Cutting out meat from your diet can affect your body in multiple ways. Maybe you want to reduce your carbon footprint or maybe you just want a lighter diet. But before you go all vegan, arm yourself with knowledge about how your body reacts to a sudden change to a non-meat diet.
While going on a vegetarian or vegan diet can prove very effective when it comes to losing weight, the downside would definitely be the many nutrient deficiencies you will face. One of the major vitamins that vegetarians miss out on is Vitamin B12, which is primarily found in animal sources such as red meat, poultry and eggs. It is essential for red blood cell formation and a healthy metabolism. If you don’t get adequate amounts, you may fatigue easily and develop anemia. If you are still looking for vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12, then you will have to try supplements or fortified vegetarian products such as tofu or soy milk.
Animal proteins like red meat are considered complete proteins that contain all the essential amino acids. Plant sources do contain protein, but you will need to eat a variety of foods in order to make sure you are getting all of the building blocks of protein.
Iron is a mineral you need in small but critical amounts. Its primary function in nutrition is, as a component of the hemoglobin in your blood cells, to bind the oxygen you breathe in through your lungs and transport it to the tissues throughout your body. Iron also carries oxygen to your muscles and stores it there temporarily as part of a myoglobin molecule. Also, this mineral participates in a number of enzymatic reactions involved in detoxification, metabolism, immunity, growth and wound healing. Iron deficiency can therefore affect many essential functions in your body; foods such as red meat can play a role in preventing and treating iron deficiency since red meat is very rich in iron.
Over and above this, you will notice weight loss and muscle wasting if your diet does not contain enough protein, or if high sources of protein are suddenly cut from your diet. While reducing fat in your diet can be healthy, you still need to consume no less than 20 percent of your calories from healthy fat sources such as lean red meat. Otherwise, there is a risk of other dietary deficiencies such as vitamin E. You can choose lean sources rather than full-fat red meats.
But if you do decide to swap a meat diet to a vegetarian diet then you need to make other dietary changes in order to avoid the consequences of nutritional deficiencies, such as including other protein sources like tofu, beans and nuts.
Any drastic changes in your diet should not be undertaken before gaining knowledge or consulting your physicians. Even a slight imbalance can result in injury or damage to your muscles.