6 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Stop Eating Meat
There are many health benefits and advantages to eating a vegetarian diet. However, there are some changes your body will go through when you stop eating meat that might come as a surprise.
You will lose some weight.
Meat covers a decent amount of calories in the average carnivorous diet. So cutting it out completely will most likely lead to fewer calories consumed. One slice of bacon has about 55 calories and 5 grams of fat. Most people that eat bacon don't stop at one either. 4 slices will already take up over 220 calories and 20 grams of fat from your daily allowance, and that's not even a full meal!
Many people eat more than one serving of meat per day as well. Switching to a non-meat protein source can potentially result in a large number of calories saved, and in turn lower the numbers on your scale.
Your tummy will get new (healthy) bacteria.
Your body contains digestive enzymes that breakdown proteins in meat and plants. So when you stop eating meat, this does not necessarily change. However, all of the indigestible carbohydrates in plant-based foods can alter the bacteria of your intestines. "In a 2014 study published in the journal Nature, the composition of the gut microbiome changed dramatically within 4 days of subjects switching from a diet of all animal products to a vegetarian one, and vice versa" (Prevention.com). The recent microbiome revolution has made it clear to researchers that the gut-brain relationship goes both ways. The stomach is not only sending updates on digestion to the brain, the stomach bacteria are directly affecting how we think and feel as well.
You will protect yourself from heart disease.
Research shows that death from ischemic heart disease (caused by severe narrowing of the coronary arteries) is about 25% lower in vegetarians than in carnivores. This is most likely due to lower inflammation levels. And a vegetarian diet is mostly devoid of animal products, making it lower in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than a meat-inclusive diet. The American Heart Association reports that "many studies prove that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attacks), high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of cancer".
Your sense of taste will dull.
Don't worry, a dulled sense of taste is not a reaction to a meatless diet that has to remain permanent. Research has shown lack of zinc to be a probable cause. Zinc is often found in red meat and performs a tons of functions in the body; including boosting the immune system and contributing to your taste and hearing. So since zinc deficiency is likely an essential factor in loss of taste, vegetarians need to pay attention to their zinc intake.
Vegeatrians may require up to 50% more zinc than meat eaters, and will likely consume more phytates as well (these interfere with zinc absorption in the body). To remedy the problem, beans and grains can be soaked for a few hours before cooking. This helps limit the amount of phytates in these foods and allows the body to better absorb zinc.
Your emotions will fluctuate.
Like we have already specified, your guts are connected to your brain. So it makes perfect sense that your mental health might fluctuate when you first stop eating meat. The bacteria in your stomach release neurotransmitters that communicate with your brain. This information means that whatever you eat has the ability to directly effect you stress, anxiety and emotional levels.
The good news is that this can be a good thing. Many people report increased feelings of overall well being and decreased levels of stress once they cut out meat. These positive effects are the most common, however be prepared for the ups and downs that may happen during your body's initial transition.
You will go to the bathroom more often.
If you stop eating meat, then you're likey consuming more vegetables than before. Which also means you are consuming more fiber. Your intestine is adjusting to new (but healthy) bacteria as well, which may cause some indigestion. You may not experience severe side effects or digestive issues at first, but you will probably go number two more often. It's a good idea to eat more cooked vegetables, rather than raw, to help lighten the load, but keep in mind it's an adjustment period. This should subside with some time.
As with any physical or dietary change, there is an adjustment period when you cut meat from your diet. Some results will be immediately positive, and others may be initially frustrating. And our bodies are unique, not everyone will have equal reactions. So good luck and do not be scared, most of the changes listed are temporary. What has your Vegetarian experience been like? Sign-up and share with the Grow.Bar community today.