There’s nothing like a nice, thick, juicy t-bone steak, cooked to perfection on a grill. Nothing marks the beginning of summer quite like it! In fact, we had amazing steaks for my wife’s birthday. And if I do say so myself, they were delicious!
But it’s amazing how in the past couple of decades, an unspoken war against meat has taken place (or maybe it isn’t THAT unspoken if you follow social media). With the advent of all the new fitness and nutritional trends that have hit our societies in recent years, there’s been a push in favour of vegetarians and vegans.
Before I get too far into the fray, we should start by examining what the differences are between vegan and vegetarian.
A Vegetarian is defined as someone who does not eat meat, sometimes for moral or religious reasons, but most often for health reasons.
A Vegan is defined as someone who does not use or consume ANY animal product. This means that things like milk and cheese are off the menu as well. For the sake of this post, I’ll mostly stick to the term vegetarian.
So what are humans MEANT to eat? The reality is that most medical professionals agree that the human body is designed to be omnivorous. This means that we are designed to consume meat AND vegetables. Sorry to break it to you, vegetarians… Humans can and should eat meat.
According to an article published in Medical News Today, part of what allowed humans to gain an evolutionary advantage in prehistoric times may have been their consumption of meat. The increased amount of protein and energy may have been what contributed to the evolution of our complex brains and our overall evolution. And it is important to note that evolution takes place over hundreds of thousands of years. So we can’t turn back the clock on our bodies simply by cutting out meat.
A vegetarian diet can lend a certain number of health benefits. There have been studies linking a vegetarian diet to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A vegetarian diet also contains higher levels of fibre and less fat.
Vegans are a bit more on the controversial side, as some studies have shown that being a vegan can actually be LESS healthy than a diet including meat. Although a vegan diet can also involve reducing certain cardiovascular risks and may contribute to a certain level of weight loss, a vegan diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12, which is usually found in eggs, fish and meat and is required for proper cell health.
According to an article posted by Independent, “A study conducted by the Medical University in Graz in Austria found that the vegetarian diet, as characterized by a low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products, appeared to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.” Definite food for thought (see what I did there?) Here’s that article: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vegetarians-are-less-healthy-and-have-a-lower-quality-of-life-than-meateaters-scientists-say-9236340.html
Before I close up, let’s examine this from a Diabetes perspective. Some studies have shown that a vegetarian diet can help better manage Type 1 Diabetes and in some cases, can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Since being vegetarian can help control weight and blood sugar levels as well as increase the body’s insulin response, it can certainly be helpful (as much as it breaks my heart to says so).
Any change in diet should definitely be done in consultation with your health practitioner and a qualified dietitian. As cute and trendy as being vegetarian or vegan sounds, there are a number of supplements and lifestyle changes you’ll have to make to allow this diet to work for you.
Bottom line is that the average person should be consuming small amounts of meat in combination with plenty of healthy vegetables and some carbohydrates. Also, meats such as poultry or fish are much better for you than red meat.
And last but not least, all of this is a lifestyle choice. Although some people are forced to be vegetarian due to health concerns, the vast majority CHOOSE to do so. And respecting someone’s choice is important. There are demonstrated benefits to both diets, so do everyone a solid and follow the simple idiom, You do you, and let me do me… Meaning that no one needs to hear that they’re murderers simply for consuming meat. ☯