“It does not matter what you eat. Just don’t eat a lot, exercise, and your weight will not be a problem.” True? Not quite! There is scientific evidence that a vegetarian diet keeps that weight down, whereas meat eaters put it on. What you eat does matter. You know that weight loss is an industry. A money-making industry with many claims to make: Claims of weight loss pills, herbs and juices. Claims of exercise machines and exercise programmes. Claims of high-fat, no fat or lean diets. Which work? Which do not? How to find those things that work? It is bewildering. And expensive! The US FDA has warned against the effectiveness of a number of products that are being marketed. They include fat or starch blockers, weight loss chewing gum and body wraps. Even weight loss earrings and spectacles are in this list. Perhaps the last one is effective when your friends wear them to look at you? By contrast, vegetarians and vegans know what they eat and why they eat it. They save money and lose weight.
Weight loss of both your body and your wallet? Why not.
Vegetarian food production is inherently cheaper than that of meat. Just like a high fibre vegetarian diet goes through your system faster, the vegetarian food production chain is short compared to that of growing meat. Growing animals for meat is after all energy-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. For instance, it takes five kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef. It is that concentrated energy that you eat. And it’s not high-fibre. Short production cycles are better for the planet and shorter digestive processes are better for you. Perhaps you do not even need special low calorie vegetarian recipes to lose weight. A vegetarian or vegan diet appears to be a recipe for weight loss in itself! At least it represents an excellent start. Consider the latest research.
Vegetarian and vegan diets work
Recent British scientific research is based on a study of 22,000 people who were followed over five years. All participants put on weight over that time. However, meat eaters who changed to a vegetarian diet gained the least weight. Prof Tim Keys, who led this study for the University of Oxford and Cancer Research UK, obtained interesting results that are contrary to popular beliefs. His study is published in the Journal of Obesity. He said: “Contrary to current popular views that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein keeps weight down, we found that the lowest weight gain came in people with high intake of carbohydrates and low intake of protein.” The study involved meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans. On average the entire human sample population gained 2 kilos over the five years and none of them were overweight. The less consumption of animal products, the less weight was gained, leaving the vegans on top, with vegetarians runners-up. And the bit about exercising then? Well, it’s part of a holistic picture it seems. The study also found that those who became more physically active gained less weight than those who did not. No surprises there. So, not good news for vegan couch potatoes and a ray of hope for raging carnivores? Well…, the simple message is, whatever you eat, physical activity is part of the weight loss, and health-deal.
Health too? Yes, this study is part of a larger investigation by EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), comparing half a million people’s diets in 10 countries to learn how diet is linked to cancer. Results from EPIC’s investigation show that diet is a leading cause of some cancers. A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet is good for your health. Take diabetes, often a condition associated with inadequate diet and being over-weight. The EPIC study has revealed that diabetics carry three times the normal risk of developing colo-rectal cancer. And a recent Australian study even suggests that a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruit can reduce the effects of asthma attacks. The wider benefits of choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet for weight loss are obvious. But… perhaps you’d still rather take the ‘easy way’ out and continue to eat meat. Meat perhaps that has been engineered for your ‘health’? Voila! Researchers at Harvard University have now engineered pigs to produce “healthy forms of bacon, ham and pork crackling.” Three little pigs were genetically modified to carry Omega 3-converting genes of a nematode worm. This gives the meat of these three little research pigs the benefits of fats and oils found in fish and… vegetables! Talk about a long production process to get the same benefits from plants that take a fraction of the energy and time to produce. I’m telling no porky: before long pigs will fly… But do you want to eat them?
Weight loss may be your focus but you can see that its achievement is connected to a holistic picture, including your health and that of the world we live in. That is why you could say that many vegetarians and vegans are socially responsible eaters. Perhaps that insight will give you the motivation to become a vegetarian or vegan: to lose weight…and to discover a whole new world! Of course some people have medical conditions that cause them to be over weight. It would be foolish to recommend a vegetarian diet as a miracle cure in those instances. But in all other cases of being over weight there is one over-riding thing that you need: motivation. If you know why you want to lose weight you will do it. Motivation is everything. The evidence is in on effectiveness of vegetarian diets with respect to weight loss. If you also know that you are doing your body and the planet a favour by losing weight through vegetarian or vegan diets… then what are you waiting for? It’s over to you!
Dr Erik Leipoldt PhD has been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 30 years and his children were raised vegetarian. He uses a wheelchair due to spinal cord injury and attributes much of his good health and normal weight to his vegetarian diet. He writes about vegetarianism from his personal experience and knowledge found along the track, in his blog: http://low–calorie–and–vegetarian–recipe.blogspot.com/ Daily India