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What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Eating Meat? Tips To Reduce Meat Consumption

Several debates are going on regarding which is best: eating meat or not eating it. Considering that more than half of the world's population is non-vegetarian, it is no surprise that there are many meat-based dishes.

Giving up a non-vegetarian diet and adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can be arduous - however, not impossible. Going vegan or vegetarian has a plethora of health benefits, from reduced risk of heart diseases to type 2 diabetes; the number goes on [1][2]. Choosing a different diet is not difficult; of course, changing your diet and avoiding your regular foods can be time-consuming, but the benefits you reap are enormous.

Today, we will look at some of the health benefits of skipping meat altogether or reducing meat consumption.


Benefits Of Reducing Meat Consumption

The benefits of reducing or stopping meat consumption are both physical and emotional [3][4]. Several studies have linked dietary cholesterol and saturated fat to cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat is present in all meats and fish, while a vegetarian or a vegan diet does not pose as much risk to the cholesterol levels and is low in saturated fat [5].

A meat-based diet is believed to be rich in proteins and other nutrients, but along with it comes certain negative effects as well. While adding meat to your diet and consuming it occasionally wouldn't impact health much, consuming too much meat without a proper balance between vegetables is not a healthy road to take.

When we say meat consumption, we are primarily focusing on red meat such as beef, lamb and mutton, pork, veal, venison, goat etc.

Here, we have listed what happens when you don't eat meat. Read further to know the changes that take place in your body when you don't eat or reduce meat consumption.


1. Reduced Acidity

Studies point out that meat-based food products could stimulate the production of acids in your stomach, which may lead to ailments such as excess acidity, heartburn, headache, stomach pain, etc. At the same time, a plant-based diet is known to counteract the acid production in your stomach [6].

2. Weight Loss

According to studies, when meat-eaters completely switched over to a plant-based diet, their weights dropped considerably (in a healthy manner) without much effort [7][8]. So, if you are struggling to lose a few pounds, eliminating meat from your diet could prove to be beneficial. Also, people who eat plant-based diets tend to consume fewer calories and less fat.


3. Healthier Gut

Compared to non-vegetarians, people who live on plant-based diets have cleaner digestive tracks [9]. A vegetarian diet helps in promoting the growth of healthy bacteria, which line the intestines and prevent certain digestive disorders, whereas meat-based diets may harm the intestines due to the preservatives and hormones used in the animal products.

4. Reduced Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that the risk of type 2 diabetes is a lot more in meat-eaters when compared to vegetarians [10]. This is linked to the hormones found in meat and the iron and nitrate content present, especially in red meat.

5. Reduced Blood Cholesterol

Meat-based foods are very high in saturated fat content, which is known to increase the cholesterol levels in the blood [11]. When the blood has increased levels of cholesterol, it may lead to serious conditions such as obesity, stroke, heart diseases, etc.


6. Reduced Risk Of Infections

Experts opine that giving up on non-vegetarian foods can reduce infections and inflammations that occur in our bodies. If the animal has certain infections, it may directly get transferred to the human body after the consumption of its meat. A purely plant-based diet is also known to reduce inflammation and sores more effectively [12].

7. Healthier Genes

A solely plant-based diet is said to construct a healthier DNA or genetic makeup [13]. The antioxidants and nutrients found in vegetables can also help repair DNA damage and reduce the production of cancerous cells. Also, a plant-based diet aids the tissues to age slower, thereby keeping one feeling youthful.

8. Improved Skin Health

Studies have shown that the hormones injected into animals prior to the consumption might affect the human skin by causing conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, etc. Switching to a vegetarian diet may help in giving you healthier skin, as vegetables are rich in antioxidants and fibre [14].


9. More Energy

One of the important things that people notice when they stop eating meat is that they feel less tired during the day. A diet devoid of meat helps you get rid of weight and toxins and gives you a feeling of being lightweight and energetic.

10. May Reduce Risk Of Heart Problems

A plethora of studies has explored the benefit of skipping meat on heart health [15]. It has been proven that saturated fat consumption, primarily found in meat and animal products, and an increased risk of heart disease.

11. May Reduce Cancer Risk

Limiting red meat, especially bacon, hot dogs, and other smoked or cured meats, may help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer [16]. Regular consumption of red meat has also been associated with an increased risk of other cancers, including breast cancer.


Things To Keep In Mind While Reducing/Quitting Meat Consumption

  • When you stop eating meat, you may experience deficiencies of iodine, iron, vitamin D and B12. Hence, talk to a doctor or a dietician and discuss supplements [17].
  • Zinc is an essential element responsible for taste sensations. There is a high amount of zinc found in red meat and oysters, and a lack of zinc in the diet has been shown to cause a loss of sense of taste [18].
  • Proteins are essential for muscular strengthening and recovery after a workout. Turning vegetarian/vegan can cause the muscles to take more time to recover [19]. Plant proteins need more time to start working, and especially in the case of people who regularly work out or are in sports, they will need to plan out protein substitution.

Ways To Reduce Meat Consumption

  • Include more nuts and seeds in your diet.
  • Swap the red meat with chicken or fish and eventually swap those with veggies.
  • Add more grains and vegetables when cooking meat (reducing the amount of meat).
  • Consider plant-based meats.
  • Make one day a week completely meat-free, for example, meat-free Mondays.
  • Buy a vegetarian/vegan cookbook and make it a habit to try out new recipes [20].
  • Educate yourself about meat consumption.
  • You don't have to stop eating meat one fine day; take your time - learn about the benefits and go about it one day at a time. It is not only beneficial for you but also for the environment.


On A Final Note…

Cutting back on meat and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help with healthy weight loss, improved heart health, and may even protect against certain cancers.

This article does not discriminate against any individual's lifestyle or eating habits and is entirely developed to highlight facts.

Story first published: Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 15:38 [IST]
Read more about: vegetarian diet no meat meat