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Myth: Vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters

TRUTH:  Vegetarians are not necessarily healthier.  Vegetarianism has been around for thousands of years and the quality of a vegetarian diet has evolved during that time. In a time before ovens or stoves, before proper food storage and sanitizing techniques, foodborne illness and poor nutrition were leading causes of death.  A vegetarian diet was much less likely to make someone sick.

Now, vegetarianism is less about health and more about politics (and for good reason).  Oftentimes, vegetarians replace meat and fish with more refined foods or vegetables prepared in unhealthy ways.  For example, cheesy pizza and deep fried falafel with tahini sauce in a white pita are high in fat and low in nutrients.  Instead, choosing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and soy prepared in healthy ways may decrease your risk of some diseases.

BOTTOM LINE:  Eating meat can be part of a healthy diet; particularly when the focus is on lean meats like chicken or fish.  Meat eaters also don’t have to worry as much about getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, or vitamins D and B-12.

Vegetarianism can also be a healthy choice – here are a few rules to remember:

  1. One ounce of meat equals ¼ cup cooked beans – choose a variety of beans
  2. Choose whole grains for added protein.  Soy, quinoa, and amaranth are complete proteins (they have all essential amino acids).
  3. Read nutrition fact labels for processed foods.  For example, if you choose meat analogues like tofu burgers, compare the labels of different brands to choose the healthiest.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596
  2. American Dietetic Association: http://www.eatright.org/public/content.aspx?id=6372

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2 Comments to "Myth: Vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters"

  1. Jess says:

    That cartoon is hilarious!

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