One common reason for people to give up eating meat is that they think it will be healthier for them to be vegetarian.
The recent scare on red meat adds to this view – but whilst sensational headlines make news, you only get an angle on the story. Epidemiological studies like this can never claim cause and effect and there are many complex factors working together in producing the findings. For instance, vegetarians eat more vegetables. Actually everyone would benefit from eating some vegetables but many people eat hardly any at all.
So is it healthier? In terms of metabolic typing I would always say, “it depends”. I know a couple of vegetarians who are thriving on their diet. I know many others who have a whole host of health problems. If you are at the carbohydrate end of the spectrum, you could fare very well without meat. You’ll need a good variety of food types to make sure you get all the protein you need because vegetables don’t provide complete protein. If you are at the protein and fat end of the spectrum, going vegetarian could do you damage. When I ate very little meat or fat, I was overweight, tired all the time, moody and often ill.
Omega 3 is another factor; vegetable sources contain only the mother fat. Modern eating habits (particularly the excessive consumption of vegetable oil which is mostly omega 6) can compromise the ability of the body to make the family of omega 3 fats that you need for good health. Fish eaters benefit from the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids present in oily fish; vegetarians can be short of these essential fats.
Top tip – remember to consider your nutritional needs when deciding how to eat.
You can also read this and lots of other interesting articles in The Cockermouth Post (April issue) .