I know a lot of girls (not many boys for some reason) who are vegetarians. Iíll admit I tried it myself for awhile, but a cheeseburger was my eventual undoing. I know that being vegetarian is very healthy and obviously helps keep your weight in check since youíre eating so many healthy foods. I also know that most people decide to become vegetarian because they donít believe in eating animals. Some vegetarians donít believe in using any animal products like milk, eggs or cheese either.
I am impressed by those who avoid meat for ethical reasons since they work so hard to follow their beliefs. I am curious, however, about how healthy most vegetarians are. It might just be me, but most of the people who claim to be vegetarians eat very few vegetables. Donít get me wrong, Iím a huge supporter of bread, dairy, fruits and sweets, and I eat my fair share of junk food as well.
Is Being a Vegetarian Healthy?
So how healthy is it to not eat meat? According to doctors and nutritionists, itís very healthy so long as youíre getting a proper balance of vitamin and nutrients. The main nutrients that are found in most meats are iron and protein. By eating specific ďreplacementĒ foods such as tofu and legumes (beans) you can get a lot of protein, and eating iron rich foods like spinach can help get that important nutrient, too.
Vegetables, fruit and dairy (if youíre eating it) have almost all the vitamins and nutrients you need, so cutting out meat isnít a bad thing. In fact with all the fat and growth hormones in a lot of meats, it can be very healthy. If youíve eliminated all dairy and egg products, youíll obviously have to work a bit harder to get all the right vitamins and nutrients, but it is still very possible. Bottom line: A good vegetarian diet is very healthy.
So what happens when your vegetarian diet isnít a ďgoodĒ one. The average person should be getting four or more servings of vegetables and fruit in addition to all the protein sources, starches, carbs and dairy foods every day. If you have an off day and only get two servings of fruits, itís not a big deal. However, if your particular brand of vegetarian means eating Doritos and Coke, there is a problem.
An occasional snack wonít hurt you, but eating junk instead of healthy food will, regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not. I know of girls who are thin, active and look great, but are actually malnourished.
They skip breakfast, eat a bag of chips and a Coke for lunch and maybe eat one or two servings of something relatively healthy for dinner. They snack on junk during the day and the few bites of good stuff arenít enough to make up the difference.
Being malnourished means your body is crying out for healthy food and it will show this by being sluggish. Youíll feel weak, tired, and grumpy a lot. We all have ups and downs with our diet, and believe me, Iím not perfect. Vegetarians have to be even more careful than the rest of us because theyíve chosen to eliminate foods that have a lot of nutritional value.
They have to work harder to be sure they are getting all the good stuff they need every day.
Like I said, I have a lot of respect for vegetarians Ė especially those who do it for their strong beliefs. I just feel strongly that if youíre going to be a vegetarian, you need to actually eat your vegetables.
Also consider this: Some of the biggest celebrities are vegetarians! Here is a list of some favorites who have cut out the meat and spoken out against animal cruelty: Paul McCartney, Alicia Silverstone, Kevin Eubanks, Carrie Underwood, Kristen Bell, Jared Leto, Fiona Apple, Joan Jett, Natalie Portman, Pamela Anderson, Pink, Vanessa Williams, Alec Baldwin, Moby, Alyssa Milano, Mos Def, Prince, Shannon Elizabeth, Russell Simmons, and many more.