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Side Effects of Being a Vegetarian

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Authored by Michelle Fairbrother in Nutrition
Published on 10-13-2009

People now have more choices than ever before and the same goes for eating habits and in particular whether or not they want to be a vegetarian. A vegetarian is someone who has chosen to refrain from eating meat and fish and in some cases all animal products altogether. This is a major life change. There are different explanations for why people choose to become a vegetarian. Some have a caring feeling for animals and do not feel right eating them while others find that meat is just too hard to digest and want to remove it from their diet for health reasons.

No matter what the reasons may be, becoming a vegetarian is a personal choice. There are certainly some very interesting benefits and risks that come from sustaining a vegetarian diet. It is important to take health and nutrition seriously and this means being aware of all the pros and cons of living a vegetarian lifestyle.

Besides being humane to animals and making a stand not to include them in the diet one of the main benefits of being a vegetarian is that the vegetarian diets are simply healthier than diets that include meat and animal products. They are much lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and this is a huge deal in terms of overall health. It is pretty easy to understand when you consider that a vegetarian diet does not include things like deep fried chicken fingers, greasy cheeseburgers, oil smeared sirloin steaks and fatty pork chops.

People often find it easier to maintain a healthy weight as well as normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels when they are on a vegetarian diet. Most vegetarians base their meals around fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grain breads and cereals. They are eating all the right things and combined with a proper exercise routine will therefore generally find it much easier to stay in shape.

Of course a vegetarian diet can also have its downfalls. For one thing people will often notice that they are lacking in protein. Meat is one of the most major sources of protein and so when that is gone it can be hard to make up for it. If the body is lacking protein what happens is that the body tissue will start to deteriorate. Protein is necessary for the building and repair of body tissues and as well there is its function as being one of the building blocks for muscle.

While making sure to include protein in the diet is very important this can be done while still maintaining a vegetarian diet. There are plenty of other ways besides from meat sources to provide the body with the protein that it needs to strive. Peanut butter, nuts, tofu and beans are all full of protein and will help to provide the body with the protein that it is lacking.

Another common problem with vegetarians is that they have a greater risk of iron deficiency. Red meats and liver are the highest sources of iron and so of course when these are not an option it can become difficult to decide how to supply the body with the iron that it needs. It is probably easiest to get a supplement and also be sure to include foods such as spinach and dried fruits into the diet.

A vegetarian diet can most certainly be fulfilling and nutritionally sound but it can take a bit of planning. Coming up with a meal plan is one of the best ideas and this is going to ensure that the vegetarian diet will include enough different foods to provide the body with the different vitamins and nutrients that it needs to be healthy.

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