OPINION: Vegetarianism isn’t a cure-all

Cutting meat isn’t going to fix all your dietary problems; it requires careful thought



Vegetarianism and veganism can be good, but you need to ensure you get the right nutrients and vitamins.


If you look at celebrities today, you will notice that many follow a new fad diet focused around vegetarianism. Fans want to mimic their idols in everything, including eating habits.

There are many reasons to become vegetarian, but I want to highlight some of the health benefits. Let’s look together at the benefits and limitations of being a vegetarian. I want to be clear it is about being vegetarian, not vegan.

April Davis, clinical assistant professor of nutrition, said vegetarians can still eat animal products like eggs and milk. However, vegans do not eat any animal byproducts — only plant-based products. I think this is a crucial difference to understand.

First of all, a healthy human diet should include many micro and macromolecules to keep us healthy and alive. Some vital amino acids are only in the food we can get from animals.

“There are nine amino acids that our bodies cannot produce,” Davis said. “We need to get them from another source. Some of them we can get from plants and some from animals.”

Animal food consists of significant elements we need to build up our bodies to survive. Amino acids are vital for building muscular tissue and proteins. Proteins provide a crucial role in every mechanism in the human body.

“I think it is probably better to have meat for some micronutrients, but we do not need it every day for sure,” said Franck Carbonero, assistant professor of nutrition. “A few times per week will be enough to supply us with the necessary nutrients.”

Some people can argue that we can get those nutrients from special supplements and not kill animals. I think we should realize that many people today do not have access to those supplements and meat is their only source of the amino acids.

Being wise in everything we are doing is the key. Any fanaticism in a daily diet is wrong. Overeating meat is wrong because it can make you sick. If you cannot get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients, the diet is wrong, even if you think it looks correct based on your personal moral code.

Carbonero said having a balance in food is critical for the human body’s welfare. Too much meat also can cause many diseases, including high blood pressure, problems with blood vessels and others.

“If your idea of a vegetarian diet is one is full of minimally processed vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts and other plant-based foods,” said Pablo Monsivais, associate professor of nutrition, “there is no doubt that it is a healthy pattern.”

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with eating anything you want, but it is a good idea to talk to your physician first. If you do not know how to balance your daily food, it is worth talking to a specialist.

“If you want to be a vegetarian all your life, you can have a balanced diet and never eat any meat,” Davis said.

The main component of being healthy is to have a balanced diet, full of vegetables and fruits and less processed food full of sugars. It is a personal choice to eat meat or not. It’s always a good idea to talk to your physician before making any radical changes in the food.