There's no doubt that a diet rich in plant-based foods has a torrent of health benefits, but is it really necessary to forgo meat for good? In an article for Insider, Essence Nutrition founder Monica Auslander, MS, RD, sets the record straight.
According to Auslander, vegetarians do enjoy some science-backed benefits such as changes in their skin quality and energy levels. However, she notes that there are a number of myths about going meat-free. Namely, she points out, that the biggest culprits associated with weight gain and a sluggish metabolism, such as processed foods, could be present in a meat-free diet, too.
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A diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables that contain vitamin C is shown to improve skin elasticity. Auslander also points to studies that suggest cutting deli meats from your diet could also reduce inflammation.
"Metabolism is a very complicated animal," says Auslander. Foods that could inhibit metabolic function, such as refined carbohydrates and processed snacks, can still be found in a meat-free diet, so it's not guaranteed, she says.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is likely to hydrate you more, which Auslander says will instantly improve energy levels.
"A diet that revolves around fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans could improve the lustrousness of your hair and nails," she says.
Weight loss is a common myth associated with vegetarianism, says Auslander. Refined carbohydrates can wreak havoc on your waistline and can be found in both vegetarian and meat-inclusive diets.
Ready to try a meat-free week? This vegetarian meal planner proves plant-based diets don't have to be boring.