7 Reasons to Increase Vegetable Consumption and Reduce Meat Consumption in Your Diet
A worldwide movement is underway to eat less meat. People become vegetarians or flexitarians for a variety of reasons, including compassion for animals, but many others do so for health and other reasons. So, why should you consider cutting down on your meat consumption and increasing your vegetable intake?
- Benefits to your health: Eating more vegetables can improve your nutrition, help you lose weight, and lower your risk of chronic disease.
- Environmental advantages: Meat production contributes significantly to global warming.
- Financial advantages: Because meat can be costly, reducing your consumption can help you save money on groceries.
1 Nutritional Advantages
For good health, Australian dietary guidelines recommend that we consume five servings of vegetables per day. However, only about one in ten Australian adults consumes the recommended daily amount of vegetables. Other foods such as meat, grains, and dairy products are being consumed by the rest of us. While red meat, fish, and poultry provide essential protein and minerals for cell repair, we still lack the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that only vegetables can provide.
What are the advantages of vegetables in terms of health?
When compared to other food types, vegetables have some of the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals. The nutrients found in vegetables, as well as the health benefits they provide, include:
- Vitamin C aids in the healing of minor skin injuries and the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums.
- Iron is required for red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body.
- Magnesium is necessary for strong bones and the prevention of muscle cramps and high blood pressure.
- Folic acid is necessary for pregnant women because it lowers the risk of having a baby with a brain or spinal cord defect.
- Vitamin A is important for healthy eyes and skin, as well as infection prevention.
- Calcium is required for strong bones and teeth, as well as the normal function of muscles, nerves, and glands.
- Fiber helps to lower the risk of heart disease and bowel cancer.
- Potassium aids in the maintenance of a healthy blood pressure.
Due to regulated blood sugar levels and an increase in vitamins and minerals, eating five servings of vegetables for one week can help you feel more energized.
2 Weight Gain is Reduced (Sometimes)
Over the course of a year, the average Australian adult gains 0.62 kilograms. Over half of the weight gain (0.32 kg) occurs during the holiday season, and it isn't all due to the 'Christmas Pud.' We can blame some of our unwanted curves on the ham, turkey, pork, and chicken we eat at Christmas lunch and as leftovers days later.
In theory, switching from meat to vegetables all year should prevent you from gaining weight. We don't eat vegetables on their own, which is the problem. The kilojoules come from how we prepare the vegetables and what we eat with them. Hidden calories can be found in au gratin sauce, cream in bakes, butter for mashing, oil for roasting, and salad dressings. You may think you're doing the right thing by eating vegetables, but in some cases, a lean piece of pork would be a better choice than the creamy potato bake.
Eating more vegetables can also help you avoid reaching for fast food. Keeping carrot and cucumber sticks cut up on your desk at work may prevent you from visiting the vending machine in the middle of the afternoon.
If you're trying to lose weight by eating less meat, pay attention to what you put in your salad or cooked vegetables. Try to eat as many vegetables raw as possible, and read the labels on condiments and other ingredients to see how many calories and ingredients they contain. Many salad dressings contain hidden calories in the form of sugar.
3 Cholesterol Reduction
Saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels, and animal meat contains the majority of these fats. The Journal of the American Heart Association published a review of 11 studies from around the world to see if a vegetarian diet affects cholesterol levels in people with heart disease or heart disease risk factors. The participants, who ranged in age from 28 to 54, ate a vegan or vegetarian diet as opposed to an omnivorous diet of plant and animal products. Participants who ate a vegetarian diet had their total cholesterol reduced by 13.9 mg, their LDL (bad cholesterol) reduced by 13.1 mg, and their HDL (good cholesterol) reduced by 3.9 mg, according to the study.
A vegetarian diet, along with increased exercise and weight loss, was recommended in the study. So, if you're trying to lower your cholesterol, cutting back on high-saturated-fat meat could be a good place to start.
4 Take Care of Your Skin
Every year, Australians spend millions of dollars on skin creams and beauty products in the pursuit of flawless skin. If only they knew that they could eat their way to a healthy glow.
Eating fish rather than meat can help with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis by providing omega-3 fats, zinc, and vitamin E. Some dermatologists advise cutting back on saturated and hydrogenated fats found in meat, processed foods, and margarine if you have acne. Acne sufferers should eat foods high in selenium, such as tuna, nuts, seeds, and wholemeal bread.
Acne sufferers should consume 10 fist-sized servings of vegetables per day, preferably those with deep or bright colors, as they contain a variety of antioxidants that reduce free-radical damage and inflammation.
So, if you have acne or other skin conditions, cutting back on meat and increasing your vegetable intake can help your skin.
5 Lower Your Chances of Contracting a Chronic Illness
The health effects of a meat-heavy diet have been the subject of numerous studies. Overeating meat has been linked to cancer because of its high saturated fat content.
Processed meats like bacon, salami, and sausages are classified as group 1 carcinogens by the World Health Organization, which means they increase your risk of colon and rectum cancer by 18%. Red meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork, is classified as group 2A, which indicates that it is likely to cause cancer.
Vegetarians are 40% less likely than meat eaters to develop cancer, according to a study conducted in Germany and England.
One serving of red meat consumed during adolescence was linked to a 22 percent increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, according to a Harvard study published in 2014. Adults who ate one serving per day had a 13 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Cancer and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia have been linked to saturated fat.
6 It's Beneficial to the Environment
According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, animal production contributes on a “massive scale” to global warming, land degradation, water and energy use, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.
Some people eat a plant-based diet to reduce their carbon footprint, save water, and reduce the amount of land needed for animal farming, which is known as environmental vegetarianism.
Ruminant animals like cows, sheep, goats, and camels contribute to global warming by producing massive amounts of methane in their guts, which they then expel into the atmosphere. A dairy cow can produce 200 liters of methane per day, whereas a sheep can only produce 30. Livestock is estimated to emit 100 million tonnes of methane per year, making it the second-largest man-made methane source after rice production.
Animal production necessitates a large amount of water. Livestock production is estimated to consume 8% of the world's total human water consumption. A kilo of wheat uses about 1,500 liters of water to grow, whereas a kilo of beef uses ten times as much. A large portion of that water is used in the production of animal feed. Producing vegetables uses a lot less water.
7 It's Beneficial to Your Hip Pocket
Purchasing meat for the evening meal is costly. Meat is the most expensive part of the grocery bill for many families. If you've ever been to a supermarket in a European country, you'll know that meat is even more expensive. If you replace one meat-based main meal a week with a vegetarian dish, you can save hundreds of dollars per year on food, and thousands if you eliminate all meat entirely.
For a long time, the Mediterranean diet has been regarded as the healthiest. Most residents of blue zones, which are areas where a large percentage of the population is over 100 years old, follow a Mediterranean diet in some form. A study in the United States found that you can eat a Mediterranean diet for less money than the US Department of Agriculture's economic dietary guidelines. Using frozen vegetables can help you save money without sacrificing nutrient quality.
How to Increase Your Vegetable Consumption
If you're not ready to give up meat but want to increase your vegetable intake, there are several options.
- Vegetable Juice: Start your day with a vegetable-rich juice or green smoothie. Before the morning tea cravings have a chance to kick in, you may have met your recommended daily vegetable intake.
- Substitute a Salad for Lunch Meat: For years, experts have warned us that processed deli meats are bad for our health. They may contain carcinogens, so if you eat a ham sandwich for lunch every day, switch to roasted vegetables or salad fillings.
- If you can't bear the thought of giving up meat for good, switch your evening meal to a vegetarian meal on Mondays. You can try a variety of vegetarian recipes until you have a half-dozen that you can rotate.
- Soups in the Winter: Stay warm this winter by eating a vegetable-based soup for lunch or dinner. You can't go wrong with soup, which is packed with chunky or pureed vegetables.
Make an effort to be adaptable and see what works best for you.
There are numerous reasons to eat more vegetables and less meat, as you can see. By substituting vegetables for meat, you will increase your vitamin and mineral intake, which has numerous health benefits. Choosing vegetables over meat has both financial and environmental advantages. However, there's no need to go all-in and become a strict vegetarian overnight. Slowly add more vegetarian meals to your diet and see how your body reacts to the extra vegetables.