There are many reasons why one might consider becoming a vegetarian. Some may point to the environmental benefits of eating less meat, especially beef. Others may point to ethical concerns regarding animal welfare. While these reasons certainly are important, perhaps the best reason one should consider switching to a vegetarian diet is the potential health benefits. Eating a diet free of meat and high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and plant protein may lower the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and other ailments.
One of the best potential health benefits of becoming a vegetarian is the lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Cory Harow, an emergency medicine specialist, knows all too well the consequences of not following a heart-healthy diet. Throughout his years of practice, he sees the premature aging and death that come from eating an unhealthy diet that is not good for the heart. That is why, even though he does not follow a vegetarian diet himself, he encourages those that want to eat a more plant-based diet, filled with fresh foods to do so. Cutting out meat, especially red meat, has been shown in studies to reduce the chances of cardiac episodes. Also, plant-protein, such as nuts and legumes, often replaces animal sources of protein. These have a low glycemic index and are a good source of antioxidants.
Another benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it may lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer, including colon cancer. Studies have shown that those who do not eat red meat have a lower risk of developing colon cancer. Vegetarians have also been found to have lower levels of substances that are potentially carcinogenic in their colon. Scientists believe that this is because vegetarians do not eat red meat, and also are more focused on eating fresh fruits and vegetables than those who eat meat. These benefits are another reason why Dr. Cory Harow also encourages a vegetarian diet. Any dietary changes that can reduce the risk of developing a devastating disease such as cancer should be encouraged, in his view.
Switching to a vegetarian diet may also lower a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have found that those that eat processed meats, such as bacon, hot dogs, and bologna have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Riding processed and red meats from one’s diet completely and switching to a predominantly plant-based diet can be a great way to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Overall, the health benefits of a vegetarian diet are plentiful. As long as one focuses on eating healthy, fresh, and non-processed foods, a vegetarian diet can be a great and healthful diet. Plant-based proteins, including nuts and legumes, are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that are essential for good health. Also, receiving nutrients from fruits and vegetables instead of processed meat is a great way to cut the risk of developing certain diseases while providing your body with the key vitamins it needs to stay healthy.