Maybe you are tempted to go vegan, or maybe you just want to be healthier – is eating less meat a good idea? Let’s look at a few facts so you can choose for yourself.
Meat is responsible for around 60% of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions — which is just one of many reasons why so many people are embracing plant-based diets. Health is a second big reason why many consumers are opting to either go vegan/vegetarian/pescetarian or simply reduce their red meat consumption to around once a month. If you are thinking of cutting back on meat, what benefits can you look forward to and how can you make a smooth transition?
What Does Science Say on the Health Effects of Eating Meat?
Many studies have shown that enjoying a meatless or no-meat diet can boost your health. Researchers have found that vegetarians generally consume fewer calories and less fat, have a lower BMI, and have a lower risk of heart disease than omnivores. Studies have also linked red meat consumption to a higher risk of death from diabetes, stroke, or heart disease. Most clinical dieticians feel that the protein consumption of the average American is more than enough. Moreover, protein can be sourced from a variety of sources — including eggs, tofu, beans, unsalted nuts, seeds, and more.
Plant-Forward Cuisine an Alternative to Veganism
Despite knowing that plant-based diets promote the attainment of a healthy BMI and various other health goals, many people are not willing to commit to a meatless diet and prefer to embrace a plant-rich or flexitarian diet. This involves consuming meat products in moderation while enjoying a wider variety of health-promoting nutrients such as berries (for their antioxidant power), citrus fruits (for their Vitamin C quotient), and leafy greens like spinach (since they are high in iron). The key is to consume a wide array of healthy foods so as to promote the establishment of a healthy, varied gut microbiome.
Gut and Mind Health are Linked
Consuming fruits and vegetables can boost your mental health owing to the mind-gut connection. Studies have shown that people with depression tend to have low levels of two specific gut bacteria species (coprococcus and dialister). To ensure a varied, healthy microbiome, consuming high-fiber foods is key. Fiber (obtained from fruits, vegetables, and fortified cereal) leads to increases in bacteria required to break it down — including bifidobacterium, prevotella, and bacteroides. Interestingly, scientists have found an important link between low levels of gut bacteria, autoimmune disorders, and mental conditions (such as depression, mood disorders, and anxiety).
Plant-based diets are a good option for those wishing to improve their physical and mental health. Eating less meat is linked to better heart health and can also lower the likelihood of diabetes and stroke. You don’t have to go all-out to reap the benefits of plant foods. You can simply aim to consume a wide array of fruits and vegetables so as to boost your physical and mental health and wellbeing.