What kind of vegetarian do you want to be?
The pros of plants
Some people choose a vegetarian diet for religious, ethical or environmental reasons. But most become vegetarians because they want to be healthier. Vegetarians have lower rates of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and non–insulin–dependent diabetes. A study of nearly 2,000 vegetarians and part–time vegetarians conducted by German cancer researchers found eating little or no meat cut death rates from heart and circulatory disease in half and deaths from cancer by 25 to 50 percent. Vegetarians are also less likely to have gallstones, kidney stones and constipation and they weigh less on average.
Filling your nutritional bill
The more you restrict your diet, the more difficult it is to get all the nutrients you need. A vegan diet, for example, eliminates food sources of vitamin B–12 and some of the best sources of calcium. Other nutrients, such as vitamin D and zinc, are available in a meatless diet, but you’ll need to make a special effort to make sure they’re in yours. Growing children, pregnant or breast–feeding women, older people and those who’ve been ill should proceed with caution when considering a vegetarian diet because of their special nutritional needs.
The vegetarian starting block
Scraping the meat off your plate and eating what’s left is not the healthy way to go vegetarian. You’re likely to be hungry afterward–and you’re shortchanging yourself nutritionally.