General Question

Myndecho's avatar

What are the pros and cons with becoming a vegetarian?

Asked by Myndecho (948points) April 21st, 2009

Because 90% of the time they ask me to rewrite my questions I’ll add details. I think you may have guessed I want to become a vegetarian.
If I go through with this I will still have cheese, eggs, milk

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

39 Answers

Likeradar's avatar

I don’t eat meat, but I do eat fish, eggs, and dairy .

Giving up the yummy taste of meat.
Being “that guy” at pot-lucks, bbqs, and shared dinners.
Depending on how far you take vegetarianism (eggs? fish? just red meat?) it can be hard to eat at some restaurants.
Explaining over and over why you don’t eat meat.
Finding another way to get enough of the nutrients meat has.
Some people get gassy.

Many people believe it’s healthier.
Not supporting an industry that abuses animals. It feels good to know your $ does not go to torture animals. (<—-my main reason. And yes, hunters, I know there are ways around this, and no, I don’t buy leather or suede.)
You have the opportunity and reason to try so many yummy new foods.

I’ll probably think of more soon…

ragingloli's avatar

being a veggie is actually not healthy

Likeradar's avatar

@ragingloli Links to support that definitive statement?

Myndecho's avatar

I don’t mind having dairy and eggs, I just don’t want harm to come to animals.

ragingloli's avatar

“A vegetarian or fruit diet is safe as long as it provides some protein from dairy products such as cheese and milk or from fish or eggs. The reason for this is that eggs, milk, and animal flesh contain complete protein but most plant foods do not,” according to Theodore Berland in Consumer Guide’s “Rating the Diets.”

Vegans are also more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 (cobalamine) deficiency since this is found in animal foods like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Lack of this important vitamin may cause neurological and gastrointestinal problems.

Strict vegetarians likewise lack vitamin D which is found in fortified milk and eggs. To remedy this, they should expose themselves to sunlight for about 20 to 30 minutes daily. If not, the use of supplements is advised.

Rickets, another deficiency disease that causes deformed bones and a curved spine, has been observed in vegans. So have calcium and iron deficiencies. Children who adhere to vegetarianism tend to be smaller than omnivorous kids, Yetiv revealed.

oratio's avatar

Pro: It is healthier, your intestines and digestive system work better, it’s better for the environment as meat production takes a lot of of resources. It might help you loose weight. (But still, what goes in must be less than what is lost).

Con: You sometimes have to say no to food some people have spent hours into cooking, making them feel bad.

I am a vegetarian, but I still eat eggs and drink milk. I just don’t eat meat.

Likeradar's avatar

@ragingloli – interesting links, thank you. It seems like being a veg is ok as long as it’s done properly, yes? I’m not trying to argue, just discuss. :)

tinyfaery's avatar

@ragingloli I have a vitamin B12 deficiency and an iron deficiency, but I eat poultry/fish/eggs/a bit of dairy. Just like any diet, you have to make sure that you are getting what you need.

bea2345's avatar

Since I changed my way of eating in order to manage my diabetes, I have been eating much less meat. Eggs, cheese, fish and occasionally chicken or beef, and my health is the better for it. Although eating less meat was not intentional: it just happened, as high fibre foods do damp one’s appetite.

oratio's avatar

Some people try to make it that you don’t get what you need if you don’t eat meat, which is not true. It’s like @tinyfaery said.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I don’t think I could ever give up meat, but still…

andrew's avatar

I say this having been an on and off vegan for 2 years.

You don’t have to worry as much about food going bad.
You can release some guilt about the way your food is raised.

It is non-trivial to get a balanced diet. Becoming a vegetarian is a significant life shift—and I’ve had way too many friends become “cheese and bread” vegetarians and wonder why they don’t feel healthy or lose weight. While I don’t deny that it is is possible, it does take real commitment to make sure that you’re getting complete proteins—be it from whole beans and rice to lentils or whatever.

It’s more difficult to gain muscle mass.
No bacon.

I’m not sure your reasoning behind it—whether you’re doing it for health or political reasons, but I’d definitely try going organic first before going vegetarian and see how well you maintain.

crisw's avatar

Some pros and cons you haven’t gotten yet:

It’s cheaper! Meat is the most expensive item in most people’s food budgets.
Learning lots of creative ways to cook- not just “meat and 2 veg” every night.
You are doing something personal to help combat cruelty, pollution, global warming, etc.

Lots of questions/comments from people, some of whom will be jerks (if you don’t mind this, then it’s OK)
Can be hard to eat out in some places
Can be hard if you travel

andrew's avatar

@crisw Ah yes! It definitely is cheaper. I forgot that. Thank you!

andrew's avatar

@Myndecho Also, where do you live? That has a huge impact on how successful a switch to vegetarianism will be.

AstroChuck's avatar

I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian and have been one for 19 years. If you decide you want to adopt this diet you should know one thing. Take zinc supplements. Although you get some zinc natually through certain non-meat sources, you’ll find it difficult to get enough. The misconception is that vegetarians have protein and iron deficiencies. The truth is that if you eat properly you should have no problem obtaining enough.
Good luck. You will feel better adopting a humane, animal free diet.

casheroo's avatar

From a non-vegetarian, I would say you’d save a lot of money would be a good pro. Another would be, if you feel strongly about animal rights, then become a vegetarian is a no brainer.

I’ve always wondered, do people just stop eating meat altogether? I know when you are becoming a “meat-eater” again, you have to ease into it, because it can make you very sick.

I don’t eat meat too often. We rarely buy it at the store. My husband likes lunchmeat though, so he gets that. I also like to eat fish every so often, because I believe it’s healthy.

Vegetarian is a huge life change, but once you get into the groove of it, it’s easy. My coworker became one in October, she only slipped up once…at a family gathering, they told her a stew was meat free, but then told her after that the broth had meat stock in it. She wasn’t happy.

AstroChuck's avatar

@andrew- I had absolutely no problem gaining muscle mass back when I was working out (something I need to start doing again as I’m getting a bit doughy). Protein is abundant in non-meat sources such as legumes, etc.

Knotmyday's avatar

Eggy-milky veg here too, since the beginning of the year. At first I thought I would miss steaks, brats etc., and that I would feel like an asshole at my friend’s barbecues, but the transition was really easy.
Vitamin supplements help (though my SO was giving me too many, according to Shilolo. Flourescent pee, ewwww)
I feel GREAT. All of the beef and pork fat I had been ingesting was wrecking me- now my cholesterol is back down where it should be.
Cons- arguments with meat advocates.

Likeradar's avatar

@Myndecho “I don’t mind having dairy and eggs, I just don’t want harm to come to animals.” I’ve recently (because of fluther) been informed of the horrible conditions many dairy animals live with. I’ll try to find you links. I haven’t taken the steps to stop eating dairy yet though…

sjmc1989's avatar

I was under-weight already lacking nutrition and a picky eater and became a vegetarian this combination made me a bad example of a veg. After a year and a half and being only 90 lbs. my doctor said I either needed to start eating meat or see a nurtritionist so I went back to meat. (I still love my animals though :( ) I think as long as you are fairly healthy prior to becoming a veg and not picky with food and make sure you get balanced nutrients it is a great lifestyle to lead. And I agree it is exhausting explaining your beliefs to others

eadinad's avatar

-Much cheaper. Meat is one of the most expensive things. If you cut out all animal products, you’d probably save $50 – 100 per person per month.
-Easier cooking. Meat takes longer to cook than most other things. Plus, you don’t have to worry about bacterial contamination and keeping your utensils separate/washing shared surfaces, etc.
-Happy conscience : )

– People think they have a right to harass/insult you.
-You have to plan excursions/eating out more carefully.
-You have to be more careful and aware of what you are eating – both to avoid meat and to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

It’s really not that hard though. I went vegan cold turkey over a year ago and have never looked back.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

-less dead animals
-probably some degree of weight loss, but that depends on your body/your diet
-cheaper (again, depending on what you buy)
-much more healthy (if you choose to eat more veggies instead of more pizza, of course…)
-people can be douchebags to you (but you know, there are quite obviously vegetarian jerks too)
-you might have limited choices at restaurants/friend’s houses
-some people cannot eliminate meat from their diet without losing too much weight and just getting really unhealthy. it’s usually not something they can help, so you might have to try it and visit your doctor to make sure you’re still okay. (:

cyndyh's avatar

I spent more than a decade as a vegetarian. I raised two kids as vegetarians -one of which was a vegan for a while. I’m not now, but I’m “vegetarian sympathetic” and don’t feel the need to have meat at every meal.

It’s one way that you can make conscious efforts toward your health and/or politics. Just decide what your reasons are and make sure that’s what you’re really doing. If you’re doing it for health, don’t become what we used to call a “Doritos vegetarian”. If you’re doing it for treatment of animals, how consistent are you in the rest of your life? You get the idea.

It’s a lot easier to do these days with the choices at the supermarkets, farmer’s market’s, and restaurants than it used to be.

The steps you’re talking about making are much easier to shift into than a strictly vegan lifestyle -both in terms of finding choices and easier to keep healthy.

It really isn’t cheaper. You aren’t just taking away meat and the cost of meats from your diet. You’re buying more nuts, fresh vegetables, tofu, fresh fruits, and usually different grains than what the typical meat eater buys. I ended up spending more on nuts and tofu alone than I ever spent on meats.

When you first start it can be really hard to get used to reading every label to make sure you’re not getting anything you don’t want in your diet and making sure you’re getting the nutrients you need. And for fresh items that don’t strictly have a “label” there’s a lot of initial time that goes into researching the changes you’re making. This goes for researching which restaurants will work when you go out, too. But this gets easier over time. You get used to what you need and soon learn where you can get it. Until you get over that hump, though, it can seem overwhelming for a while.

If you’re doing this with your kids you have to be really diligent to be sure they’re getting what they need when you aren’t there. People can be jerks to your kids when it comes to their school lunch being changed or telling you they’ll give your kid one thing when they’re over at someone’s house and then doing another thing. Make sure your kids have a strategy for handling all sorts of situations when you aren’t around to advocate for them.

As for suggestions, I suggest concentrating on what healthy things you’re adding to your diet first like more fresh veggies, higher fiber foods, etc. Then slowly remove the worst meats and replace them with better proteins. It’s easier to change your cooking and dining out habits this way, too. You’re learning a bunch of new things you can do and not just some long list of things not to do. Then you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself. You’re learning positive healthy habits.

Here’s to your health. Cheers!

joeysefika's avatar

Also see this question asked a while back Side-effects of becoming a vegetarian

crisw's avatar


Why did you stop being a vegetarian, out of curiosity?

cyndyh's avatar

I like spiced meats. It was easier to balance a healthy diet with limited meats in it, but I really missed spicy meats once in a while.

Myndecho's avatar

I don’t think I’ll become vegetarian at this point in my live but I will try to avoid meats until a point in my life were it will be more sustainable.

andrew's avatar

@AstroChuck I don’t doubt it, but there are many of us that aren’t blessed with your superior genetics such that the estrogenatic effects of soy proteins make it hard for the rest of us to build mass. ;)

cyndyh's avatar

@andrew: B12 has a lot to do with that, too. Red blood cell production and building muscle. If you have spinach with pine nuts a few meals a week you’ll get your B12 and complete proteins. If you don’t like soy so much that’s a really good substitute. I’ve been trying to remember my source for this to pass it along, but I haven’t been able to so far. Sorry. I do know that a couple of spinach salads a week with pine nuts seems to help with all sorts of things.

crisw's avatar

Spinach and pine nuts are delicious, but they don’t have any B12. Vegetarians will get it from dairy products or eggs, but vegans need to get it from fortified foods, vitamins or nutritional yeast.

AstroChuck's avatar

@andrew- Good point. I had forgotten about the US army’s eugenics program my parents took part in.

Incidentally, Bill Pearl is a well known bodybuilder. He’s also a vegetarian.

cyndyh's avatar

@crisw : So, vegans have even less options than I thought? Does this mean vegans need to have beer or vegemite? :^>

crisw's avatar

Maybe Australian ones do :>)

Actually, there are plenty of vegan B12 supplements available to do the job.

cyndyh's avatar

I resent the whole Australians-get-to-have-beer-simply-by-virtue-of-being-Australian-and-the-rest-of-us-don’t thingie. :^>

I do know the scare over B12 deficiency is a bit overstated. I’ve known several vegetarians and vegans in my lifetime and I don’t think I’ve known one to have an actual documented deficiency in B12. But if someone is having issues with muscle building and they’re vegetarian that might be something to look at. I guess I jumped the gun with my statement above, though, about where to get B12. I guess I don’t remember this stuff as much as I thought I did.

Knotmyday's avatar

@cyndyh – I can vouch for the fact that going veg is a bit more expensive, esp. with pre-packaged stuff. Doesn’t discourage me, though, and folks in my office are supportive; especially since the “new me” has us all heading to Good Health for lunch. Mmmm.

Spinach and pine nuts, eh? Cool. Popeye was right!

cyndyh's avatar

@Knotmyday: It’s cool you have a supportive group around you. I had some very supportive folks and a few jerks around me.

I never got used to many veggies cooked, and spinach is among them. But raw spinach salad with pine nuts (and carrots, craisins, walnuts, blue cheese, etc.). Oh yeah. That’s worth forgoing the meat for at least a few meals a week all by itself. :^>

Ricky's avatar

I would say that for me their are no cons to being a vegetarian. The greatest pro for me is the compassion that has grown in me for all living beings.

YARNLADY's avatar

One of the advantages I don’t see here is ecologically more sound, because the meat-based food system requires more energy, land, and water resources.

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