Eating healthy is a choice and there are many options out there whether you choose to be vegetarian, vegan or eat healthy lean meat. Here we will discuss the benefits of both meat based diets and a vegan diet so you can make your own choice on which way of life is best for you.
A vegan is someone who avoids all meat and meat by products focusing their entire diet on vegetarian foods. However, unlike vegetarians, vegans will also avoid dairy, eggs, honey and won’t wear leather. Thought to be quite healthy, the vegan diet consists only of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and bean. Even though the diet is mostly healthy it is important to consider a balanced diet and ensure that you are giving your body everything it needs including the right amount of protein. Without eating meat regularly you’ll need to get your protein from other sources. High protein grains include quinoa and amaranth but you can also get protein from tofu and lentils. Calcium may also be lacking in vegan diets but can be obtained through eating leafy greens, legumes and soy.
If you are just starting out on a vegetarian or vegan diet buy a good cook book or go online to get some recipes. Don’t start blind or try to make up a meal plan. You will soon get bored and lose interest. Ease into a vegan diet by introducing certain foods slowly, then incorporate more vegan recipes into your meals. Eventually you’ll be able to cut meat out all together.
There are many benefits to following a vegan diet. One is that this type of diet can lower blood sugar levels which is beneficial to those with diabetes or those at risk of diabetes. Along with exercise, a vegan diet can help in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. By increasing your fruit and vegetable intake you increase the good carbohydrates that you’re putting into your body. This will improve your energy levels to get you through the day without the crash you get by eating other carbs like bread or pasta. A vegan diet can also help prevent heart disease. Some also believe that a vegan diet is better for the environment because it doesn’t support mass livestock farming.
A traditional meat based diet can also be healthy if lean protein sources are chosen like chicken, turkey, lean red meat, fish and eggs. Although eggs are often thought to be high in cholesterol they do more good than bad in the body. In fact, they contain an enzyme that helps cholesterol flow more easily through the body instead of binding to the walls and plugging the arteries.
Meat is a primary source of protein needed to build muscle. You’ll eat less meat to get the amount of protein needed than the vegetable or plant based proteins. Meat also contains the amino acids that our bodies need to build and keep its muscular strength. Choosing the right type of meat is important to ensure that you are getting the proper fats needed to sustain the body, like fatty acids. You can supplement your diet by adding fatty acids from other sources but the absorption rate is not the same as when it comes directly from a meat source. Meat also contains vitamins and minerals like B12, B6 and iron.
The protein found in meat is needed to balance the carbohydrates consumed and to give the body energy. To get the most of your meat based diet avoid processed meats or heavily processed food of any kind. Stick with butcher cut, organic meat if possible and always prepare food fresh instead of relying on frozen or fast food. Also if you remove the outer fat during preparation you leave the lean meat which is high in nutritional value. Red meat helps the immune system produce the antibodies needed when fighting disease. Zinc, also found in meat, helps strengthen the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. In terms of cholesterol, the good fat found in beef and lamb can help to lower the bad cholesterol in the body.
Whether choosing a traditional diet or a vegan diet it’s always important to know exactly what your body needs and how you can get it. A diet is what you make of it and either one can be healthy or unhealthy. Don’t forget to include exercise as a part of your healthy lifestyle.