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Medically reviewed by
Constance Tambakis Odom, MD graduated in 1987 with her Doctorate of Medicine from the New York Medical College, and was an Anesthesiologist Resident from 1988 to 1991 at the Brookdale Medical Center PGY II (CA-I)-PGY IV (CA-III). She is Board Certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology since 1998 and American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 2002. Constance Odom, MD is affiliated with the American Medical Association, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, American Society of Anesthesiology, Georgia Society of Anesthesiology, Hellenic Medical Society of New York, North Carolina Society of Anesthesiology, and Society of Ambulatory Anesthesia.
Millions of people in the world have lived off of plant-placed diets with little to no meat, and some cultures, such as those in India, have done it for nearly as long as they've existed. While meat and it's easy supply of iron and protein certainly has its benefits, a vegetarian diet, or even one that's just mostly vegetarian, has its own.
A diet mostly or only fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and even meat substitutes like soy and tofu may cut your odds of getting diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes compared to a diet that includes a high amount of meat.
Plants overall are better sources in potassium than meat based foods. Known to stabilize blood pressure, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables contain enough potassium and vitamin B6 to help lower your blood pressure, and an unchecked blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease and even a stroke.
Plants don't even contain any cholesterol, and have been found to actually lower the amount of bad cholesterol in your body when eaten as the majority of your diet while keeping meats even as a secondary.
Studies have shown that adopting a plant based diet is often connected with consumption of fewer calories, and a lot more fiber. And, let's be honest, on a diet of steamed veggies, crisp salads, whole grains, handfuls of nuts and seeds, tofu, and bowls of fresh fruit; you'd have to eat way over your caloric intake to gain weight. And while it may not be pretty to think of, the extra fiber in these foods helps regulate blood sugar and facilitate digestion and elimination, keeping your intestines running better than they might on a diet loaded with meat.
One thing to remember is the fact that many people achieve these benefits without the complete elimination of meats. Simply adding more fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, and nuts in place of a salty snack or meat you would rather eat can be a benefit to your health.
If you do plan on going completely meatless, one thing you'll need to do is check with a dietitian to make sure you're getting the vitamins and nutrients you need. For example, you'll likely need to take a supplement or eat foods fortified with vitamin B12, which is found mostly in meats, if you want to cut out animal products totally. You'll also have to check on whether you're eating a diet balanced enough with all the iron, calcium, and zinc you need as well.
And, of course, you'll need to make sure you keep up your protein intake, especially if you compete athletically or just work out a lot. To get enough protein without meat, foods like favor beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa or tofu tend to do the trick, but no matter what stick with your doctor's guidelines about fat intake, calories, sugar, and salt. Because even on a meatless diet, it is possible to get too much of those.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.