It is often considered by some that all of us should switch to a vegetarian diet, as foods composed of meat could be harmful to our health.
Although eating vegetables is quite healthy, consuming healthy meat in the right proportion is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Adapting to a Diet Full of Vegetables
It is true that adapting a vegetarian diet can be highly beneficial for our health. Vegetables are a rich source of nutrients, as they are composed of vitamins, potassium, magnesium, etc. It helps keep our skin hydrated and promotes a healthy heart condition. Moreover, vegetables are easily accessible and highly affordable compared to meat.
However, as much as vegetables are healthy, we cannot stay restricted to only one source of food for survival. Meat is equally important to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. It is a rich source of meat when cooked properly, and if eaten in a limited amount, meat can be highly beneficial.
Dangers of Eating an All-Vegetable Diet
While you may enjoy perfect health on a varied, well-planned vegetarian diet, limiting food choices to vegetables can have serious health concerns.
- It may lead to calorie deficiency, making you feel lethargic and have a harder time focusing and performing vigorous activities.
- They lack significant amounts of macronutrients, for example, fats and proteins. Fat is essential for energy, healthy mental function, and nutrient metabolism. While protein is important for strong muscles and an effective immune system.
- Risk of an iron deficiency: Even though some vegetables are rich in iron, some of them also contain chemicals called phytates that block absorption of the mineral.
- A deficiency of vitamin B-12 can also occur, which may cause anaemia, a condition in which your blood doesn’t supply your body with enough oxygen.
Strictly restricting yourself to a particular type of diet is not the solution to a healthy lifestyle; instead, it can give rise to severe eating disorders that could affect your well-being.
Animal proteins, like meat proteins, are equally important for growth and development, especially for children. It has been shown that a low animal protein diet, lower than the daily protein requirement, reduces their “cognitive performance.“
Reasons Why You Should Include Meat in Your Diet
A good reason for meat to be a part of our regular dinner plate is:
- Red meat is a valuable source of iron, protein, and other important nutrients like zinc, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fats.
- Energy-boosting iron is especially important for women, who have greater requirements than men in many age groups.
- Most importantly, meat promotes muscle development, as it is a rich source of protein. It is highly recommended for growing children.
- Red meat is an easily absorbed source of iron, which helps prevent anaemia.
Meat from naturally grown chicken, cow, goat, and sheep is highly beneficial if eaten in the right proportion. Additionally, lean red meat, chicken, eggs, legumes, and dairy foods like milk and yoghurt are all quality protein sources.
There’s no problem with a modest intake of lean red meat. Dietary guidelines recommend a maximum of 455g cooked (600–700g raw weight) lean red meat per week in order to meet iron and zinc recommendations.
Consequently, it is important to maintain a balanced diet composed of both meat and vegetables in a reasonable proportion. Furthermore, the quantity of both also varies according to the age groups. Meal planning is an easy way to get more variety and more nutrients into your diet.