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Pros and Cons of Vegetarians


                    Pros and Cons of Vegetarians

Most recent studies show more people are shifting to plant based foods i.e. becoming vegetarians. There may be  many reasons for this but this depends on individuals also . Some of the common easons are - health issues , religious issues , animal friendly concern , concerns about excessive use of environmental resources , avoiding hormones present in animal foods  etc. 

Becoming a vegetarian is easier nowadays with more dining options . Earlier it was thought that plant based foods lack required nutritional values but recent research shows plant based foods too have not only enough nutritional values but they help in controlling / preventing some diseases also .  

There are mainly 4 different types of vegetarian -

Lacto Ovo vegetarians - those who eat both eggs and dairy products 
Lacto vegetarians - those who eat dairy products but don’t eat  eggs 
Ovo vegetarians - those who eat  eggs but no  dairy products 
Vegans - Those who don’t use animal products , honey ,eggs and dairy products 

Partial Vegetarians - They may not consume meat but do eat fish and / or eggs .

Lastly some may be Flexitarians- They eat a semi vegetarian or flexitarian diet. They eat mostly plant based foods but they might occasionally eat meat , eggs , fish and poultry products in small quantities . 

Pros and Cons of Vegetarians - 

Pros - 

1 . Good for Heart - Compared to non vegetarians vegetarians are one third likely to be exposed to heart disease and hospitalization  . But at the same time their diet should contain fiber, whole grains , legumes , vegetables , fruits ,nuts and a low sugar diet .

2 . Less Risk of Cancer - Research has shown that vegetarian diet reduces risk of cancer in general besides some specific types of cancer that happen with animal products .

3. Lowers Blood Pressure - Research has shown that vegetarians have less Blood Pressure issues as compared to nonvegetarians . Plant based foods  are very low in fats , sodium and cholesterol which have control over our BP . Also fruits and vegetables have potassium which can lower our BP.   

4. Prevents Type2 Diabetes -  Vegetarian foods like whole grains , legumes and nuts are low in sugar . Studies have proved that vegetarians have half risk of type 2 Diabetes as compared with non vegetarians . 

5 . Less Risk of Asthma -Swedish researchers have found that vegetarians, especially vegans have significantly less exposure to Asthma . It was seen that certain animal foods can cause allergy and / or inflammations which might  lead to  Asthma .

6 . Good Bone Health - It has been seen that some animal products may force Calcium out of the human body . This can cause bone loss and Osteoporosis . Vegetarians, especially vegans should take  Calcium rich dairy products for their bone health .

7 . Better Weight loss - Vegetarians consume less calories than non vegetarians so usually  they weigh less . 

8. More Fiber - Vegetarians consume more  whole grains , vegetables and fruits and so they have a good amount of fiber in their diet . They have better gut health and less constipation issues . 

9 . Better Vision - Vegetarians eat  Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin A like carrots , spinach ,grapes , corn , kiwi , kale etc . This is very good for vision . 

10. Skin care - some animal foods are rich in saturated fat which can clog pores which is bad for skin . Besides some vitamins and pigments in fruits and vegetables are good for skin care , e.g. Lycopene in tomatoes protects from sun damage , vitamin C is good for skin as it stimulates production of Collagen. 

Vegetarian diets are good for health but there is other side of the coin also -

Consuming processed vegetarian foods like sodas , cookies , chips, common chocolates etc  is too bad for health as some are rich in sodium , some are rich in sugar and some are rich in fats  . So if going out for food , selection should be made carefully .

Risk of  Nutritional Deficiency - Some  vegetarian foods lack vital vitamins and minerals like Calcium Iron ,  vitamin D , B12 and  Omega 3 fatty acid . As such vegetarian diets should be carefully chosen e.g.
 For Iron - eggs , soy , spinach , beans . fortified cereals etc .

For Calcium - Fortified cereals , milk , tofu , almonds , beans , broccoli etc. 

For Vitamin D- Mushrooms , fortified milks and exposure to sun .

For B12 - dairy milk , soy milk , egg , yeast , fortified cereals etc. 

For Omega 3 fatty acid  - Flaxseeds , hemp seeds , walnuts etc.

Bottomline - Vegetarian diets are healthier than nonvegetarian diets only when carefully selected to get the proper amount of protein , vitamins and minerals essential for our health  depending upon an individual's age and/ or gender .