetarian diet
1. Better weight control
People who follow a vegetarian diet are less likely to become obese than individuals who do not follow such patterns.
As vegetarian diets eliminate high-calorie foods such as fatty meats, butter and full-fat cheeses, it can result in a diet that is lower in calories.
2. Potential health benefits
A varied vegetarian diet contains less saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, and more important nutrients like potassium and fibre.
This can result in health benefits like a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
3. It is more cost efficient
A recent study found eating a vegetarian diet is much cheaper in comparison to a plant and meat diet.
The vegetarian diet provided more fruits, vegetables and whole grains but remained significantly cheaper.
Cons of a vegetarian diet
1. Lack of iron
Most plant-based food does not provide adequate levels of all the essential amino acids in a single serving.
While there are many good sources of iron for vegetarians, it is significantly lower when compared to non-vegetarian sources of iron.
2. It’s not always healthier
Vegetarianism as a healthy lifestyle largely depends on the meal choices you make.
A vegetarian diet can still be detrimental to your health if you rely on sugar, processed food and refined foods.
3. Higher risk of developing deficiencies
There are many nutrients that play a vital role in the human body. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients may result in deficiencies.
Common deficiencies stemming from a vegetarian diet are:
- · Iron deficiency
- · Vitamin B12 deficiency and
- · Zinc deficiency.