If you’ve been a meat eater your entire life, you probably find it difficult to imagine becoming a vegan or vegetarian. However, there are various reasons you should consider eliminating meat from your diet. People who don’t eat meat generally consume lesser calories and less fat, weigh less, feel more energetic, and are at a lower risk of developing heart diseases when compared to vegetarians..
A plant-based diet focuses on grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, non-dairy milk, and other foods that come from plant-based sources instead of animals. This diet is rich in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients, and is shown to have various benefits for humans. In fact, just reducing the amount of meat you consume can have significant positive effects on your body.
What Happens When You Stop Eating Meat?
According to various researches, people who consume red meat on a regular basis are at a higher risk of death due to heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Similarly, the risk of these is increased due to the consumption of processed meat as well.
On the other hand, a lack of essential food components in your diet can also have adverse effects on your health. Hence, a diet low in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds can increase your risk of death.
Once you reduce or eliminate meat from your diet, you will automatically consume more vegetables and other plant-based foods. As a result, you’ll soon start noticing the following benefits.
Reduced Blood Cholesterol Levels
Two of the leading causes of death in the US are heart disease and strokes. Both of these conditions are usually a result of elevated blood cholesterol. Most animal products, including meat, poultry, and cheese, are high in saturated fats. If consumed in high amounts, this type of fat can spike your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
According to various studies, the blood cholesterol level can reduce up to 35% when a person switches to a plant-based diet. In fact, often, the decrease is similar to that seen with drug therapy. Yet, it doesn’t come with all the side effects of taking drugs and is a significantly healthier way of reducing your cholesterol levels. Whole-food, plant-based diets tend to be very low in saturated fat and contain zero cholesterol. They are also high in fiber, which further enhances their ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Regular consumption of meat, cheese, and processed foods can elevate the levels of inflammation in your body. Although sometimes inflammation is necessary; such as after an injury as it aids in proper healing. However, it becomes an issue when inflammation lasts for months or years. Chronic inflammation can cause the development of atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, autoimmune diseases, etc.
Since plant-based diets are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients, they naturally tend to be anti-inflammatory. Additionally, they contain much lower inflammatory triggers like saturated fat and endotoxins, which are toxins released from bacteria found in animal-based foods. The C-reactive protein (CPD) is the main indicator of inflammation in the body, and studies have shown that people who switch to a plant-based date see a significant reduction in their levels of CPR.
Reduced Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
There have been a lot of studies that have shown that animal protein, especially red and processed meat, can significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In the population of Adventists, omnivores have twice the rate of diabetes as compared to vegans. This is after accounting for the differences in body weight. Just eating meat once a week or more over a 17-years period increased the risk of diabetes by a whopping 74%. Another study showed that just half a serving of red meat per day increased the risk of diabetes by 48% over a 4-year period. This is because animal fat, animal-based iron and nitrate preservatives have been shown impair the way our insulin functions. These can also cause weight gain, worse inflammation and damage pancreatic cells; all of which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
By leaving animal products behind, you will drastically reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. In fact, a plant-based diet can improve or reverse your diabetes, even if you’ve already been diagnosed. For this purpose, consuming a healthy amount of whole grains can be very beneficial, as they are protective against type 2 diabetes.
Makeover for The Microbiome
There are trillions of microorganisms that are living in our body, and are known to be crucial to our health. Collectively called the microbiome, the microorganisms help us digest our food, train our immune systems, keep our gut tissues healthy, produce critical nutrients, control the functions of our genes, and can also help protect us from cancer. Some studies also show that they play a role in diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease and atherosclerosis. How the microbiome affects our health is dependent on what it is being fed.
Diets high in dairy, eggs and meat usually lack fiber, which can foster the growth of disease-promoting bacteria. On the other hand, foods that come from plants help shape the intestinal microbiome in a healthy manner. Since these are high in fiber, they promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the guts. The gut bacterial patterns only take a few days to change. Hence, if you switch to a plant-based diet, your gut health will see significant benefits within weeks.
Aside from being beneficial for your health, switching to a plant-based diet can also be favorable for the environment. Animal agricultural is very harmful to our planet. It is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emission, deforestation, wildlife destruction and the extinction of various species. To produce a single pound of beef in the U.S., about 2,000 gallons of water are required.
Hence, by switching to a plant-based diet, you won’t just be benefiting yourself, but you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint on the planet.If giving up meat completely seems too difficult, start by cutting it out slowly, like eating pure vegan food one day per week. Then slowly increase your vegan days, until you no longer feel the need to consume any food that comes from animals.