There is a lot of recent talk in the media about the benefits of eating vegetarian food. This probably doesn't come as a huge shocker, since I don’t think anyone in their right mind will ever tell you plants in their natural form are bad for you. Recent research from medical universities stating the benefits of eating vegetarian food go beyond weight loss though. With national disease at an all-time high, there are reasons beyond your waistline to eat vegetarian foods, some of which you may not even know about or have thought about. Vegetarian food isn't a trend, but rather a smart protocol. Plant-based diets are about more than just our weight. Read these top 10 benefits of eating vegetarian food and incorporate more whole, plant-based foods into your menu however you can.
1. You’ll save Yourself from a Heart Attack
Heart disease is the number one killer for women above cancer and all else, which makes eating for your heart one of the best benefits of eating vegetarian food. The concept of heart disease is not one to take light-heartedly, no pun intended! Red meats and fried or fatty animal meats are directly linked to heart disease and colon cancer, while vegetarian foods have absolutely NO cholesterol, making them perfect for you. Not even high fat vegetarian foods such as nuts, seeds and oils have any cholesterol. No matter how you incorporate these healthier fats into your diet, they are a perfect cholesterol-free way to reap the benefits of eating vegetarian foods.
2. It Saves Water
Did you know that by eating one serving of meat it takes 133 gallons of water to produce that meat from start to finish?! This compares to a rough 2-5 gallons per serving of most plant foods. Maybe you aren't concerned with this, but by being aware of others who have no water or lack of water, you can really pay more attention to how your foods affect the lives of others. During a time when our water levels are lower as a world than ever, now is the time to make changes however we can. Humanity is about changing parts of our lives to help the lives of others. The increase in water also increases the amount water companies charge you, so you’re not only affecting others by consuming more meat, but also raising the increase of demand.
3. It Saves Money-in All Areas
Not only does choosing plants over meat at the grocery store save you money, but it also keeps your medical risks down. Did you know the total direct medical costs in the U.S. that were directly linked to meat consumption were estimated to be $30-$60 billion dollars a year! So yes, that cheap, conventional meat may seem like the better buy, but you’re wasting money on nothing but hormone-laced meat that has been mistreated, processed with chemicals, dyes and pesticides, and then eating it. Now you've set yourself up for risks for high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. If you choose to eat meat- don’t skimp to save. Choose quality based meats and try to have 1-4 days of meatless meals per week if you can. You’ll not only save money, but save medical risks too.
4. You’ll Age Better
Yes, plants are beauty foods! The variety of berries, vegetables and high-antioxidant plant foods such as flaxseeds, coconut oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocados, spinach, kale, berries and chickpeas are slam-packed with anti-aging nutrients naturally. You don’t even have to buy into those fancy creams or beauty products when you eat a vegetarian diet. Your cosmetic costs will go down and so will the wrinkles on your face. Let's be honest here. While eating plants isn't just about your appearance, it also doesn't hurt to consider that vegetarian foods are nature’s beauty foods either.
5. Plant Foods Reduce Inflammation
In areas of your health, inflammation is at the root of any disease. Heart issues, joint pain, stomach issues, cancer, heart disease, poor digestion, bad assimilation of nutrients and low energy levels are all symptoms of inflammation in the body. When your body is inflamed from a highly acidic diet, things stop working like they are supposed to. Not only do plant foods NOT contribute to inflammation (with the exception of gluten from wheat, barley and rye), but they also help to eliminate inflammation in the body. Plants are both a prevention and a cure for this special reason. Processed junk vegetarian food is not a free food though, so don’t go loading up on vegetarian chips, crackers and cookies and think that’s healthy. I’m talking real plant foods such as berries, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, beans and legumes and gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, along with healthy fats from high cacao chocolate, oils like olive, flax and coconut oil, and of course, plenty of water. These foods will drastically change the way you feel, think and how much better your health will be by reducing inflammation.
6. They Eliminate the Need to Calorie Count
The best freedom I've found from eating a vegetarian diet is that I no longer restrict or diet, which means I don’t overeat later. Plant foods are almost guilt-free in their naked form. Your body needs them to thrive. You are naturally full and satisfied with plant foods because they contain nutrients and fiber, which your cells use immediately to tell your brain it is nourished and doesn't need to eat more. During a low-carb phase in my life, I ate chicken, eggs, turkey and fish daily. Ironically, I was still restricting at meals and though I lost weight, I always felt deprived. With plant foods and the occasional egg or piece of fish, I never feel the need to control my portions or count anything. That’s a freedom I would wish upon anyone!
7. They Are Delicious and Creative
You don’t have to just eat salads, apples and wheatgrass on a vegetarian diet! With the vast amounts of flavors from plants and ways to prepare them, there are endless creations you can make with plant foods. Try a new recipe each week or better yet daily, and you’ll find how fun it is to start learning new meal variations you can make besides a meat and veggies combo.
8. No More Bad Breath or Body Odor
Yes, plants can even help you from stinking, with the exception of garlic and onions, of course! Meat and dairy consumption has been directly linked to a higher amount of acidity in the body and the amount of stinky breath and body odor. As someone who eats tons of plant foods, I can tell you I personally haven’t worn deodorant in almost 8 years and I do not suffer from body odor, even while sweating. On a normal basis, I don’t have bad breath, unless I eat garlic, which I avoid because it really makes me smell terrible! It’s all about that acidity factor in meats and dairy. They are the most acid foods available to us, and when we eat them, our bodies literally process their acids directly as waste, which our bodies try to eliminate through sweating, odor and the breath. An alkaline body doesn't produce nearly the amount of toxins and thus there are less to eliminate through the pores. Garlic and onions are simply odor-producing foods for the breath due to their healthy antioxidant sulfur, which is actually a detoxifying agent to the liver. They don’t stink for the same reasons as meat and dairy.
9. Hair and Nail Growth
Yes, one of the biggest benefits to eating vegetarian foods is they strengthen your hair and nails, and help them to grow faster and healthier. A malnourished vegetarian diet will NOT provide this, and I've succumbed to that mistake before by trying to eliminate too many food groups. Now, I eat all varieties of plants such as starches from sweet potatoes and squash; proteins from seeds like hemp seeds, chia seeds,and spirulina; healthy fats from raw oils; zinc and B vitamins from nuts and seeds; Vitamin E from avocados; magnesium from leafy greens, and Vitamin A, which is found in most of these foods. These nutrients all play a critical role in healthy hair and nail growth. My hair is growing faster than ever, along with my nails being stronger. This is all on me eating a plant-based diet 99% of the time.
10. Less Migraines and Allergies
Did you know certain protein compounds in animal foods increase the chances of migraines and allergies in the body? It’s true! When you reduce animal foods, your migraines and allergies will naturally lessen or disappear. I know ragweed always kicks my butt, so I’ll see how this spring goes as I incorporate more plants in my diet. While certain plants from some sources can trigger allergies too, I do think it is worth giving a plant-based diet a try to lessen the amounts of allergens you suffer from. I have noticed significantly less headaches and migraines since eating plant-based foods. On a primary meat-based diet, I got headaches all the time.
This article isn't meant to tell you that eating vegan or vegetarian is right for everyone. This article is intended to show you the benefits of simply adding more plant-based foods to your diet that don't have to do with your weight. Vegetarian foods are often seen as a dieting protocol, and I hope these 10 benefits will prove there are more benefits than just weight loss to eating plant foods. I do believe a vegetarian diet, on the other hand, is optimal. Even though unhealthy foods like white rice, sugar, etc. are vegetarian, don’t confuse these foods with foods that are advised to be eaten here. The idea of eating a vegetarian diet isn't about restriction, however also isn't a free token to eat nutritionally lacking foods from processed vegetarian foods. A great example of a vegetarian diet is the occasional egg or fish meal from quality sources, with plenty of raw nuts, seeds, healthy fats , healthy starches from root vegetables, gluten-free grains, and tons of green vegetables, leafy greens, and low-glycemic fruits such as berries, apples, pears, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, squash, lemons and limes. If you tolerate beans, then by all means incorporate these into your meals as well. Eating plants is a delicious and freeing way to live.What are you favorite ways to incorporate plant-based foods into your diet?