Many people have been going vegan or becoming vegetarians over the years, whether for moral or for health reasons. They base their meals and supplements on plant-based food—which sounds healthy and sustaining on the surface—and abstain from meat products. However, your body undergoes changes from your diet, especially if it’s meat-free. Here is a list of ways your body will change if you stop eating meat.
Your gut bacteria will change
Your intestines have tons of bacteria that help digest food and send nutrients throughout the body. You would think that bacteria wouldn’t adjust to a dietary change, but they do. Scientists note that people who eat meat have different gut bacteria than those who don’t. According to a study conducted by Rasnik K. Singh about diet and gut changes, “Protein, fats, digestible and non-digestible carbohydrates, probiotics, and polyphenols all induce shifts in the microbiome with secondary effects on host immunologic and metabolic markers.”
You will become deficient in some nutrients
You may have heard that vegans and vegetarians suffer from nutrition deficiencies, and it’s true. These deficiencies are vitamin D, vitamin B-12, zinc, iron and calcium, to name a few. Vitamin B-12 is the most common deficiency, leading to fatigue, rapid heart rate and disorientation. According to Amanda Hostler, dietetic intern at The University of Texas Health Science Center, “Vitamin B12 is important in maintaining appropriate brain functioning and blood flow throughout our bodies and is mainly found in animal products, which is why someone following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle may develop a deficiency.” To compensate for many of these deficiencies, you will need to consume fortified cereals, soy milk or vitamin supplements.
Your risk for certain cancers may decrease
Scientists have documented that a person’s diet determines their risk for certain cancers. Colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer have been associated with diets filled with animal products. If you stopped eating meat, your risk for those cancers would decrease. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on meat and cancer risk, “Within Japan, affluent women who eat meat daily have 8.5 times higher risk of breast cancer than poorer women who rarely or never eat meat.” This is because meat products contain proteins, fats, carcinogens and hydrocarbons that increase cancer risk. Cutting out those components may lower your chances of developing cancers associated with meat eating.
Your cholesterol and blood pressure may decrease
Meat contains lots of sodium, assorted fats, and nitrates, which spikes your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Not only that, but it also increases your heart disease risk. If you stopped eating meat and went on a plant-based diet for a month, you would keep your levels low and reduce your heart disease risk. According to Dr. Michael Klaper, “Elevated cholesterol levels begin to decline, and blood vessel walls become healthier and more compliant as cruciferous vegetable intake increases nitric oxide in arterial walls, all of which reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.” It’s a win-win for your body and for you to stop eating meat in this regard.
You might reduce inflammation in your body
This one might sound odd. How does not eating meat reduce bodily inflammation? Well, scientists and health experts have found that eating meat inflames the body by stiffening the arteries and emitting harmful bacteria called endotoxins into the bloodstream from the gut. According to a study conducted by Kevin L. Fritsche about fatty acids from food and inflammation, “Current thinking is that the acute postprandial inflammatory response associated with fat consumption is mediated by endotoxin, primarily derived from gut microflora.” Therefore, if you stopped eating meat, you would lower bodily inflammation and reduce the number of endotoxins in your blood.