Benefits of being vegetarian

Being vegetarian provides a healthier lifestyle


In the U.S., about 10% of the population over age 18 is vegan or vegetarian, according to a study done by the Alliance For Science organization. Vegetarianism, defined as the practice of not eating meat or fish, can be both a moral choice or a healthy approach to life. Whether it is provoked by a concern for the environment, animals or personal health, this diet is full of positive impacts. Although there are obvious drawbacks to a vegetarian diet, the benefits outweigh them.


For the average person, a vegetarian diet would offer more health benefits than an omnivorous one. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians may be up to one-third less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease. Additionally, according to a study published by Cambridge University Press, vegetarians on average have lower blood pressures than their omnivorous counterparts, since plant foods are often higher in potassium, and lower in cholesterol, fat and sodium.


A vegetarian diet comes with ethical benefits as well. Meat, as well as livestock feed, is responsible for 57% of all food production emissions, while only 29% comes from plant-based food cultivation, according to a study published in Nature Food. Furthermore, a substantial amount of water is used to grow this feed, much more than the amount of water used to grow vegetables, grains and fruit that make up the average vegetarian diet. A report by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization predicts that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will lack access to clean water. A vegetarian diet, which uses less water than the typical omnivorous diet, may be the solution.


Although the benefits are plentiful, there are consequential drawbacks to this lifestyle. Arguably, the biggest one is the risk for nutritional deficiencies. In fact, a study by the Health and Food Supplements Information Service suggests that around 13% of vegetarians show one or more nutrient deficiencies.


While this is a legitimate concern, there are plenty of alternatives to these nutrients in the form of supplements, and in some cases, just meat-free foods. For example, vitamin B12, a vitamin necessary for developing red blood cells, maintaining nerves and normal brain function, is found in many animal-sourced foods. Aside from meat, though, it is found in dairy products and eggs, and vitamin B12 supplements can be found in most every supermarket.


Aside from the many positives of a vegetarian diet, the drawbacks are few, and are arguably easy to deal with for people in positions that are physically and financially able to do so. With this, it is clear that the advantages of a vegetarian diet outweigh the disadvantages, and the positive impacts that come from it are abundant.