Before you go on a vegetarian diet–or even before you decide not to try the diet–it’s important that you weigh the pros against the cons so that you know you’re making the best decision for you. Vegetarians can choose to go on the diet for more than one reason–and there’s more than one type of diet that qualifies as vegetarian. While becoming a vegetarian can be a healthy lifestyle, at the same time, it can pose a danger to your health if you don’t know how to properly balance your diet.
Pro: A Humanitarian Choice
Many people become vegetarians because they don’t want to eat animals or even encourage the farming of animals by eating animal-produced products. However, the vegetarian diet allows for a variety of humane dietary choices, depending on your individual beliefs. Vegans abstain from all meat and animal products, but lacto-ovo vegetarians abstain only from meat and will still ingest animal products, such as dairy foods and eggs. Pescatarians will eat fish but not farm animals (but may eat animal products). Flexitarians usually abstain from meat, but may eat meat occasionally.
Con: Difficulty with Balanced Nutrition
One disadvantage of the vegetarian diet is that it’s easy to forget to give your body the complete nutrition that it needs. The more strict a vegetarian you are (forgoing fish, poultry and animal products), the less likely you are to eat nutritionally balanced meals. This is because the human body needs many nutrients naturally found in meat and animal products, such as protein and calcium. However, if you plan your meals accordingly, you can incorporate nutrients usually found in meat and animal products through supplements, nuts and soy products.
Pro: Nutrient-Rich Diet
At the same time, while you naturally miss out on some nutrients the body gets from meat and animal products when on a vegetarian diet, you’ll be getting a bevvy of nutrients from your fruits and vegetables. In fact, many meat eaters fail to eat all of the fruits and vegetables they need to have a properly balanced diet. The foods you’ll be eating are naturally lean and won’t pose as great a risk for weight gain. You’ll also be getting some important vitamins as well, such as A, C , E, K, B1 – B6 and B9.
Con: Difficulty Embracing the Lifestyle
When you cook at home, you’re bound to find that adapting to the vegetarian diet isn’t too hard. In fact, preparing vegetarian-friendly foods may be even easier than cooking meat. However, when you eat in a restaurant you may find that your dietary choice poses more difficulty. Many, but not all restaurants are low on vegetarian options, especially vegan options. You may get tired of only having basic salads everywhere you go. Try seeking out vegetarian-friendly restaurants so that you can get some variety when you dine out.
Likewise, you may not want to pose an inconvenience to your host at a gathering by requesting a vegetarian meal. However, you can solve this dilemma by eating ahead of time, bringing your own dish or offering to help with the cooking and teach your host a few vegetarian recipes that even meat lovers will find delicious.