Are you thinking about going meatless (or at least cutting way back on your meat consumption)? If so, you may have some questions about this way of eating and how it can benefit you. For many people, the initial switch to a meatless diet is a bit challenging. After all, you have to learn how to cook differently and get all the macronutrients you need from meatless meals.
But once you get the hang of it, you’ll soon understand why so many people choose to eat little to no meat in a time when the meat industry is larger and more pervasive than it’s ever been before. Here are some of the top benefits of ditching your meat-eating habit.
Lower Risk of Certain Diseases
Meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of certain diseases and health conditions, including:
Diabetes (type 2)
High blood pressure
Many types of cancer
Meat is often high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Both of these components are at least partially responsible for poor heart health. By cutting back on meat products, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing the diseases and health conditions listed above.
Improved Weight Management
People who cut back on meat often discover that it becomes easier to manage a healthy weight or to lose stubborn excess pounds. This may be partially because meatless or low-meat diets are associated with improved insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that can hinder your weight-loss efforts when it is imbalanced in the body.
Another potential reason why meatless diets can lead to weight loss is that eating a more plant-based diet tends to result in a higher intake of fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients that nourish the body and help it perform more efficiently. Those who eat meatless or low-meat diets also tend to consume fewer calories overall than those who eat a lot of meat.
Improved Gut Health
Since meatless diets tend to be higher in nutrient-rich whole foods, they tend to be great for gut health. The beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract feed off of the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols within plant foods may also help to improve gut health.
If you’re struggling with frequent abdominal discomfort, bloating, acid reflux, and other conditions associated with poor gut health, you may want to try an experiment. Cut back on meats or eliminate them from your diet for a while and increase your intake of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. See if the change leads to reduced gut discomfort.
Tips for Eating Less Meat
If you’re a meat-eater but want to make a change, keep in mind that implementing new dietary practices may be challenging at first. Here are some tips to help you reduce your meat intake, starting today:
Try protein sources that are plant-based (such as nut butters, beans, lentils, and soy-based products. Substitute meat with these vegetable-based sources of protein in your meals.
Get excited about trying new foods. There are many people who have never even tasted quinoa or black-eyed peas. And yet, these nutrition-packed foods actually have great flavor when they’re prepared properly. Don’t be afraid to try new foods. Instead, view it as an adventure!
Swap red meat with white meat. Red meat is associated with a variety of diseases and illnesses, but white meat is generally considered better for you. When you’re first reducing your meat intake, you may wish to start by simply swapping your favorite red-meat dishes with turkey, chicken, seafood or other lean white meats.
Some people find it easier to quit meat cold-turkey (no pun intended), while others have greater success taking small steps toward eating a meat-free diet. Do what works best for you and have fun on your journey to greater health!