The top 10 benefits of a vegetarian diet


Eating more vegetarian or plant-based meals is great for the environment and our health. Even if you don’t fancy becoming a full-time veggie, making some small changes can make a big difference. 
With so many vegetarian and vegan options on the market, it’s never been a better time to cut down on our meat consumption. If you need a bit more convincing, keep reading as we explore the top 10 benefits of a vegetarian diet in this helpful guide.

Fighting disease

The health benefits of vegetarianism are arguably the most convincing reason to try going meat-free. It’s thought that vegetarians may be up to one third less likely to die from heart disease, one of the biggest killers in the UK. 
As well as this, vegetarians and vegans are more likely to have lower blood pressure than people who eat meat, as plant-based foods are usually lower in fat and cholesterol. There may also be a slightly lower risk of cancer, especially with a completely plant-based or vegan diet. 
A healthy vegetarian diet can help to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes as well - vegetarians could be half as likely to develop the disease than their meat-eating counterparts. 
If you’re thinking about trying a vegetarian diet for any of these health benefits, it’s important to make sure you’re replacing meat with healthy whole foods and good sources of protein. Eating a diet full of processed foods and sugary snacks won’t bring any health benefits, even if you have cut out the meat. 
To keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, be sure to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein sources. 

Live longer

If you like the idea of increasing your lifespan, cutting out meat and animal products might be the way to go. Various studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans can live around 8 years longer than meat eaters. 
With the reduced likelihood of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even cancer, vegetarians and vegans are more likely to avoid a premature death caused by these deadly diseases. Even part-time vegetarians and pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) can reap some of these benefits and live a longer life.


Weight loss

Research has shown that people who stick to a vegetarian diet are more likely to lose weight. 
Vegan or plant-based diets are even more beneficial for weight loss, with studies showing that vegans have the lowest average BMI compared to vegetarians and meat eaters. This is because vegetarians and vegans are more likely to eat a diet full of healthy, low-calorie fruits and vegetables.
Weight loss can’t be guaranteed, however, when you start excluding meat from your diet. 
If you’re looking to lose weight with a vegetarian diet, it’s important to keep an eye on your calorie intake and make sure you’re eating healthy protein sources and lots of fruits and vegetables. 

Environmentally friendly

With the threat of climate change, many of us are looking for ways to decrease our carbon footprint and be kinder to our planet. With an ever-increasing population, land and resources are starting to run low. 
A vegetarian diet requires two and a half times less the amount of land needed to grow food compared to a meat eater's diet. According to a report on climate change, agriculture is directly responsible for up to 8.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
This means someone eating a vegetarian diet has 2.5x less carbon emissions than a meat-based diet. A vegetarian diet also uses less water - a single chicken breast takes over 542 litres of water to produce! 
Even if we all just cut down our meat consumption or ate a semi-vegetarian diet, we’d all be doing our bit to protect our environment and slow down climate change. 


Increased energy

If you’re feeling tired or low on energy, a vegetarian or vegan diet could provide the energy boost you’re looking for. Research has found that eating a plant-based diet can reduce tiredness because the body uses less energy on digesting food. 
Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables provides your body with vitamins and minerals that are vital for feeling our best. That being said, it’s important to find alternative sources of protein if you’re thinking of cutting out meat. 
Thankfully, there are plenty of options: eggs, nuts, lentils, oats, beans and soy products can all provide you with plenty of protein. 

Strong bones

Rates of osteoporosis, a condition that makes your bones weak and fragile, have been found to be lower in countries where people eat mostly vegetarian diets. This could be because animal protein can drain calcium from the bones, leading to bone loss.
A study on this subject found that long-term vegetarians had only 18% less bone mineral at the age of 80, compared to meat eaters who had 35% less bone mineral. 
A plant-based diet may also be able to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation and improving overall health. 

High fibre

Eating a high fibre diet keeps you regular and reduces your risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. 
Eating a healthy vegetarian diet means you’re more likely to be sourcing your protein from beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables. These are all fantastic sources of fibre - in fact, all dietary fibre sources are vegan. 
That means vegetarians and vegans are more likely to have a higher fibre intake than meat-eaters.


Animal welfare

One of the most popular reasons for becoming a vegetarian or vegan is compassion for animals. By going veggie, you won’t be contributing to the death of any animals as far as your diet goes. 
Veganism is even better for animal welfare; avoiding animal products entirely means the food on your plate won’t have caused any pain or suffering to any animals.
If you’re strongly against animal cruelty, this could be one of the most convincing reasons to avoid meat and try a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

Food safety

Research has found that vegetarians and vegans are less likely to get food poisoning than people who eat meat. Veganism is the best choice if you’re wanting to avoid food poisoning: meat, eggs, fish and dairy account for the vast majority of food poisoning cases.
Chicken alone is responsible for around half of all cases. Plant-based foods can become contaminated, but this is usually down to unsafe handling or cross-contamination with animal products.
This means going vegetarian or vegan will significantly lower your risk of food poisoning. 

Healthy skin

On top of all the other health benefits of vegetarianism and veganism, a meat-free diet can also benefit your skin. A balanced vegetarian diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will support your skin, hair and nails. 
Green, red and orange vegetables have been shown to protect against UV damage which is responsible for premature ageing of the skin. If you want to take it a step further, the exclusion of dairy in a vegan diet could even improve acne. 
Even just choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables over processed foods as part of a semi-vegetarian diet could leave you with the glowing skin you desire. 

Now you’ve learned the top 10 benefits of a vegetarian diet, you might be convinced to try going veggie, even for just a week. You might find yourself feeling healthier, or you could feel good about the environmental benefits. It’s worth a try, and it might become a healthy habit you’ll want to stick to. 

Faye Bonnell - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 16 March 2023
© 2024 Chemist4U. Innox Trading Ltd, 35-37 Greenhey Place, Skelmersdale, Lancashire, WN8 9SA, GB. All rights reserved. Registered and regulated UK pharmacy with the GPhC (registered premises 9011784). Registered in England No. 07262043 | VAT Registration No. GB140138454