Going vegetarian or not is ultimately a personal choice – there are advantages and disadvantages to a vegetarian diet, but there are many factors that might influence someone into giving up meat.
Whether it’s factory farming practices, spiritual beliefs, or just a desire to eat healthier that’s motivating you to go vegetarian, here’s some things you can expect when you change your diet to exclude meat:
1. You Might Lose Weight
Some people lose weight when they first start eating a vegetarian diet, due to getting their protein from lower-calorie sources like tofu, tempeh, and other veggie products.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that going vegetarian lead to an average weight loss of 7.5 pounds. And the longer the study, the greater the loss.
2. You’ll Gain New Bacteria In Your Gut
Our guts are constantly affected by what we eat. When you change your diet significantly, it changes the makeup of the bacteria in your gut – which can effect everything from your weight to your mental health. Researchers believe that eating more veggies can boost the population of healthy bacteria in the gut.
You may feel bloated at first or experience indigestion – these are common side effects of sudden drastic diet changes, so try transitioning to a vegetarian diet slowly rather than all at once.
3. You’ll Improve Your Heart Health
“Vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers and total mortality,” one study concludes(2). And the reason for that is because plant-based diets are anti-inflammatory.
4. Your Sense Of Taste May Be Dulled
New vegetarians in particular need to make a special effort to get enough zinc – a heavy lifter which can affect many functions of your body, including your sense of taste. Beans and other legumes can interfere with the body’s absorption of zinc, which is found in nuts, whole grains, and dairy products, meaning that people who supplement their diets with bean-based protein sources like tofu need to pay extra attention to their zinc levels(3).
5. You May Need Longer To Recover After A Workout
Your body takes a little bit longer to process plant-based protein than it does animal-based proteins – meaning that vegetarian and vegan athletes may need extra post-workout recovery time. Getting post-workout protein from smoothies can help. Since liquids are absorbed more quickly into the body than solids.
6. You May Need To Supplement Your Diet With Multivitamins
Many vegetarians struggle with getting enough iron and other minerals in their diets. Between that and the zinc deficiency mentioned above, it might be a good idea for new vegetarians to invest in some quality multivitamins and mineral supplements – at least until you master the art of vegetarian cooking.