10 Body Changes You'll Notice After Giving Up Meat

Giving up meat has positive and negative effects, so consider them all before adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.
10 Body Changes You'll Notice After Giving Up Meat
Mario Benedetti Arzuza

Written and verified by the doctor Mario Benedetti Arzuza.

Last update: 10 August, 2022

Meat is an excellent source of protein so completely giving it up has consequences that’ll soon manifest in your body. This is because it’s a rich source vitamins of the B complex and minerals such as iron  and zinc. Furthermore, it’s important to eat meat when your body is still developing. 

Did you know that a meat-free diet isn’t necessarily healthy? This is because it lacks 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 has been part of the diet throughout human evolution. From a nutritional point of view it’s relevant, as it provides a significant amount of high biological value proteins and other essential nutrients.

So, is it good to give up meat? Answering this question can be complex. As we mentioned above, meat provides nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. However, there’s some controversy about its consumption, especially in regard to red and 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 you choose lean cuts. Thus, to stop eating meat is a personal decision and isn’t always synonymous of well-being. The best thing to do when in doubt, is to discuss it with a nutritionist.

Beef, rosemary, and garlic cooked in a skillet.
Meat has a place in a healthy well-balanced diet as long as you eat it in moderation.

Body changes after giving up meat

A study published in Revue Scientifique et Technique highlights that moderate meat consumption can help prevent deficiency 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 positive effects on global food security. The latter considering that there’s growing concern about the sustainability of farm animal production.

So, should you give up meat? Let’s look in detail at the pros and cons of doing so. If you find sufficient reasons to limit its consumption, then go ahead. Still, be sure to consult a nutritionist to find out how to obtain the nutrients you’ll lose by not eating this animal product.

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 carnivores and vegetarians is quite different, as detailed in Human Microbiome Journal. Apparently, people who eat more plant-based foods have more of the good gut bacteria.

However, rebuilding and improving gut bacteria isn’t something that’ll happen in a day. Thus, bloating and gas won’t disappear instantly. This is because the gut and pancreas must get used to plant foods and reduce enzymes.

3. Healthier skin

People who stop eating meat claim it improves their skin but there’s no scientific evidence to support it. 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. Giving up meat and 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 percent. It’s also linked to a 3 percent 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 after giving up meat

It’s important to keep in mind that you create nutrient deficiencies by not consuming meat. Thus, you don’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 the zinc that’s 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. Eat white beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy foods to obtain it.

9. Muscular health

Animal and vegetable proteins are necessary to build and recover muscles after exercise, so vegetarian and vegan athletes must consume liquid proteins right after exercising.

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.

Giving up meat is 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.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.