Need yet another reason to eat more veggies? A recent study of more than 57,000 people found that the less meat people ate, the less likely they were to have cataracts. Vegetarians (those who eat eggs, milk, and all plants, but no fish, poultry or meat) and vegans (only plant-based foods, no eggs or milk) were the least like to develop cataracts, compared to the “I eat everything” eaters or fish-only-eaters.
If getting the lens of your eye surgically replaced by an artificial lens (AKA “cataract surgery”) doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, increasing your plant consumption and decreasing your meat consumption may help. However, note that this study just indicates an association between the two… we can’t say that eating meat definitely causes cataracts.
Need some more reasons to increase the plants on your plate?
- Decreased risk of cancer: Red meat has been associated with a number of different cancers, including colorectal, throat, liver, esophageal and gastric. The American Institute for Cancer Research promotes a plant-based diet, with minimal red meat and complete avoidance of processed meat (deli meats, pepperoni, sausage, etc).
- Lower cholesterol: Let’s be honest, if you eat mac & cheese every night and pizza during the day you’d be considered a vegetarian, but you wouldn’t be considered healthy. A healthy vegetarian diet is usually low in saturated fat, cholesterol and can help people lower high cholesterol. Bob Harper, physical trainer on The Biggest Loser, went vegan to lower his genetically high cholesterol and it did just that!
- Help prevent or control diabetes: Dr. Neal Barnard, MD and founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has helped numerous people with diabetes lose weight and get their blood sugar under control with a vegan diet.
If you’re not ready to completely give up your hamburger, no problem. You could take part in the Meatless Monday movement, and just be vegetarian on Mondays. For simple recipes, check out their website and our article on vegetarian cooking.