For various reasons, some people find it difficult to stick to a plant-based diet in the long run. So instead of going vegan or vegetarian for life, they choose to follow vegetarianism for a short period like a week, ten days, or several months.
This article will dig deep into the effects and benefits of being vegetarian for the short-term, including for one day or one week.
What are the benefits of being a vegetarian short-term?
You’ve probably heard friends say that following a short-term vegetarian plan gives them more energy and makes them feel healthier.. But does it have any other benefits besides just making you feel great?
According to a study on the effects of a 10-day vegan diet, researchers observed significant improvements in several biomarkers such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and body lipids. For those who don’t know what it means, biomarkers — short for biological markers — are an objective measure of what is going on in the body’s cells. Biomarkers serve as early warning signs for your health.
The study participants ate food based on starches, including wheat flour products, oats, rice, corn, barley, potatoes, quinoa, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, lentils, including fresh fruits, non-starchy greens, yellow and orange vegetables. Of course, since the diet tested was vegan, all animal products were omitted.
Effect on Weight Loss
Many people adopt a plant-based diet for short periods because they want to lose weight. But are they successful? And more importantly, what’s the science behind it?
First, you must understand that to lose weight; you don’t just have to eat less food. Rather, you must be in a calorie deficit. This way, your body will use its existing energy reserves to fuel your body and thus reduce your overall weight.
A plant-based diet aids this process as it is more fulfilling because of high fiber but provides less energy than meat products. Therefore, despite feeling full, your body will not get enough energy and thus turn to its reserves.
According to a study, people who followed a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet for fifteen days lost an average of 5.8 pounds. The weight loss associated with short-term vegetarian diets is, in part, due to the abundance of viscous fiber in and low-glycemic values of whole-grain foods and vegetables that make up vegetarian diets.
So, a short-term vegetarian or vegan diet is probably one of the healthiest and most effective options for a slimmer waist.
Effect on Blood Pressure
Plant-based foods are rich in potassium but contain little sodium. You may be wondering how this correlates with blood pressure, right?
Well, high sodium is linked with raising blood pressure as our body retains water to flush out extra sodium. This water puts extra pressure on the heart and vessels. Similarly, potassium increases the amount of sodium lost in the urine. Thus, contributing to less pressure.
A plant-based diet, even one followed for a brief period, can positively impact your blood pressure.
Effect on Cholesterol
Vegetarian diets are low in total and saturated fats while rich in fibers. Since the human body naturally produces LDL cholesterol, we don’t need to consume it through foods containing saturated or trans fats. However, doing so can lead your body to produce even more LDL cholesterol and increase the amount of bad cholesterol in your body.
Therefore, vegetarian diets, low in saturated fats, are a good choice for people wishing to maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Following a vegetarian diet even for a couple of weeks can reduce your cholesterol levels.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, whole-grain cereals, and nuts to enjoy the dramatic effects this diet can have on your health.
Effect on Lipid Profile
Lipid profile is a measure of triglycerides, a type of fat, in our blood. High lipid profiles in a person aren’t a good sign as the excess fat may deposit on your artery walls and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Following a vegetarian diet for a short period can decrease the lipid profile levelin the body. Numerous studies have found that the amount of lipid profiles in the body is more favorable among vegetarians than it is among non-vegetarians.
This observation can be credited to the fact that vegetarians consume more fibers and less total and saturated fats.
Effect on Auto-Immune Disease
We know the positive impacts of a vegetarian diet on metabolic health and mortality rate. However, little focus is given to its effect on autoimmune diseases. Thus, a study focused on the advantages of a vegetarian diet on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) — a condition characterized by widespread inflammation, pain in joints, and tissue damage on organs like lungs, kidneys, brain, etc — was carried out.
This study showed that following a vegetarian diet can improve SLE symptoms. Upon adherence to a vegetarian diet, the patients did not need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Moreover, they also suffered from less joint pain than usual.
Effect on Stress
Vegetarians typically experience less stress and feel less moody or down than non-vegetarians. Yes, it’s true. In fact, a study held in Gwangju, Korea, showed that eating a plant-based diet reduced stress from 22.64 ± 10.73 to 19.57 ± 9.68 points.
The focus of this study was students and teachers, who ate a diet focused on brown rice and vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, and other foods like seaweed, kimchi, and bean sprouts.
Moreover, this decrease in stress was attributed to the subjects’ eating a diet rich in vitamin B12. This vitamin is essential for the optimal working of our nervous system. Its deficiency leads to the cortisol or ‘fight or flight’ hormone secretion by adrenal glands, thus inducing stress.
What are the benefits of eating vegetarian one day a week?
If you find sticking to a plant-based diet for seven days in a row too difficult, you can try going meatless one day per week. Since the primary reason to consume a vegetarian diet is to eat healthily.
So why not adopt a vegetarian diet for a short period every few weeks. This way, you will be able to enjoy lots of health benefits without having to say goodbye to your favorite foods forever!
The general benefits of a vegetarian diet are:
Animal foods contain a considerable amount of total and saturated fat. This can increase the risk of heart diseases. On the other hand, vegetarian diets are high in fiber and contain little fat or heart-healthy unsaturated fat. So following a vegetarian diet even for a day gives your body the chance to get rid of the unhealthy fat and maintain an optimal lipid profile.
Red meat has a carcinogenic effect on the body and increases the risk of cancers like colon cancer. Contrarily, vegetarian diets, vegan diets, in particular, are associated with a lower risk of cancers like breast and colon cancers.
Therefore, you must decrease your intake of red meat, and the best way to do so is by giving your body something healthier instead. Additionally, following a plant-based diet even for a day will help you form healthy habits and make reducing meat consumption easier.
Many people, especially exercise addicts and sports enthusiasts, fear that cutting meat out means no protein. However, this is simply not true. Many plant-based foods contain plenty of healthy plant protein. This includes legumes like beans and lentils, nutritional yeast, nuts, soy products like tofu, and plant-based protein powders like hemp, pea, or rice protein.
Moreover, plant protein also works well for building strength and muscle mass.
An earlier section of this article details the effects of a vegetarian diet on weight loss. Now you know that you don’t have to be vegan for ten days in a row to lose weight. However, going vegetarian just once every week can do the job.
Of course, the results won’t be as dramatic and may take a little while to benefit, but if you are in no rush, then what’s to worry about?
Plant-based foods, rich in fiber, increase satiety but have a lower calorie count. Therefore, your body goes into a calorie deficit and uses its reserves to provide you with energy. This leads to reduced fat in your body, thus causing weight loss.
Have you been keeping up with the news? Following Greta Thunberg and other climate change advocates? Even if you have not, there is a slim chance that you are unaware of the catastrophic effects of global warming.
Recently, extremely hot weather caused a horrific bushfire in Australia that killed 3 billion animals and ruined many lives. Not only this, global warming is causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. As a result, coastal areas are sinking, among which Jakarta ranks first.
Did you know that animal agriculture is the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emission?
These glasses (CO2 and methane gas) warm the earth by trapping the sun’s UV rays rather than letting them escape. Moreover, animals raised for food release a huge amount of excrement that pollutes waterways, kills aquatic life and boosts algae bloom.
Therefore, as Julia Carney said, ‘little drops of water make a mighty ocean,’ you can contribute to stalling climate change by consuming less meat every week.
Thinking of ways to save some money? The smartest thing to do for your health and bank is eating vegetarian. This way, you won’t be buying any expensive meat and still benefit your health and the environment, a win-win situation, no?
Meatless Monday Meal Plan:
Make a healthful loaded quinoa taco breakfast with organic quinoa tortilla topped with bell pepper slaw, pickled onions, and spicy sour cream. You can also add some salsa and feta crumble to give it a delicious pop!
You can recharge yourself with a simple yet delicious teriyaki vegetable stir fry with sauteed green, yellow, and red bell peppers and broccoli for lunch. Since these are rather humble veggies, add a generous splash of teriyaki sauce to spice it up. You can use vegetable proteins like tempeh or tofu to make it healthier.
Lie back and relax with a few slices of the delicious vegetarian Mexican pizza by your side. You can make the dough beforehand or use a store-bought one. It is a delightful combination of Italian and Mexican cuisine. Top the pizza with jalapeños and onions, and try using cheddar and Monterey jack instead of the traditional mozzarella.
Craving a little munch on your meatless Monday? Try making cauliflower buffalo bites! This hot and spicy treat will be as crunchy and addictive as your regular buffalo bites. Serve hot with ranch or blue cheese for some extra kick.
Vegetarian diets are linked with many benefits to the health, animals, and environment. However, these benefits are not restricted to lifetime followers only. Quite the contrary, you can enjoy these health benefits just the same even by following a vegetarian diet for short periods, think one day a week, ten days, or a few months.
Numerous studies have shown that eating vegetarian can improve your heart health, reduce mortality rate, and benefit your overall health. And all this by skipping meat for a few days only! However, remember that vegetarian junk food is still junk. Therefore, you have to focus properly on planning and diversifying your meals.
Nevertheless, the benefits of vegetarianism are many and easy to avail! So, the door is open; the choice is here. The decision is entirely up to you to avail it.