Going green in diet and nixing meat for good? You will not regret it, not when there are so many benefits to swapping out animal products for a more natural diet. Becoming a vegetarian was one of the best lifestyle switches of my entire life, and I am not alone. When the first year of becoming vegetarian, my body experienced a huge, positive change – and if you do the same, I guarantee you will receive a similar positive experience within a span of just 12 months.
Why did I give up meat?
Like most people, vegetarians start out loving every treasure found in the carnivorous diet. Bacon, turkey, hot dogs, and steak. I, too, used to absolutely adore a heaping plate of Christmas dinner pork tenderloin in the past.
But then something happened. I remember making the choice to just gradually stop eating every single animal-based protein in my life back in high school and took it from there. What truly convinced me were the following things:
Many vegetarians will note the same thing that within 1 year, their bad cholesterol levels plummeted. That is because an excessive intake of animal protein is the sole source of natural cholesterol on this planet. The human body makes its own, so there is really no need to overload it with 3 meals of red meat every single day.
When you switch to a plant-based diet, you do not take in any bad cholesterol, so all you have is what your body requires for base functioning. Moreover, less triglycerides from animal-proteins and less cholesterol decreases the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, stroke, and other heart-related diseases.
Lastly in terms of internal health, plant-based diets have been proven by research to reduce cancer genes in men and lengthen human telomeres. Telomeres are those little time keepers in our bodies that age us, and they faster they disintegrate, the faster we break down. But vegetarianism and veganism puts a stopper on that. So for every year you’re a herbivore, the longer your life becomes.
Naturally, meat is more calorically dense than plant-based dishes. For example, while a single serving of broccoli has more protein per gram than steak, 100 grams of broccoli is around 35 calories while steak is roughly 270 calories. When you are no longer taking in Whopper calories and need to fill up with fibrous greens and the like, you actually take in less calories throughout the day.
But you will not feel any less satiated, I promise. I mean, I lost about 20 pounds in a year just by switching from omnivore to vegetarian. An additional bonus, that does not really feel like one at first, is the increase in friendly gut bacteria.
Meat-based diets cause havoc in the digestive system, but a plant-based one makes for a happy GI tract. At first, as the body adjusts to an increase in gut bacteria and different nutrient absorption, you may feel bloated at first. However, once this balances out, you will not only digest foods more easily, you will get minerals and vitamins out of everything you ingest.
One of the main reasons I went vegetarian was to help with my autoimmune disorder, which causes horrible inflammation in my joints. Since a plant-based diet has been proven to flush toxins from the body that cause chronic inflammation, I figured I could give it a go. My flare-ups drastically reduced within a year. Now, unless I am terribly stressed out, I can more or less control an attack by maintaining a diet rich in anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables, and soy.
You dramatically reduce your chance for developing a metabolic syndrome like diabetes when you leave animal proteins off your plate. Why? Saturated fat, cholesterol, nitrates, iron, and other things found in meat damage the pancreas, increase inflammation, cause weight gain, and thus deregulate insulin and blood glucose production. Meat does not do for the body what whole grains and fiber can do. Want to reduce your risk of diabetes in under a year’s time? Say no to meat.
Consider this: Meat is usually 1 or 2 servings max. Fruit, peanut butter, lentils and beans, sprouted grain bread, and other vegetarian mainstays last way, way longer than that. More money in the bank means more fun for you. Another bonus is that the vegetarian fare at restaurants is usually one of the cheaper options on the menu. Score!
Reduced green house gases
One of the reasons behind vegetarianism and veganism is to reduce the amount of livestock required to feed the population. Cow farts and related gaseous fumes are serious business. Not to mention that maintaining pastures has led to deforestation, water supply depletion, wildlife destruction and extinction. By 2050, it is estimated that most of the world’s crops will be consumed by livestock, not people.
Vegetarianism and veganism are great for not only promoting healthy lifestyles, they elongate and enrich our lives. If for no other reason, going vegetarian for one year lessens the demand for meat. In turn, this helps save Earth.