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Planting The Facts

Finding the pros and cons of protein-filled diets

Lucy Tu, Opinions Editor

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The war of plant versus meat has recently marched over to the battleground of everyday discussion. With strong arguments on both sides, debates on the pros and cons of plant-based diets have become as popular as they are divisive.

The fact of the matter is, the food we eat is a huge part of who we are, considering the decision to commit to veganism or vegetarianism is often based on things such as religion, social pressure, or animal welfare concern. However, plant-based diets have been around for a lot longer than they have been trendy, and many people have both long promoted and opposed these diets for health based reasons.

One of the main arguments against veganism and vegetarianism is the dietary restriction they place on protein. In most American diets, meat is a major protein-providing staple. Some people worry that opting to be a vegan or vegetarian might lead to protein deficiency. In reality, however, plant-based diets actually leave a lot of room for protein-filled foods.

According to the American Dietetic Association, it is possible to meet all the healthy protein requirements with a vegetarian or vegan diet, so long as the diet consists of other sources of protein such as beans and nuts. A lack of protein is not the main health concern.

The primary possible deficiency caused by a plant-based diet is not a lack of protein. Instead, essential supplements like iron, calcium, and other vitamins are what is lacking in some vegetarian or vegan diets. Because of this, some vegetarians and vegans especially choose to take supplements to fulfill their nutritional needs.

So why are plant based diets often considered to be healthier? Proponents for vegetarianism and veganism argue that plant-based diets lower the risk of conditions such as heart disease and kidney stones. Additionally, according to recent Harvard studies, meat consumption increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Cutting out meat can reduce this risk.

On the other hand, it is important to note that meat does provide beneficial nutrients, such as immune and nervous system boosting fats and Vitamin B12, which aids in digestion. Opposers of the anti-meat argument state that saturated fats from meat are not to blame for cardiovascular and obesity issues.

Rather, the root of the problem lies in the oils chemically processed into certain products. Research by the British Nutrition Foundation conducted in June, 2017 shows that a lean meat diet has no negative health effects.

Which is healthier then? After all, searching up “is being a vegan/vegetarian better for your health” leads to an endless list of contradictory information. While some sources provide evidence that strongly encourages you to pick up that broccoli and put down the steak, other research suggests that it is not necessarily the best way to go. With this barrage of comments from both sides, it’s difficult to know which is the superior option.

In the end, the choice to be a vegan, a vegetarian, or neither  is up to each individual person. It is a matter of what works best for your body. No matter what Women’s Health Magazine or Livestrong.com say, plants versus not is not a division; it is a decision. 

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