The vegetarian diet involves abstaining from eating meat, fish and poultry. The vegan diet goes further to abstain from all byproducts of animals, eating only plant based foods.
The suggested benefits of adopting a plant based diet are numerous including improved cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation and reduced risk of diabetes.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions on the evidence surrounding improved health outputs and a plant based diet. Primarily due to the fact that vegetarians make a conscious decision to adhere to this diet type and are more likely to have other positive lifestyle habits such as not smoking or low alcohol consumption.
The famous Adventist Church study of nearly 61,000 self reported adults also showed a similar decrease in BMI associated with vegetarian diet (2)
A summary of 12 studies with 1151 participants showing a 95% confidence interval of 5 lbs of weight loss over a median of 18 weeks on a vegetarian diet (1)
Lower levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol have been reported with HDL (good cholesterol) remaining unchanged (3)
In studies comparing the vegetarian diet to a Mediterranean diet, significant differences were found in favor of the vegetarian diet for reduced LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (4)
If well-formulated and appropriately supplemented, starting a vegetarian or vegan diet can have a positive impact on your health. Some people find that gradually reducing meat from their diet can be an effective way to transition to a fully plant-based diet. This can also allow you to observe the impact of changing your diet on your key health markers. Alternatively, after consulting your physician, you might try cutting meat out of your diet for a short period of time (ex. a month) to see how it impacts your health and energy levels.