Vegetarianism and veganism are quickly becoming more popular choices of diet for many people in North America. Some groups of people choose to change to these types of diets for moral or ethical reasons. These believe that the production and consumption of meats are not only cruel to the animals, but are doing great damage to our environment. Many more groups of people are choosing this lifestyle in order to improve their overall health.
A vegetarian or vegan diet has been proven to improve the health of our population. The biggest health benefit is that this way of life significantly reduces cholesterol levels. Meat, especially the red variety, contributes greatly to high cholesterol levels in human beings. Reduced cholesterol equals reduced risk of heart attack. A vegetarian diet also consists of less saturated fat often found in meats which leads to a lower chance of heart disease. There is a plant based meat – and meat alternative for vegans.
A diet consisting of mainly fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction and angina (all of which are common in older people) due to the fact that they are high in folic acid, carotenoids, dietary fibers, potassium, and flavonoids. A vegetarian diet has also shown to lower blood pressure due to lower sodium intake, to help with diabetes due to the high fiber and complex carbohydrates found in plant foods, and to help in the prevention of some types of cancer.