Is it healthier to follow a vegetarian diet? Here's what five experts said

VThe egarism is on the rise, as many vegetarians will tell you with pleasure. Although many people who reject meat products do so for the good of animals and the environment, we are beginning to learn more about the harmful effects of meat on health and the benefits of a diet-based diet. of plants.

Four out of five experts said yes.

We asked five experts if a vegetarian diet is healthier. Here are their detailed answers.

Amelia Harray, dietitian

Yes, as long as the vegetarian foods are also healthy. Vegetarians' eating habits have been associated with a lower risk of premature death, while red and processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Australian diets are generally high in meat and low in vegetables and legumes.

Vegetable alternatives to meat, such as legumes, nuts, seeds and tofu, have similar distinctive nutrients (iron, protein, zinc) while being naturally lower in saturated fats and fiber. These meatless options are widely available, affordable and socially acceptable.

A recent article has reinforced the importance for people to take into account the impact of their food choices on the environment, not just on health. In most climates and environments, the production of meat and dairy products has a more negative environmental impact than herbal foods. Even without a strict vegetarian diet, frequent replacement of meat meals with herbal alternatives can be beneficial to our health and the environment.

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Malcolm Forbes, doctor

A balanced vegetarian diet is healthier than the current diet of most Australians. There is plenty of evidence that steadily demonstrates that vegetarians benefit from lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. A Mediterranean vegetarian diet may also be associated with lower rates of depression, but this relationship is less clear.

I regularly learn about the diet of my patients and recommend an increase in herbal foods. A vegetarian diet is not a panacea, but it is easy to reduce the risk of lifestyle-related diseases for a patient.

Evidence suggests that vegetarians have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Natalie Parletta, nutritionist

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that vegetarians are living longer and have a lower rate of chronic disease – partly because of their diet and perhaps also because people who choose a vegetarian diet may be more concerned about their diet. health. Plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes, provide abundant fiber, nutrients and polyphenols, essential for healthy body and mind.

For vegetarians – and especially vegans – it is important to eat a varied and balanced diet, taking enough nutrients such as omega-3 and vitamin B12.

More recently, scientists have also highlighted the benefits of herbal diets to reduce our footprint on the planet: improving environmental sustainability and feeding our growing population. Then there are ethical concerns about animal welfare. Herbal diets – whether they are totally vegetarian or dominated by plant-based foods – are a win-win-win for humans, animals and the planet.

Rosemary Stanton, nutritionist

Yes, if you compare a well-chosen vegetarian diet to a typical junk food diet. Any comparison depends on the whole diet. A well-chosen vegetarian diet includes a good selection of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt (or calcium-enriched plant substitutes) make it particularly easy to meet nutrient requirements. In contrast, the typical Australian diet, rich in meat and junk food, and low in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds is far less healthy and plays a vital role in many of the health problems associated with eating. ;food.

Claims that a vegetarian diet lacking iron, protein or zinc is unfounded. It is true that those who follow a vegetarian diet have lower levels of iron stored as ferritin, but these levels are in the normal range and do not equate to a deficiency. And with ferritin, more is not better. However, it should be noted that the World Health Organization's recommendations for a plant-based diet do not prevent the inclusion of small amounts of seafood, poultry or poultry. red meat from appropriate sources.

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Katherine Livingstone, Population Nutrition

For most Australians, eating small amounts of lean meats and low-fat dairy products can be compatible with good health. The Australian Healthy Eating Guide recommends 1 to 3 servings of lean meats, poultry and fish, as well as alternatives such as beans and legumes each day. Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Processed meats must be limited because they are high in added salt and saturated fats, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

A plant-based diet contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and a low content of processed foods, but may still contain small amounts of lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Herbal diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, are associated with a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Eating an herbal diet is good for us and for the planet.

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None of the authors has interests or affiliations to declare.

This article was originally published on The Conversation by Alexandra Hansen. Read the original article here.

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