10 Changes that Occur in Your Body After Giving Up Meat

Giving up meat can have positive and negative effects, so it's essential that we consider all aspects before deciding to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
10 Changes that Occur in Your Body After Giving Up Meat

Last update: 18 April, 2021

Meat is an excellent source of protein. It contains B vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc. It’s especially important to eat meat when your body is growing and developing. Completely giving up meat from your daily food intake has consequences on your body.

Completely eliminating the daily intake of meat has consequences for the body. It is convenient to know that a meat-free diet is not synonymous of healthy, since it would imply excluding an important source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Is it good to stop eating meat?

According to a publication in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, meat is a food that has been part of the diet throughout human evolution. From a nutritional point of view it is relevant, as it provides a significant amount of high biological value proteins and other essential nutrients.

So, is it good to stop eating meat? Answering this question can be complex. As we can see, meat provides nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. However, there’s some controversy about its consumption, especially if it’s red meat or processed meat.

Information published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research indicates that excessive consumption of red and processed meats increases the risk of total mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

Meanwhile, experts and nutritionists agree that moderate consumption shouldn’t pose risks, especially if lean cuts are chosen. Thus, to stop eating meat is a personal decision and isn’t always synonymous of well-being. When in doubt, the best thing to do is to talk it over with a nutrition professional.

Beef, rosemary, and garlic cooked in a skillet.
Meat’s a food that has a place in a healthy and varied diet. However, its consumption should be moderate.

Changes you experience when you stop eating meat

A study published in Revue Scientifique et Technique highlights that moderate meat consumption can help preventdeficiency of some essential nutrients, as it contains large amounts of protein and moderate doses of iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.

However, this same research concludes that giving up meat may reduce the development of a wide variety of chronic diseases and, in turn, could have beneficial effects on global food security. The latter considering that there’s growing concern about the sustainability of farm animal production.

Is it advisable to give it up? Let’s look in detail at the pros and cons of giving up meat. If you see sufficient reasons to limit its consumption, perfect. However, it’s best to consult a nutritionist to find out how to cover the nutrients that you stop getting by not eating this food.

1. Losing a few kilos

People who stop eating meat can lose several pounds as they decrease total dietary calorie intake. In addition, in the medium and long term, this helps to reduce inflammation markers, which are associated with excess weight.

However, it’s essential to cover protein needs, since it is a macronutrient that’s a determining factor in metabolism and muscle health. It’s present in legumes, white meats, fish,, and other healthy foods.

2. Intestinal bacteria

The intestinal microflora of people who eat meat and those who are vegetarians is very different, as detailed in Human Microbiome Journal. Apparently, people who eat more plant-based foods have more beneficial bacteria.

However, rebuilding and improving gut flora isn’t something that can be done in a day. Therefore, bloating and gas won’t disappear instantly. This is because the gut and pancreas will become accustomed to plant foods and enzymes will be reduced.

3. Healthier skin

People who stop eating meat suggest that their skin condition improves, although there’s no evidence to support this fact. However, by increasing consumption of plant foods instead of meats, you get more antioxidants, which are essential for skin health, according to a study published in 2017.

A woman with healthy skin smiling after getting out of the shower.
Limiting the consumption of red meat and increasing the intake of plant foods can, in the long term, have an impact on good skin health.

4. Increase your fiber intake

When limiting meat consumption, it’s important to increase the consumption of vegetable sources of protein. Thanks to this, it’s possible to obtain a greater contribution of fiber in the diet, since vegetable foods generally contain this nutrient.

5. Cardiovascular health

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that excessive consumption of red and processed meat leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

According to the evidence, frequent ingestion of these foods increases the probability of cardiovascular disease by up to 7%. It’s also linked to a 3% increased risk of all causes of death.

6. You’ll reduce your risk of diabetes

People who follow a vegetarian diet have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, as detailed in this study published in Current Diabetes Reports.

Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors linked to type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

A doctor showing a glucometer to a patient.
Giving up meat and increasing consumption of plant foods is associated with a lower risk of diabetes.

7. Nutritional deficiencies

It’s very important to remember that by not consuming meat, you create nutrient deficiencies which means that you won’t get the all necessary nutrients for the proper functioning of your body. In general, it can lead to deficiencies in iodine, iron and vitamins D and B12.

Fortunately, it’s possible to balance this situation by carefully planning your diet. A nutritionist will be able to guide you towards the consumption of legumes and other foods that contain these nutrients.

8. Lack of taste

Your taste buds respond to zinc consumption which is prevalent in oysters and red meat. So, when you stop eating meat, you’ll have to look for new sources of food to absorb this mineral. Consume white beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy foods.

9. Muscular health

Animal and vegetable proteins are necessary to build and recover muscles after exercise, so it is advisable for vegetarian and vegan athletes to consume liquid proteins right after exercise.

10. Less risk of depression

The evidence on the relationship between meat consumption and a greater tendency to depression isn’t yet solid. However, a meta-analysis published in BMC Psychiatry doesn’t rule out a link between excessive intake of this food and this mental health disorder.

Stopping eating meat, a personal choice

For now, the evidence on meat consumption continues to cause divided opinions. In general, in most healthy people, eating meat isn’t a problem. However, it appears that limiting meat consumption may have some medium- and long-term benefits.

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