Having recently become a vegetarian, I know it can be difficult to change your eating habits. But I also know that once you've made new habits, it becomes second nature to say "no thank you" to the ham at Easter dinner, or to get sofritas (beyond delicious, might I add) in your burrito bowl instead of chicken when at Chipotle. I know that by consciously making the effort to eat fewer animal products, I am doing a huge favor for both my body and the earth. Although becoming a plant-based eater has its challenges at first, the benefits are spectacular and totally worth the change. Here's why you should start to lean into the veg way of living!
1. You will lose weight, effortlessly.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains: all low-fat, high-fiber foods. When you eat fiber, you feel fuller longer. The carbohydrates that are found in whole grains are slowly digested and absorbed to keep you from getting that "sugar high" followed by the "crash" that happens when you eat processed carbs and junk foods. More steady glucose absorption will prevent you from wanting to go back for another handful of those Doritos, and instead, keep you satisfied.
A gram of fat has 9 calories. A gram of carbs has 4. When you avoid fatty foods, you avoid a boat-load of unnecessary calories, creating effortless weight maintenance or weight loss.
2. You will inadvertently become a "clean" eater.
Believe it or not, your body will adapt to eating foods that are meant to be eaten. Eliminate the refined and processed foods from your life (we're talking anything that comes in a package) or at least try to wean yourself off of them and keep processed treats to a minimum. When you start to eat more whole foods that come from the ground (or a tree), your body will begin to crave them, and you can avoid chemicals, additives, and preservatives found in many food-like products.
3. You will lower your risk for developing many diseases.
Just by making the small adjustment to a vegetarian diet, you can reduce your chance of getting cancer by 40%, heart disease by 50%, and diabetes by 60%.
Fruits and veggies contain tons of cancer-fighting antioxidant vitamins. Fiber from whole grain foods prevents blood sugar spikes, and keeps your body from developing the signature diabetes symptom of insulin-deficiency. A diet low in fat keeps your arteries healthy, and cuts the odds in half that you will develop heart disease.
4. You will do your part in saving the world.
I don't even want to get started on how bad the meat and dairy industries are for the environment. I will simply say, that by even becoming a vegetarian you will be doing your part to make the world a better place, and leave you with these hard-hitting facts.
• Livestock produce 60 times more excrement every year than the world's human population. Now that's literally a load of crap!
• The amount of water used to hydrate livestock and irrigate their feed (240 trillion gallons per day!) is the same amount used every day in Europe, Africa, and South American combined.
• Livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. 18%!
• It take more than 10 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein than it does to make one calorie of plant protein.
Save our resources, go green!
Factual information is accredited to Kathy Freston's book Veganist.
I also highly recommend watching "Forks Over Knives" (on Netflix) for more information.