For many years meat-eaters and vegetarians alike battle over who is correct about what a healthy human diet should consist of. From a vegan or vegetarian’s standpoint, the human body is not wired to process and digest raw meat and animal products like other carnivores. But people who eat meat may remind their counterparts that without animal products, we begin to suffer from the lack of certain vitamins or the necessary amount of protein. Both sides have valid arguments, but what is the right choice? This leads us to the purpose if this week’s blog. Meat: to eat or not to eat.
In December I began to notice a flaw in my diet. I was intaking a lot of different types of animal products and I noticed the way my body felt while processing and digesting red meat, pork and some chicken. I hadn’t done much research, but after getting through a stomach bug in the days following Christmas, I decided that it would be a perfect time to try a new style of eating. Just shy of a month ago I became pescatarian.
Pescatarians are different from vegetarians in that instead of consuming no animal flesh they do still eat fish and seafood. I found this to be an easier transition for myself and a great way to still be able to find easy protein.
I chose to take this plan of action for a few reasons: to maintain a healthy weight, to maintain my health quality, and for ethical purposes. According to the article “Does Man Need Meat”, “the vegetarian lifestyle is linked to better weight management and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”. This sounded super appealing to me! I did take into account other factors of healthy eating and in turn, did research to make sure I was going about the new way of eating properly. The Medical News Today article “Is Vegetarianism the Natural Option” says, “from a medical point of view, we should only eat meat if it is healthful to do so. Over recent years, there has been a growing mountain of evidence in support of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and the health risks of pounding too many burgers into our bodies,” which again has been a great part of helping me find reasons to stick to this lifestyle.
Although I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the pescatarian diet, I am noticing the physical changes I’ve experienced in the last several weeks. The first is that eating a primarily plant-based diet has decreased the time it takes for my food to digest. I feel less heavy and full after eating a meal. I don’t feel as fatigued when I wake up in the morning. I’ve also experienced less instances of acid reflux/heartburn. While all of these benefits have helped me stay consistent on this diet, I have had to be very conscious about my protein and vitamin B12 intake. I make sure I drink soy milk or eat some yogurt as dairy and soy milk contain B12, calcium, and other necessary vitamins. I do try to incorporate fish, but when a dining hall or restaurant doesn’t have a fish/seafood option I gravitate toward nuts, beans, tofu, sunflower seeds and peanut butter to make sure I’m getting the proper amount of protein. In addition to my benefits, I hope I can make a small impact for ethical purposes. If you’ve gotten this far, I encourage you to try a new way of eating and push yourself outside of your comfort zone; it makes a huge difference (and I don’t miss meat that much). Check in later this Spring for any further updates (as I may or may not continue, we shall see)! Happy New Year!