If You Can’t Be Vegetarian, Here’s How You Can Still Reap Some Of The Benefits
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D.,Founder
According to a recent survey, 23 percent of Americans are eating more plant-based foods. And this may have to do with COVID-19.
“One of the survey's highlights shows the realization among the public of the power of plant-based foods to help create a healthier immune system, have more energy, lower blood pressure, and be generally healthier, which people are putting a premium on right now,” according to one report discussing the survey.
“When asked about their food habits, 23% of those surveyed said they were now eating more plant-based meals due to the current health crisis, almost double the 11 percent who said they were eating more meat.”
In case you need a refresher, a vegan is someone who eats absolutely no food dervied from animals. This includes meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin and even honey. A vegetarian does not eat meat or fish, however, may eat what are called ‘secondary animal products.’ These products include eggs, milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products.
And, recently, researchers in Germany found evidence from a large-scale study which showed that vegetarians have lower body weights compared to meat eaters.
“It was found that the rarer the proportion of animal food in a person's diet, the lower their body mass index (BMI) on average and thus their body weight,” according to one report discussing the study.
“One reason for this could be the lower proportion of heavily processed foods in the plant diet.”
Processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods, tend to be nutrient-void and high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. To be clear, there are vegetarian foods that can be processed. For example, canned vegetables with added salt and sugar-coated dried fruits may be vegetarian but are certainly processed.
But vegetarians may be less likely to eat processed foods, because they may feel fuller from following a vegetarian diet. We tend to crave processed foods when we don’t feel full and satisfied.
“Products that are excessively rich in fat and sugar are particularly fattening. They stimulate the appetite and delay the feeling of satiety. If you avoid animal foods, you consume fewer such products on average," says one of the main authors of the study.
“In addition: Vegetarian food contains dietary fibers and has a positive effect on the microbiome in the intestine. This is another reason why they could fill you up earlier than those made from animal ingredients,” according to the report.Vegetarians are also more introverted?
Interestingly, researchers of the study also saw that vegetarians tended to me more introverted. More research is needed, however, "It could be because more introverted people tend to have more restrictive eating habits or because they are more socially segregated because of their eating habits."
This is just speculation. But nowadays, the world is really open to accommodating different diets. Think about it. Most people don’t have issues going to restaurants and asking for something vegan or gluten-free.
So, is it best to be vegetarian?
It really depends on the person. What may work for you may not work for your spouse, friend or children. It is always best to seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional when it comes to tailoring a diet specifically to you. I would also recommend taking an allergy and food sensitivity test in order to definitively determine if you are sensitive to certain foods such as gluten and dairy.
No matter what diet you follow, including more natural, plant foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables is definitely the way to go. It might even be a good idea to go meatless at least once a week. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy body weight, if you go meatless just one day a week you may reduce your risk of certain diseases including cancer and heart disease. Think of it as being a part-time vegetarian.
For meat-free meal ideas and recipes, check out these pH Labs blogs.
Watch out for secondary animal products.
In moderation these foods may be okay for you. The problem is that much of the food that we eat outside of our homes is cooked in butter. So if you are eating out, it never hurts to see if the dish you want can be made without butter. Usually it can!
And when cooking at home, there are many alternatives to butter that you can use for cooking. Go for olive oil, avocado oil or even almond oil. Now is the time to get creative in the kitchen. There are also so many plant-based milks to choose from such as almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk and soy milk.
Finally, do your best to steer clear of processed foods. That means chips, donuts and pretty much anything in the snack and candy aisle at the grocery store. If you have a sweet tooth, try making these sweet potato brownies.
Eating less animal products and processed foods may feel like a huge sacrifice, but you will be improving your health by eating more plants and natural foods.
Healthy food is medicine.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.