If you’ve gotten on board with ‘Veganuary’ this month and are thinking committing to the lifestyle for the rest of 2017, it’s worth knowing how abstaining from meat can affect your body.
From weight changes to nutrient deficiencies, these are the pros and cons of a meat-free diet.
You can lose weight
A study by the George Washington School of Medicine revealed that going green tends to lead to weight loss – even if shedding pounds wasn’t the original goal for going vegetarian. The average weight loss tracked by Neil Barnard, a professor of medicine at the university, was 7.5 pounds. And it isn’t the short-term weight loss associated with crash dieting either – the longer the study, the greater the loss, he concluded.
You’ll gain healthy bacteria in your gut
Indigestible carbohydrates in plant protein sources and other plant-based foods can alter the bacterial profile in your intestines, and researchers believe the new carbs can help boost the population of healthy bacteria in the gut. A 2014 study exploring the difference between the gut bacteria found in omnivores, vegans and vegetarians found differences in all three – particularly between omnivores and vegans, who don’t consume any animal products whatsoever. The downside is that it can take some time for your intestinal tract to adapt to your new diet, which can leave you feeling bloated in the first few months.
You can protect yourself from heart disease
Several studies involving more than 76,000 men have found that death from ischemic heart disease (caused by severe narrowing or closing of the coronary arteries) was 24 per cent lower in vegetarians than in carnivores—perhaps due in part to lower levels of inflammation. Scientists also recently found that red meat in particular is linked to heart disease. A study by the Lerner Research Institute in the US showed that carnitine contained in red meat, can trigger gut microbe reactions which contribute to the development of heart disease.