4 reasons to go vegetarian in 2016

If you have been thinking about becoming a vegetarian, there’s no better time to make the switch than the beginning of a New Year. For those of you have been on the fence, 2015 provided us with a few more reasons — like saving money and losing weight — to make the dietary transformation.

Reason #1: Vegetarian diets increase metabolism. Vegetarians have a lower body mass index compared to those eating meat, which has been previously attributed to eating less calories. But a study published in July showed that vegetarians also had a higher resting metabolism. By simply doing their everyday routine, vegetarians burned more calories compared to non-vegetarians. If your New Year’s Resolution included weight loss, becoming a vegetarian may be a good way to do just that.

Reason #2: Vegetarian diets can save you money. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t have to be costly. A study published earlier last year showed that a vegetarian meal plan can actually save money over a meat-based plan. According to the study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, vegetarians can save nearly $750 annually! Over a lifetime, this can add up to thousands of dollars in savings. Who doesn’t like a little extra money in their pocket?

Reason #3: Even the government is noticing vegetarian diets are sustainable and healthy. Since the infamous McGovern Report in 1977 — which unsuccessfully tried to incorporate a more plant based diet into formal nutritional guidelines, the meat industry has lobbied heavily to keep meat a mainstay of American dishes. However, things may be about to change. Earlier this year, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which helps to create our Dietary Guidelines (think Food Pyramid and MyPlate), concluded that vegetarian diets are more healthy and environmentally friendly than their meaty alternatives. The formal Dietary Guidelines are still under review, but they may finally give vegetarians diets their due credit.

Reason #4: Processed meats cause colorectal cancer. If losing weight and saving money weren’t enough reasons to become a whole-hearted vegetarian, then maybe knowing that processed meats cause cancer might help you cut down on your total meat intake. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization released its landmark report denouncing bacon, hot dogs, sausages, ham, and other types of processed meat as Group 1 carcinogens – a category shared with cigarette smoking. Red meats were not far behind and were labelled as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Given that colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in America, who wouldn’t want to reduce their lifetime risk of getting cancer?

I have been a vegetarian for three years now, after making it my 2013 New Year’s Resolution in 2013, and it has been one of the best decisions of my life. For those of you who aren’t ready to make the switch, I am sure 2016 will have a few more reasons to jump on the veggie train.

Shivam Joshi is an internal medicine resident who blogs at afternoonrounds.  This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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