Vegetarianism is a Healthy Alternative When Done Right

I am writing in response to some objections to vegetarianism, one of which was published in DN last week. First my experience: I have been a vegetarian since 2011 and have been on a vegan diet since June. I was raised in a typical Nebraska family and my decision to stop eating meat was an independent choice. Over the years I have faced ridicule, but in general my family and friends support me.

Experiments with vegetarianism, implying that drastic physical changes can be made in a few weeks, upset me. If the experimenter becomes significantly better after 14 days, it is logical to assume that vegetarianism is advisable. If not, you need to go back to the butchers, grill and burgers. This standard is more than unrealistic.

Big physical changes in the human body just don’t happen in two weeks. I blame high expectations on trendy diets. I blame the myths that you can lose 10 kilos in a week by cutting carbs, cleansing your digestive system, drinking nothing but juice for three days, that starting Monday morning tea can make you feel refreshed in three days. I blame the common stereotype that to be healthy, you need to change one thing and do the rest the same as before.

Expecting amazing results in such a short amount of time is a lack of knowledge about vegetarianism and often leads to wrong conclusions.

Vegetarianism, when done right, is healthier than the standard American meat diet. Many of the benefits relate to long-term health. Very long term. Vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, and are far less likely to develop type XNUMX diabetes, according to the Harvard Medical School Division of Health Surveillance. It is unreasonable to expect a reduction in the risk of heart disease in a few days. However, these changes are still worthwhile.

Potential vegetarians may be concerned about iron deficiency. I know their argument: vegetarians don’t get easily absorbed heme iron and become anemic. Actually, it is not. Numerous studies show that vegetarians do not suffer from iron deficiency more often than non-vegetarians.

Many vegetarian and vegan foods, such as soybeans, chickpeas, and tofu, contain as much or more iron than a comparable amount of meat. Dark green vegetables like spinach and kale are also high in iron. Yes, an ill-conceived vegetarian diet can cause deficiencies in important nutrients, but the same can be said for any ill-conceived diet.

Most failed experiments with vegetarianism come down to this: an ill-conceived diet. You can not lean on cheese and carbohydrates, and then blame the vegetarianism. In a December article, my colleague Oliver Tonkin wrote at length about the moral values ​​of a vegan diet, so I’m not repeating his arguments here.

In terms of health, I can say that three years of vegetarianism had no negative consequences for me and helped me maintain a normal weight during college. Like any other healthy diet, vegetarianism can be right and wrong. Need to think. So, if you are planning to switch to a vegetarian diet, think carefully.



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