Around 3-5% of people in the UK are vegetarian and the vast range of vegetarian recipes available to us makes it easier than ever before to convert. While many people opt to become veggie because they’re against animal cruelty or their religion demands it, the health benefits of leading a meat-free life are impressive.
Recipes for vegetarians aren’t necessarily lower in fat and salt but they’re often healthier all round, containing a lower amount of saturated fat and cholesterol and a higher amount of fibre, follates, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Vegetarian dishes are also free from any hormones and drugs found in some meat products, though try to buy organic veg if you can to avoid eating plants treated with pesticides.
You’re much less prone to food poisoning from plant foods than seafood, fish or meat, or suffer from allergies to common triggers such as seafood – or if you’re vegan to eggs and dairy. Vegetarians are also significantly better protected against breast and colon cancer and there are lower rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in this group. If you suffer from kidney disease or arthritis, or are going through the menopause, a vegetarian diet has been shown to alleviate symptoms.
Vegetarians also tend to have hardier immune systems, more energy, and the potential to live up to 10 years longer than their meat-guzzling contemporaries!
If you decide to follow a vegetarian diet be informed. If your new diet isn’t balanced, your health could be affected. Getting enough protein, essential fats, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D is essential. Aside from fruit and veg the staples of a vegetarian diet include soya, dairy, grains, cereals, beans, nuts and seeds.