Health conscious people are concerned about their diet. Information about nutritional guidelines and healthy eating is easily found; the hard part is taking what we know and putting it into practice. A growing number of Americans are turning towards vegetarianism as a path of good health practices. The basic principle of being a vegetarian is giving up meat and fish and then generally replacing it with more fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains. The most common form is a lacto-ovo vegetarian, which means that you eat milk (lacto) and egg (ovo) products. The more extreme options cut out one or both of these types of products. When both are restricted it is called vegan.
One factor in your decision may be money. It is true that the United States sells meat cheaper than most other places in the world, but it is still what people spend the most on in grocery stores.
Another factor is time. If you choose to become a vegetarian you will most likely go to the supermarket more frequently because you will buy more fresh products at lower quantities to keep them from going bad. It will also take longer to prepare fresh food than if you were to just pop a frozen chimichanga in the microwave.
The main issue however, is health. The American Dietetic Association said the following: "appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, are nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases." Planning is essential to vegetarianism. You need to think about the nutrients you are forgoing in taking meat out of your diet and make a plan to compensate for them. Some of the major deficiencies that can occur in vegetarianism are with iron, calcium, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, and protein. You need to research what foods are rich in these nutrients so can alter your diet and maintain your health. You will also need to take a multivitamin because some of these nutrients are difficult to get good amounts of even when you do eat meat.
Many diseases have been shown to be prevented or aided by eating more fruits and vegetables. The obvious side effect of this healthy lifestyle is to reduce obesity. Some factors relating to weight are genetic but diet and exercise play the biggest role in control of this disease. Another finding is that eating many fruits and vegetables helps prevent cancer. Dozens of plant foods have cancer fighting agents that could save your life someday. Other diseases affected are diabetes, strokes, and heart disease. There are surely other effects and benefits that we have not yet studied or do not fully understand.
Other considerations such as culture, environmental concerns, or taste may also affect your decision but it is really a choice that is up to you. Vegetarianism is one option of healthy living, and as long as you find a good multivitamin and are careful with your nutritional needs, you will find it to be beneficial to your health.