Who eats healthier: vegetarian or carnivore? – paying off


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Eating a piece of meat…some people love it, others hate it. Vegetarians have several reasons to eat a plant-based diet. For some, animal welfare is the most important reason, and for others health plays an important role. But is a vegetarian diet healthier than a diet that includes a daily piece of meat? We pose the question to Renger Weitkamp, ​​professor of nutrition and health.

How important is nutrition to your health?

For Witkamp there is no doubt about the importance of nutrition to your health. “It's very important. Food provides the essential components for your health. It should provide all the essential elements for your daily energy needs. But nutrition is also essential for growth and is important for your immune system.”

There are many different views on what is healthy. The working definition of health according to Weitkamp is: “the ability to deal with your environment.” According to him, this relates to your physical environment, but also to your psychological and social environment, and your diet has an important influence on all of these matters. Your health factors.

The professor says that nutrients from plants are essential. “We take in all kinds of substances through plants in particular, which can be assumed to do more than just provide us with energy and building blocks. There is scientific evidence that nutrients from plants make us healthier.

What is the difference between plant and animal proteins?

This has a downside. Our body has a harder time processing plant proteins, Weitkamp says. On the other hand, animal proteins are similar to the protein found in our bodies. That's why we can digest it well and absorb it well into our muscles. Since our bodies have a harder time digesting plant proteins, vegetarians should also eat more protein-rich products than meat eaters. In practice, according to the professor, this is easy to deal with and therefore you can easily put together a diet.

Vegetarians should eat a combination of beans or legumes and grain products to get enough protein. “There are certain building blocks of proteins that are less in beans and more in grains.” Soy protein is the best plant-based protein because it's most similar to our own protein, Weitkamp explains.

B12 and Iron: What nutrients may vegans lack?

The professor says that people are omnivores by nature. “We actually need the nutrients that you get mainly from meat and dairy products. But that doesn't mean you have to take them out of there, because we have very good alternatives these days. However, we can't get all the nutrients from plants.

Another nutrient that vegans often don't get enough of is iron. “Plants contain iron, but plant iron is more difficult to absorb than animal iron.” Therefore, it is important for vegetarians to pay attention to the amount of iron they consume daily.

What are the harms of a diet that contains animal products?

Meat contains a lot of saturated fat and protein. According to Weitkamp, ​​too much of this is harmful to your health. “We did not evolve as pure carnivores, but as omnivores who eat a small amount of animal products. So you don't really have to eat meat every day. As long as you get enough protein. But this can also be plant protein,” the professor explains. Far fewer animal products than we are often told. “For many years, milk manufacturers have said that you should drink three cups of milk a day. But this is nonsense. “This is not necessary at all.”

It's also easier to overeat if you eat meat than if you only eat plant-based products. “You have a limited amount you can eat at each meal. Meats contain a lot of energy and protein per serving. Then you consume a relatively high number of calories and less fiber and healthy plant material. Plant foods, on the other hand, are less energy and calorie dense.”

Are vegetarians healthier than meat eaters?

Research shows that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and diabetes than meat eaters. According to Weitkamp, ​​this is not necessarily due to the vegetarian diet, but it is related to it. “Almost all cardiovascular disease and many forms of cancer and depression are linked to eating too much unhealthy food. This is theoretically possible with a vegetarian diet, but vegetarians generally do not. They often eat too much fibre, vitamins and a variety of plant substances.” “It's only healthy.”

Vegetarians often eat fewer calories. “You have to eat more plant foods in larger quantities to get the same amount of calories as someone who eats meat. As a result, vegetarians generally suffer from obesity less. This could also explain why vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters.”

What is Professor Weitkamp's nutritional advice for people who want to eat healthier?

The professor's nutritional advice for staying healthy is clear: “Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables.” According to him, they can never cause any harm. But according to Weitkamp, ​​it's especially important to eat a varied diet.

He also recommends eating fruit. But eat it in moderation, because it also contains a lot of sugar. “Eat as many whole grain products as possible and limit your intake of fast sugars,” Weitkamp continues. These are sugars that are added to sweets and pastries. Sometimes eating meat, dairy products, or eggs. Too varied and moderate: a very boring message. But our body copes well with this.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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