Eating a vegetarian diet means that you are consuming the primary sources of nutrition, which have many health benefits. A vegan diet completely excludes all animal products, but some people may include fish, eggs, or dairy in their variety of vegetarianism. Whatever the reason for adopting a vegetarian diet, it does have many benefits.
1. High fiber content
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts contain soluble and insoluble fiber that enhance digestion, metabolism, and the movement of digested food through the intestines. Fiber also improves the elimination of waste and toxins out of the body, keeping the colon clean, and prevents many diseases of the digestive tract.
2. Lots of protein
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarian food contains protein. Some plant foods, such as soybeans, buckwheat, quinoa, and Quorn, are complete proteins (i.e., they contain all essential amino acids). The rest are not complete proteins but, by cleverly combining certain foods, consumers can obtain all the amino acids. Simple combinations such as brown rice and beans, hummus and pita bread, whole wheat bread and peanut butter, or spirulina with grains and nuts provide all the essential amino acids.
3. Many nutrients
A variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables provide proteins, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals, preventing the need for supplements. These prevent many diseases and enhance health.
4. Weight loss
A vegetarian diet can lead to weight loss if you reduce carbohydrate consumption. Many observational studies found that vegans are generally slimmer (have lower body mass indexes) than other people.
5. Improves mental health
There is a very close relationship between digestive health and mental health. Because the vegetarian diet leaves the digestive tract healthy and clean and provides many nutrients, it improves brain health and cognitive ability and prevents/relieves anxiety and depression.
6. Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
A vegetarian diet lowers blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50–78% compared to an omnivorous diet.
7. Protection against cancer
The World Health Organization declared that about ⅓ of all cancers could be prevented through diet. For example, regular consumption of legumes has been found to reduce risks of developing colorectal cancer by about 9–18%. Eating at least seven portions of fruits and vegetables per day may lower risks of cancer by up to 15%.
8. Prevention of heart disease
Fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fiber lowers the risk of heart disease. The vegetarian diet does not contain cholesterol, and this alone reduces the risk of heart disease. Unlike animal-based food, vegetarianism does not contain acids that contribute to acidosis; therefore, there is less risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
9. Better kidney health
Most plant-based foods are alkali producing in the body and are more gentle for the kidneys to handle than acids. This action prevents metabolic acidosis, and therefore avoids many chronic diseases and maintains kidney health.
10. Healthy skin and hair
The many vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and other phytonutrients improve skin and hair health. The improved elimination of waste and toxins due to high fiber also improves the health of hair and skin, making them glow.
These are some of the many benefits of a vegetarian diet. The increased intake of nutrients, the reduced consumption of metabolic harms, and the improved elimination of toxins and waste result in less illness and a longer life. Vegetarian meals have to be well-planned and varied to obtain the benefits of a wide variety of plant-based foods.