Are vegetarians healthier than meat eaters?

Years of debate between meat eaters and vegetarians has clouded the facts, but the stats are in. Is it actually healthier to eat a meat-free diet?

Are vegetarians healthier than meat eaters?

It is commonly known nowadays that cutting out meat is one of the best moves we can make to keep our planet healthy, but could it do the same for our bodies?

New research has predicted that one third of early deaths could be prevented if everyone switched to a vegetarian diet, according to healthline.com.

In general, vegetarians are less likely to smoke or drink excessively and more likely to maintain regular exercise than meat eaters. According to Harvard Health, they also consume more fibre, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, phytochemicals and vitamins C and E. Generally, they’ll consume less cholesterol and saturated fat, leading to lower blood pressure, BMI and bad cholesterol. On average, vegetarians are 25 per cent less likely to die from heart disease than non-vegetarians.

Studies have also shown that a vegetarian diet can generally lower your risk of developing some cancers by around 10 per cent. However, the type of meat consumed or avoided may alter the consequences. For example, fish eaters may have a slightly lower risk than vegetarians at getting certain cancers, while cutting out red meat lowers your risk of colon cancer.

A number of studies have drawn correlations between increased meat consumption and the increased risk of diabetes. Even after taking into account the BMI, calorie intake and exercise of participants, studies have suggested that meat-eaters have twice the risk of developing diabetes than vegetarians. So, if developing or managing diabetes is a concern of yours, it may be time to cut back on the meat, especially processed meats.

Of course, there are fears associated with cutting staples out of your diet, and some may be justified. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products, but this includes dairy and eggs, so most vegetarians get all they need in their daily diet. However, vitamin supplements or foods such as breakfast cereals, rice or soy beverages are often recommended to vegans. In Western countries, there’s no evidence of vegetarians being deficient in either iron, zinc or protein: all these can be easily found in a healthy meat-free diet.

Are you a vegetarian? If so, why? If not, would you consider reducing the meat in your diet?

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    COMMENTS

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    Triss
    1st Apr 2019
    11:17am
    I've been vegetarian for nearly 30 years and I haven't missed eating meat or fish at all. I'm vegetarian partly for health but mostly because I think it's bizarre to kill a living, breathing animal just so you can gnaw on its leg.
    But I am realistic, I do realise that there are people who need meat in their diet and don't feel well without it.
    Gammer
    1st Apr 2019
    11:45am
    Yes, Triss, I’ve been vegetarian for about 14 years primarily because I love all animals and it would seem like cannibalism to me now to eat them. My children and their families are all meat eaters - thankfully, not excessively so - but that is their choice....
    KSS
    1st Apr 2019
    6:17pm
    Well over 45 years for me.

    I guess when you cross the 40 year mark you stop prosthetising all the time.

    I have no right to judge what others eat; animal, vegetable or mineral and expect others not to judge me. I make my own decisions, other do the same.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    2:56am
    The three of us should start a YLC's vego club!
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    3:02am
    Actually I think I counted 8 vegos here so far.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    3:07am
    Triss no one needs meat, the reason why they think they need meat is because often they have to go through a detox before getting healthier. Unless they do it slowly bit by bit but most importantly often they do not consume the right foods or the right amount when trying vegetarian or vegan.
    Triss
    2nd Apr 2019
    8:30am
    Perhaps we could win people over, musicveg, with more vegetarian grub in the recipe section here.
    pedro the swift
    1st Apr 2019
    11:35am
    Not a vegetarian , nor do I want to be. I have no issue with those who want to indulge in living off greenery. what does REALLY get me uptight is the bunch of loony greenies who want to force everyone to to their way of living. They can't seem to leave meateaters alone with out playing the "holier then thou' card and have to invade farms, restaurants, cafes etc with their hysterical rantings. We do not force you to eat meat so leave those who choose to alone, or maybe we could just retaliate and shove a nice piece of raw liver down your throat.
    Polly Esther
    1st Apr 2019
    12:00pm
    ha ha ha ha Pedro LOL
    You speak sense there, with some humour thrown in.
    Colours
    1st Apr 2019
    2:24pm
    Give us a break - the only people "forcing" you to eat anything are the marketeers from the advertising departments of the corporations who make billions from killing animals.

    Your argument is totally illogical. It's OK to do anything you "choose" to do? So, why do you force your views on burglars or drunk drivers, who also choose their actions? Actions have consequences, and the consequences of your choices affect the health system, the environment, and of course the animals, who suffer and die for your addictions.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    2:58am
    They (loony greenies as you call them) are being voices for those animals who cannot speak for themselves and suffer everyday being slaughtered.
    JAID
    2nd Apr 2019
    11:02am
    Can't say as I disagree with you Pedro. Holier than thou anything is a serious put-off. People have difficulty just living and leaving others to do it their own way. Preachers everywhere. My approximately one beef burger patty in 50 years was not for any belief that we are meant to do this and not that. Humans are omnivores. That makes animals fair game.

    Fair game but not to be taken lightly, life is glorious, wonton waste disgusts.
    Rowena
    1st Apr 2019
    11:52am
    I went vegetarian in the early 1980s, from love and empathy for animals, and a deep desire to eat and live healthily in a way that didn't involve causing them suffering or taking their lives. It took me a few years to work out balancing nutrients, and my health was average to fair overall.
    I became vegan 8 years ago, and have had en entirely plant-based diet since then, and my health improved a lot, especially in the area of colds and flu, which I tended to get a few of every year since my childhood (which was traditional meat+3 veg). Since eliminating all animal products, especially dairy, I've very rarely had a cold, and other inflammatory health conditions have eased hugely (including a genetic one considered 'incurable' by specialists).
    So I'm extremely happy to have gone with the 'food journey' that my empathetic nature called me to, no regrets and have never felt like I was 'missing out'. Being compassionate does increase peace and happiness, in my experience.

    Vitamin B12 being deficient or unavailable in plant-based diets is a common misconception. Actaully, unless you have a particular health reason to supplement, B12 is naturally available in nutritional yeast (sold as yeast flakes) which can be sprinkled like cheese onto meals, will dissolve if added to soups etc, and also is available in good ol' Vegemite, or equivalent spreads like Marmite, Promite etc.

    It's got easier and easier to source vegan food products in the last few years, as soy and nut milks and all manner of plant-based options like coconut-milk based ice-creams have gained popularity and supermarket shelf-space. It's going mainstream, through fast food chains; for example, Hungry Jacks' Vegan Burger, Domino's vegan cheese pizza toppings etc.
    It's exciting as a long-term vego to see the rapid rise of plant-based dietary and other products (such as vegan leather) happening now! Whether for personal health reasons, the environment or compassion for animals, or all three, it's a sign of a shift in awareness overall, that I'm really delighted to be a part of.
    Colours
    1st Apr 2019
    2:19pm
    Well said, Rowena - you summed up the vegan position perfectly.

    Incidentally, my doctor told me about 50% of the population is B12 deficient, so looking to that as a reason not to go veg is irrational. I'd rather have some yeast than blood thinners.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    3:01am
    Just a note, not all nutritional yeast has B12, you should look into it more, I was eating it too but realized it is another processed product, we need very little B12 and if you eat lots of fresh greens, fruit and wholefoods keeping our gut healthy you should be able to make it. Many meat eaters can be deficient in B12 too and often are.
    Rowena
    2nd Apr 2019
    12:08pm
    Thanks for that, Colours and MusicVeg...I didn't know that about nutritional yeast, and agree about a fresh, wholefood diet. :)
    Practically, not many people acclimatized to a highly processed and/or meat-based diet are likely to suddenly leap into a plant-based wholefood diet, and then maintain it...and because of that, I watch with interest the rise of 'vegan options' in the mainstream and fast food arenas, that are not necessarily much healthier than animal products (as they are also processed foods), but signal a change in consciousness that can ultimately open the door to a deeper plant-based nutrition awareness.

    People are diverse; some will make an instant change when they feel a strong enough desire, for others a transitional approach may work better and is more successful long-term. If 'vegan cheese' or 'vegan ham' help people make that transition, when it comes to foods they have a strong attachment to (emotionally, mentally etc), then it has a place, from a kindness to animals point of view.
    Often even making this choice sparks a deeper 'nutritional curiosity', that will quickly or gradually take people toward a natural wholefood diet as they start to open to fresh plant options. I've seen this unfold many times, in different ways. :)
    koshka
    1st Apr 2019
    3:15pm
    I am Vegan for ethic motivation. And as a bonus my health is better than ever as well as my pocket...the animals, the planet and my conscience, humane that is.
    caporal
    1st Apr 2019
    4:15pm
    Hi Triss , I also have been a vegetarian for almost 30yrs or more , it was a hippie thing to do in the 60's !! What Pedro is saying is untrue , I do find the opposite , when in a group of people and order vegetarian , there is normally some silence from the people around me , as if I have some weird religion believe !! I still play tennis 3 times a week , walk a lot and can keep up with the grandchildren . However 4 yrs ago did have a stroke whilst playing table tennis at competitive level !!and needed a triple bypass !! Now I am vegan !!!
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    3:04am
    Yes vegan is better because you are not consuming animal products that can still clog up the arteries.
    caporal
    1st Apr 2019
    4:16pm
    Hi Triss , I also have been a vegetarian for almost 30yrs or more , it was a hippie thing to do in the 60's !! What Pedro is saying is untrue , I do find the opposite , when in a group of people and order vegetarian , there is normally some silence from the people around me , as if I have some weird religion believe !! I still play tennis 3 times a week , walk a lot and can keep up with the grandchildren . However 4 yrs ago did have a stroke whilst playing table tennis at competitive level !!and needed a triple bypass !! Now I am vegan !!!
    patti
    1st Apr 2019
    4:18pm
    I gave up meat and fish six years ago, and have felt much healthier ever since. I don't smoke, drink alcohol and coffee either. I minimise my consumption of all animal products and eat pretty much plant based. It's also a cheaper option......as well as being better for animals and the planet in general. Much of what is wrong with Western diet is the over-reliance on large portions of meat and animals fats. The only time I would criticise anyone for their choice is if their diet is giving them heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure. Almost all illness can be controlled by diet. Big Pharma doesn't need our money
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    3:10am
    I agree Patti, big pharma is only a temporary fix if that, only diet is your only chance of prevention and often cure of disease. Let food be thy medicine as Hippocrates said.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    2:55am
    If you are still consuming animal products then your health is often not much better than a meat eater. Vegan can be unhealthy too if you eat a lot of processed foods. Best for health is wholefood plant based diet which includes lots of green leafy veg and fresh fruit.
    As for B12 that is a spin by the meat industry, we hardly need any at all, I have been vegan many years and never tested low in B12 and I rarely take supplements. We need only minuscule amounts and our guts if healthy will make it.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    3:05am
    For anyone interested there is much to read on these websites:
    forksoverknives.com
    onegreenplanet.com
    nutritionalfacts.com
    Lisbeth
    2nd Apr 2019
    6:19am
    Hi, I was vegetarian for 20 years and then becoming vegan for a further15 years. I love not eating meat but I felt particularly more healthy not eating dairy. I became vegetarian/vegan for animal welfare and climate change reasons, am very healthy and exercise every day. My whole family is vegan now ... mainly for climate change reasons.
    Triss
    2nd Apr 2019
    8:39am
    I’d like to change from vegetarian to vegan as well, Lisbeth, but I dislike the taste of all the non-dairy milks. Pathetic I know.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    11:06pm
    Triss I do not like any of the supermarket plant milks either, but I make my own almond milk and you can sweeten it to your own tastes, many recipes on the net but it is really easy to do. Also have you tried coconut milk, I find it too sweet but it depends on what you are using the plant milk for.
    Snowflake
    2nd Apr 2019
    8:45am
    I refused to eat meat as soon as I was old enought to say Yuk. So I have ben vergetarian for 66 years. I don't eat fish either. I can't say I have been particularly careful about what I eat as I do have a fairly sweet tooth but have been cutting back a lot on that sort of stuff and watch my diet a little closer these days. Now I am in the gym three times a week, I was playng tennis three times a week until I got planter faciitis but will be back to it when that gets better, I hope. Generally my health is pretty good. Don't smoke or drink so I think there is a lot to be said for what you eat and lifestyle being the indicator of your health. Besides eating dead animals doesn't appeal one bit.
    caporal
    2nd Apr 2019
    9:29am
    oh my gosh , great to see so much good feedback regarding being vegetarian / vegan. I have gone a step further , after my triple by pass , last year I stop taking any more drugs , and now just rely on a good diet and plenty of exercise and feeling good . My local doctor will not help me anymore , he just wants me to take the drugs again !!
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    11:10pm
    Well done for giving the pharmies a kick, they often can make things worse, because they have to be filtered by your liver. I highly recommend the books by Anthony williams, "Liver Rescue" "Life changing foods" "Thyroid Healing" and his soon to be released (in May) "Celery Juice". In his Liver book he explains a lot about pharmaceuticals and how they effect the liver etc. And there is lot more you can do to improve your health, I now drink lemon juice every morning and when I can get organic celery I drink celery juice.
    caporal
    2nd Apr 2019
    9:29am
    oh my gosh , great to see so much good feedback regarding being vegetarian / vegan. I have gone a step further , after my triple by pass , last year I stop taking any more drugs , and now just rely on a good diet and plenty of exercise and feeling good . My local doctor will not help me anymore , he just wants me to take the drugs again !!
    JAID
    2nd Apr 2019
    10:33am
    Vegetarian, yes. Have had vegan flings for a year or two here and there but was not interested in holding it, seemed too doctrinaire which I take as out of character for me.

    The reasons are simple enough.

    As a baby I was returned to hospital with a digestive system disorder and stayed there a long while. Then and for a long while after, my meals were all and only raw egg and milk. I dislike both with a vengeance. My parents never again forced them on me.

    Brought up on a farm, one of those largish enough to make good use of all the largest equipment but not quite large enough to comfortably afford the same. (A top of the line header/harvester alone can cost many hundreds of thousands today add semi trailers and the largest tractors and you get the picture.) Dad would take the harvester off for a relatively short period contracting, sometimes along with a semi. At this time and from an early age it had to be my job to kill the family meat. You feel the life go out of them. I had no problem with it and do not to this day but knew that when I didn't need to I would not kill or expect others to kill for me. So it just happened that sometime after leaving home all meat just pettered out like all the milk and eggs must have before it.

    I remember the last burger I had in early 1970 and a few months later I cooked a chicken (Spanish style) the first did nothing for me, the blend of spices on the other was stunning but I found myself leaving it for the others. Some months after that someone told me chiko rolls were actually vegetarian. One bite proved otherwise. No more, it had drifted out of my life. Easily and without fanfare.

    Life has been extremely easy as a vegetarian. Who knows there probably were a few snickers here and there back then but not that I noticed. My farming family were always remarkably respectful of the choice as were my friends.

    In the early 70's there were not the options available you have today but when your choices are less than mainstream you need to tailor your expectation. It is easy to miss a meal or two, easier still to just have the simplest salad if that is what is available and not hard to put your hosts at ease.

    Later in the 70's I was travelling through the Tanami (NT/WA.) Not one to plan trips in great detail I was ignorant of the fuel stop at Rabbit Flat. Stopping to top up my extra fuel tanks It was pleasing to find that food was served (this must be a few hundred K's from anywhere) The proprietor (or the half I met) was a French lady. When sorting out what to eat it occurred that suitable fare was limited to just about lettuce, tomato and onions. She returned with a huge bowl (medium/large mixing bowl size) full of that with a superb dressing. I ate the whole damn lot. We met again at the counter by the door where I begged to pay. She refused saying she could not charge for rabbit food. $10 was quite a lot then, I demanded she take it and regarded it as cheap at the price. You would too if you could get such fresh produce in the desert let alone the well balanced overall dish. If you knew Alice Springs at the time you would know how hard it would be to get that freshness. How they kept the roos out of their garden I will never know.
    musicveg
    2nd Apr 2019
    11:52pm
    Here is some amazing facts about kale, find ways to eat it full of nutrients, and easy to grow too,and more calcium than cows milk:
    http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/crouching-garnish-hidden-superfood-secret-life-kale?

    28th May 2019
    1:01pm
    mmmm interesting

    A vegan who lived off a gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, meat-free and refined sugar-free diet has ditched the plant-based regimen and started eating burgers.

    Virpi Mikkonen, 38, claims her vegan diet “brought on early menopause”, leading to hot flushes and absent periods, The Sun reported.

    An award-winning blogger who championed plant-based eating, Virpi’s vegan diet, along with her four cookbooks, earned her hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

    But after a specalist advised Virpi, aknown as Vanelja on Instagram, to ditch her meat-free lifestyl because of her health issues, the blogger started eating meat — and vegans are furious."

    since going back onto meat etc her periods have returned and the hot flushes gone.
    musicveg
    28th May 2019
    2:16pm
    So what, just because a person chooses a vegan diet and then goes back to eating meat does not mean anything. They were not doing the vegan diet properly otherwise they would have thrived like so many do. Just like any diet meat or otherwise unless you eat correctly and not partake in processed foods and eat wholefoods you will have issues, many vegans simply do not eat enough calories. And to listen to someone from Instagram just shows how much people can easily be influenced by social media without doing their own research and working out things for themselves. A person on Instagram can always claim they are a "specialist". Personally I have never heard of either of these people so they can't be that well known.


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