Why would anyone want to stop eating meat?
It’s a good question, and more and more people are asking it these days. On the other hand, you may wonder what all the fuss is about, particularly if you’ve soaked up even some of the advertising out there that portrays meat as something vitally delicious.
So should you be a vegetarian?
Sure, vegetarians get lumped into this category of people who are missing out on all the fun. But is that really true? Well, it depends on your definition of fun. Do you see fun as living a long and healthy life? Do you see it as having a positive impact on the world around you?
If so, a vegetarian diet just might be the way to go. Maybe you’ll be happier and healthier if you stop eating meat. (1)
Let’s dive into the specifics.
8 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat
1. You Protect The Environment
According to Smithsonian researchers, the equivalent of seven football fields of wildlife was razed every single minute, in part to make room for domestic agriculture, including farm animals. Further, with the domestication of the land come problems with maintaining the environment, especially with meat farming operations. (2)
In addition, because of the impact on waterways, as well as over-fishing, experts say our oceans may be devoid of fish by 2048. Clearly, this will have a tremendous impact on marine life and the many ecosystems that depend on fish. (3)
And all because we love our meat.
2. Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Goes Down
So according to medical trends since 1988, nearly 40% of all people in the United States are pre-diabetic. Combine this with the fact that the US also ranks high on the list of countries that eat the most meat. (4, 5)
Coincidence? Nope. (6)
In fact, several studies have shown that eating meat more than doubles your chance of getting type 2 diabetes. A vegetarian diet, on the other hand, helps control many factors of diabetes, weight in particular. (7)
3. You Will Get The Right Type of Protein
When you decide to stop eating meat, you may worry about your protein intake. Will you get enough of the “right” protein? Most people remember from school that we need to eat 9 essential amino acids (that’s protein!), but most of those people think they need to eat meat to get them.
Well, the truth is you can get the protein you need from eating the right foods.
While it is a real possibility that a person doesn’t get the right protein from a carefully crafted vegetarian diet, it’s also true that eating too much meat leads to problems, too. Eating too much protein isn’t good either. (8)
This may surprise you – excess protein gets turned into fat, which of course leads to a number of concerns, including heart disease and cancer. The solution? Go vegetarian! But do it the right way. Eat plenty of high-protein plant foods, like oatmeal, beans and almonds. All your protein should amount to is 10% of your total calorie intake. (9)
4. You’ll Reduce Inflammation
Eating lots of meat causes inflammation throughout your body. In fact, many lifestyle factors contribute to long-term inflammation. Sure, we know that acute inflammation can be the right reaction to a problem, like the swelling caused by a bee sting. But long-term, chronic inflammation creates a cascade of problems that can eventually lead to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. (10)
A proper vegetarian diet, on the other hand, will naturally reduce inflammation by lowering your body’s levels of C-reactive protein. (11)
5. Your Bad Cholesterol Levels Go Down
Sorry to say, but processed meats (hot dogs, burgers, etc) contain a high percentage of saturated fat. And eating too much saturated fat will cause a spike in your LDL cholesterol levels. That’s a major risk factor for heart disease, the number one killer in America. (12)
Also, studies have shown that switching to a vegetarian diet lowers your LDL cholesterol levels at a rate comparable to that of cholesterol medications. (13)
6. Your Gut Will Love You
Did you know you have a second brain in your gut? Seriously, your gut contains an incredible network of neurons that affect your mood and even your food choices. And that delicate balance of microbes in your gut – your microbiome – relies on you to eat the right foods for them. (14)
Eating lots of meat and dairy quickly makes some major changes to your gut by altering the balance of microbes responsible for gut health. In turn, this can lead to inflammation and intestinal diseases that’ll leave you feeling quite miserable. According to the Harvard scientists who discovered this, switching to a plant-based diet will restore and maintain proper balance to your gut. (15)
7. You’ll Live Longer
Based on the findings above, it may be obvious that vegetarians live longer overall. But some may still disagree with you. Because “correlation is not causation,” the jury is still out, but evidence certainly points to a longer, stronger life for vegetarians. (16) For example, thanks to the many health-boosting benefits of a good vegetarian diet, vegetarians do show a 12% lower risk of dying than frequent meat-eaters. That equates to about a 6-9 year gap. (17)
You can’t argue with that, can you?
8. You’ll Change Your DNA For The Better
Perhaps underlying all of the above, researchers have found that a vegetarian diet also helps with cancer prevention. As part of that research, one study looked at telomere length, diet, and cancer risk. In fact, a plant-based diet lengthens your telomeres, the caps at the end of your DNA chromosomes that typically shorten as you age. Also, a vegetarian diet significantly decreases the expression of cancer genes. (18, 19)
Do you think you’re ready to stop eating meat?
Thinking of going vegetarian but don’t quite know where to start? Take it slow. You don’t need to go cold turkey. As we suggest in this article, you might want to start by eating meat only once or twice weekly. When you do, make sure you’re buying local, organic, and hormone-free meat. Even reduced levels of meat consumption can have major benefits for your health!