Wednesday 20 Jan 2016 7:05 pm
If the rising popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets shows anything, it’s that going meat-free will be more popular than ever in 2016.
Whether you want to feel healthier, you’re giving up animal products for ethical reasons or you are trying it for Veganuary, you are joining a growing band of plant-lovers swapping bacon for Fakon and turkey for… uh.. Tofurky.
There is a lot of debate over whether a meat-free diet is better for you – but have you ever wondered what goes on in your body when you go without?
Here are six things you can expect to happen if you stop eating meat.
1) You’ll lose weight
Meat has been long-associated with weight gain, by nutritionists and multiple dietary studies.
So it’s no wonder that switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet can have such an impact on your weight.
This 2014 study comparing the nutritional quality of vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diets found the vegan diet to be the highest scoring in all the areas they examined.
Vegan diets were also indicated by another 2013 study as the best for losing weight compared to other diets over a six month period.
2) You’ll smell nicer
Meat sweats aren’t just a figment of the imagination – eating meat has an effect on your body odour.
Red meat is harder to digest than other foods, so your body has to work harder, hence the sweating.
Male participants in a 2006 study that were on a non-meat diet for two weeks were more pleasant and attractive in odour by women than those who weren’t.
3) Though you might lose your sense of taste
And not just your taste for meat.
Red meat is one the main sources of zinc, a lack of which can cause taste impairment according to this Japanese study of patients from Tokushima University Hospital.
However, this is incredibly rare and not at all widely reported. No cause for concern.
4) You might feel tired, or at worse quite ill
Going vegan or vegetarian takes some planning to make sure you’re still getting the vitamins you’d get from meat.
You could find yourself becoming seriously ill, like blogger Jordan Younger if you don’t make sure you’re getting them all. She claims that her vegan diet that cut out various food groups made her so ill that her hair fell out and she was tired all the time.
Lack of iron, easily sourced from eating red meat, for example, can be a cause of tiredness.
The NHS notes that the absorption of iron is more difficult from plant-based foods compared to meat, but there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to fulfil nutritional needs with a vegan diet with the right foods.
Iron-rich foods include: pulses, wholemeal bread and flour, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, dark green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli and spring greens.