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5 things that happen when you stop eating meat


Becoming a vegetarian or vegan is terribly popular right now while others simply want to reduce their consumption of meat. The movement is helped by the fact that many celebrities profess to all sorts of benefits after they too ditch meat from their diets.

Vowing to ditch steaks and burgers in favour of a vegetarian lifestyle may have crossed your mind for ethical reasons or because of concerns about red meat and health. But, what actually happens to your body when you stop eating meat?

1. You lose weight

A US team at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington recently tried pinpoint how much weight a person loses if they switch from being an omnivore to a vegetarian.

The research, which reviewed previous studies and was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, showed participants who cut meat out of their diets lost around 10lbs on average without monitoring their calorie intake or increasing the amount they exercised.

"The take-home message is that a plant-based diet can help you lose weight without counting calories and without ramping up your exercise routine," Neal Barnard, MD, lead author of the study and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University, said at the time.

2. Your gut bacteria will change

The saying goes you are what you eat, and that relates to your digestive system as much as any other part of your body.

A 2014 study by the City University of New York exploring the difference between the gut bacteria found in omnivores, vegans and vegetarians found differences in all three. However, the biggest variation was between omnivores and vegans - who don't consume any animal products whatsoever. Vegans had more protective species of gut bacteria.

3. You could become deficient in nutrients

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A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can provide enough nutrients with enough planning. But it can be harder to get enough iron, vitamin D and vitamin B12, according to the health professionals who recommend eating enough pulses, such as beans and lentils, nuts, fruit, dark green vegetables, wholegrains, and cereals with fortified irons to get enough.

Vitamin B12 can meanwhile be found in yeast extract products such as Marmite, fortified breakfast cereals, and soya products. Eggs, fortified fat spreads, and cereals can be a source of vitamin D.

4. Your risk of developing cancer could drop...

A recent World Health Organisation report classed processed meat as carcinogenic, and so products such as bacon and salami found themselves categorised alongside formaldehyde, gamma radiation and cigarettes. Red meat was also labelled as "probably" having cancer causing properties. Two rashers a day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18pc, the experts concluded.

However, while this sounds significant, the 18pc rise in the risk of bowel cancer is from the base level that around 6 in every 100 people in the UK, for example, will get bowel cancer - not in total for each person.

5. ...as well as your chance of having heart disease

Scientists recently found that red meat is linked to heart disease.

A study by Lerner Research Institute in the US showed that carnitine, a nutrient found in the food, sets off gut microbe reactions which contribute to the development of heart disease.

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