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Vegetarian vs Non Vegetarian Diet - Which is Better?

Dt. Ruchi Goyal 93% (1248 ratings)
M.Phil Biotech & PGD Dietitics
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Panchkula  •  5 years experience
Vegetarian vs Non Vegetarian Diet - Which is Better?

There has been an intense debate, which is in the loop for years and has been raging back and forth regarding the deficiencies of a vegetarian diet versus the perils of a non-vegetarian one. This heated debate is both accurate as well as unfounded. Probably, that’s the entire reason it is still a debate. In fact, if you look into the diet of both groups, you will be able to identify the fact that, there is a space for healthy living in both.

Vegetarian Diet

In a vegetarian diet, the food intake of a person is confined to a large variety of foods derived from plants along with milk and dairy. And, any form of meat and products derived from animals are completely avoided.

Pros

  • Vegetarians have been noted to consume lesser amount of proteins, but they do not suffer from problems related to a high protein diet, such as osteoporosis (characterized by brittle and weak bones) and kidney failure.
  • The diet includes high level of antioxidants such as vitamin E & C as well as carotene, which is available in vegetables and fruits.
  • Additionally, they consume less amount of saturated fats.

Cons

  • Deficiency of vitamin B12 is common amongst vegetarians, as it is mainly available in meat, eggs and fish. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can yield rare symptoms such as increased fatigue, shortness of breath and a temporary loss of body balance.
  • Lack of protein, as stated above, along with iron and zinc deficiency is also common. 

Symptoms of protein deficiency can be troublesome and include signs like

  1. Sluggish metabolism
  2. Loss of body muscles (as the body tries to derive the regular protein intake from your muscles, thus making them weak),
  3. Trouble gaining or losing weight
  4. Persistent fatigue
  5. Longer healing time in case of wounds and injuries
  6. Pain in joints
  7. Drastic changes in blood sugar level that might result in diabetes
  8. A weak immune system makes you vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.

Non-vegetarian Diet

A non-vegetarian diet includes all forms of plant foods as well as foods and by-products that are derived from animals, such as poultry, fish, meat, etc.

Pros 

  • Vitamin B12 is present in adequate level since they are derived from sources such as meat, eggs and fish. Adequate intake of proteins is never an issue for  non-vegetarians

Cons

  1. Meat products are loaded with saturated fats, which increase the risk of heart diseases. Studies have shown that people consuming non-vegetarian diets:
    • Have shorter lifespan and are more vulnerable to chronic diseases.
    • Tend to develop diabetes, heart diseases and hypertension.
  2. Usually non vegetarians eat less amount of vegetables and fruits than what is recommended.  

If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Dietitian/Nutritionist.

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