For many years, “meat and two veg” was the standard restaurant fare in the UK and North America. Today, however, restaurants, grocery stores, and cook books are increasingly accommodating to people with special diets, both imposed on them by their health (like low fat or low sugar diets) and the ones people impose on themselves because of the needs of their conscience (like vegetations and vegans). On this page, we’ll explore the meatless lifestyle, how it affects health, and why so many people are choosing to abandon their meat eating habits and go veg.
Though meat eaters tend to lump all non meat eaters into the same category as “vegetarians”; there are actually many different lifestyles under the meatless umbrella. Some people choose only to avoid red meat, like beef and pork, while others, called pescetarians, will only eat fish. Vegetarians choose to avoid all meats and meat products, including fish and gelatin, while vegans are the strictest – they avoid all meat, animal, and insect products including dairy, honey, eggs, silk, and beeswax, whether it’s a food product, clothing, or household product like candles or shampoo.
There are many reasons why a person might want to cut meat or animal products out of their diet and lifestyle. Many vegetarians and vegans are motivated by conscience – they don’t want to have any part in practices which hurt, kill, or otherwise exploit animals who have no control over their lives. Other vegetarians have adopted the lifestyle for health reasons – cutting out meat, especially red meat, greatly reduces the amount of saturated fats in your diet. And then there are what is known as the environmental vegetarians who hope that reducing our dependence on meat will increase the Earth’s carrying capacity and reduce pollution caused by raising animals.
Whatever your reason for deciding to stop eating meat, before you adopt your new diet the first thing you should do is consult your doctor, because the human body needs a balance of vitamins and minerals, some of which we are used to getting from meat. You will need to incorporate substitutes into your diet to avoid imbalance and possible malnutrition. Vegetarians and vegans, particularly those who are women, can be prone to iron deficiencies, which can cause anemia and fatigue, if they are not careful about their diets. Other common deficiencies include B12, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D.
Another consequence about becoming a vegetarian is that it suddenly narrows your options when it comes to eating out or dining with friends. It can be tough to ask for special consideration when you don’t like to make waves, so we can give you some suggestions on how to broach the subject as well as tips on balancing your diet, sorting out your reasons for changing your lifestyle, deciding on how far you want to take your lifestyle changes, and accommodating friends and family who have decided not to eat meat anymore. Browse our store of articles on the meatless lifestyle for more information.