Vegetarianism – yes or no?

Vegetarianism – yes or no?

There are several reasons to become a vegetarian. Every vegetarian has a different primary motivation for stopping eating meat. The most common reasons include, for example: sensitivity to animal suffering, the negative impact of meat consumption on the environment, health reasons but also religious reasons.


The term “vegetarian” comes from the Latin name “vegetare”, which means to revive. The first mention of vegetarianism comes from ancient Greece (6th century BC). Along with vegetarian nutrition, certain circles promoted moderation, a moral way of life, and purity of soul. They believed that the immortal soul of man could continue to exist in the body of various animals, so they did not allow the killing of animals for human consumption. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is considered to be the first known propagandist of vegetarianism. Many important personalities (Vinci, Gandhi, Einstein and others) ate vegetarian food. During the long evolution of civilization, the ideas and reasons why people chose to become vegetarians changed. However, ethical, health and environmental reasons have remained at the forefront of vegetarianism to this day.

Positive of vegetarianism

1.) A vegetarian diet brings less animal fat and cholesterol in the diet. The vegan diet does not contain cholesterol at all.

2.) Due to the lower energy density of plant foods, the content of energy consumed is usually also reduced.

3.) Increased intake of plant foods and limited intake of animal foods will reduce the intake of saturated fatty acids and, conversely, will increase the intake of unsaturated fatty acids.

4.) The intake of plant bioactive substances, phytonutrients, plant antioxidants and plant fiber is significantly higher. Crop bioactive substances (phytochemicals such as polyphenols, carotenoids, phytoestrogens, vitamins B, C, E and many others) are known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and other health benefits.

5.) A purely vegetarian diet usually has a lower salt intake, especially table salt (NaCl), but also hazardous smoke salts.

Due to its positive properties, a vegetarian diet is suitable as a prevention or dietary treatment for obesity, disorders of fat and cholesterol metabolism (hyperlipidemia), high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases based on hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. Higher intake of bioactive plant substances (phytochemicals) plays a positive role in cancer prevention. Vegetarians have a lower risk of developing malignancies (the most commonly mentioned is the prevention of colorectal cancer or breast and prostate cancer).

As a vegetarian, you will reduce your risk of developing diseases of civilization. A plant-based diet has a positive effect on the prevention but also the treatment of most diseases. Diseases often caused by poor diet include cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis and the like.

Vegetarianism has many health benefits. Weight loss in overweight is a common side effect of switching to vegetarian meals.

In what other diseases is vegetarianism beneficial?

These are, for example:

  • diseases of the bone and musculoskeletal system – consume beans, tofu cheese, soy milk, green beans, kale, broccoli – are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus
  • food allergies and intolerances – vegetarians can choose from a wide range of plant milks and products for lactose allergies
  • menopause – soy is a food naturally rich in phytoestrogens, substances that will help you better control the symptoms of menopause

Vegetarian diet and a longer life?

Several studies claim that switching to vegetarianism directly prolongs your life. Some sources state that an ordinary vegetarian lives up to 13 years longer than people who consume a lot of meat and animal products.

Evidence of these claims are, for example, the Japanese people of Okinawa. They are among the longest living people in the world. Their diet is based on plant bases, it is low in calories, they consume few refined sugars and meat, but they indulge in a lot of fruits, vegetables and soybeans. And so, the basis of their diet is a vegetarian diet.

More energy

Although not everyone will believe it from the beginning, a menu based on meatless meals will give you a quantum of energy. Meat and animal products slow down the metabolism, you feel tired after them, they spend longer. Therefore, as a vegetarian, you can feel a greater supply of energy from your diet.

Enough fiber

Vegetarians consume far more vegetables, so they get enough fiber. With a vegetarian diet, you will not find that your stool is not regular or you suffer from constipation.

Environmental impact

If you are interested in climate change and the changing environment of the Earth, vegetarianism is the right way. By reducing or completely eliminating meat, you can also contribute to the protection of the planet with your small (but necessary) part.

What not to forget when you become a vegetarian?

If you think that a vegetarian diet is healthy and beneficial in any form, you are wrong. As a vegetarian, you must follow certain dietary principles (so that your body lacks nothing).

A) Enough protein – Instead of meat, you have to consume its alternatives – soy, tofu, a lot of legumes, cereals such as. amaranth and eggs (unless you’re a vegan). You should get enough protein from these foods, even with a plant-based diet.

B) Zinc – Zinc is less well absorbed from plant foods than from animals. Therefore, the vegetarian must be careful to receive enough zinc, which is found in higher amounts in whole grain breads, legumes, nuts and cocoa.

C) Other vitamins and minerals – Nutritional supplements are also suitable. Vitamin B12 and iron are especially recommended for vegetarians. Other vitamins and minerals

The negative of vegetarianism

Improperly applied vegetarian diet or long-term strict vegan form can lead to insufficient intake of essential nutrients. Particularly endangered are groups of people at risk – infants and children, pregnant and lactating women, active and efficient athletes, hard-working physicians and the elderly.

The following are usually considered to be problematic nutrients in a vegetarian diet:

1.) Proteins – Vegetable proteins have a lower biological value than proteins of animal origin. Some amino acids, especially essential ones, are less prevalent in plants..

2.) Calcium – Calcium is important for the strength of bones and teeth. With its long-term deficiency, there is a risk of thinning bones – osteoporosis.

3.) Vitamin D – Vegans also have a lower intake of vitamin D.

4.) Iron – Although iron is found in plant food, it is present in a trivalent form, which is much more difficult to absorb. Only 1-8% of iron is absorbed from plant foods.

5.) Vitamin B12 – With a few exceptions, it is found only in animal food. This vitamin is important for the correct and sufficient production of red blood cells and for the prevention of anemia.

6.) Zinc, selenium, iodine

7.) Omega-3 fatty acids – They are important for the health of blood vessels and heart, during growth and also for the proper development of the brain, nerves and eyesight.

At the end

Even today, there is no uniform and unambiguous opinion among experts on the vegetarian diet. Most nutritionists think that mild forms of vegetarian diet can provide a sufficient amount of all nutrients without a real threat of nutritional deficiencies with careful and varied food choices. In this case, the positive aspects are at the forefront and vegetarianism may be a suitable form of healthy eating. Nevertheless, some doctors are cautious and do not recommend it for at-risk groups such as infants, children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, performance athletes and the elderly. The problem is not that such a diet would not be able to supply them with all the necessary nutrients, but that an optimal vegetarian diet requires a responsible approach, enough information, a lot of inspiration, a planned and varied menu. It is therefore not a suitable diet for people who “do not have time” and identify the vegetarian diet only with the simplistic one: “I will not eat meat!”

Veganism as a strict form of pure vegetarianism is really related to the problem of supplying problematic nutrients and to the risk of developing various forms of partial malnutrition (i.e. insufficient nutrition, lack of nutrients in food). Therefore, this strict diet is not recommended by most doctors for long-term nutrition, despite some of its undeniable health benefits. They consider it absolutely unsuitable for risk groups, especially infants, children, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Children breastfed by mothers – vegans are especially at risk.

If for some reason you don’t want to stop eating meat completely, go on a half-vegetarian journey, where you will eat meat, for example, only once a week. Reducing meat consumption also has a positive effect on your health and the environment.

Take an interest in the conditions under which the animals are kept and the ways in which they are slaughtered. If consumers reduce the demand for meat, its production will gradually decline.


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