Health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle

Could you benefit from going vegetarian?

Some of the most common questions we are asked by incoming guests at Eden are about our menu. What’s on it? How much do guests get to eat? Does Eden follow a vegetarian meal plan? While we do include a small amount of locally sourced seafood and organic meats in our menu, we also focus heavily on plant-based ingredients. 

These green goodies are the star of our Eden offerings – and for good reason. In this week’s blog, we will explore the benefits of a vegetarian way of eating, including limiting or eliminating meat and animal products from your diet.

Why consider going vegetarian?

Vegetarian eating has gained popularity worldwide for more than just ethical reasons. It’s an eating pattern that emphasises plant-based foods while excluding or limiting meat and animal products. Beyond the compassion for animals and the environment, adopting a vegetarian diet, or a diet based on plant-based foods with small additions of meat and animal products, can be incredibly beneficial to your health.

At Eden Health Retreat, our focus isn’t on eliminating anything ‘bad’ from your diet or lifestyle. Instead, we hope to show guests how to begin a new, positive way of living, starting from a clean slate. This includes softly educating guests on things like how to relearn good sleep hygiene, how to reduce screen time or reliance on digital devices, why daily movement, especially in nature, can help with weight and stress management, and how to enjoy nutritious meals that burst with colour and health-giving ingredients.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Studies consistently show that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It’s believed that this is due to the lower intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, along with a higher intake of fibre, antioxidants, and phytochemicals found in plant-based foods.

Weight Management

Vegetarian diets are often naturally lower in calories and saturated fats while being higher in fibre and complex carbohydrates. If you’re interested in increasing your intake of fibrous and complex carbs, enjoy kidney beans (one cup will provide you with one-third of your required daily fibre intake), berries, cruciferous vegetables, oats, chia seeds, and dark chocolate. 

Improved Heart Health

A vegetarian diet is heart-friendly in several ways. It reduces the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL). The absence of animal fats and the presence of heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, folate, and antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lower the risk of heart disease. Focusing on a plant-based diet or swapping some meat-based meals for plant-based ones regularly may help you to address cholesterol levels.

Better Blood Pressure Control

Lower sodium intake and the abundance of potassium-rich foods, like leafy greens and bananas, contribute to better blood pressure control for vegetarians. This, in turn, reduces the risk of hypertension and related health complications.

Enhanced Digestive Health

A diet rich in plant-based foods supports a healthy digestive system. The fibre in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains promotes regular bowel movements and helps prevent issues like constipation and diverticulitis. Additionally, it nurtures a balanced gut microbiome, which has a wide-ranging impact on overall health. If your bowel habits could be improved, try to increase your intake of fibrous foods, along with an increase in the amount of water you drink. If you’re unsure of how much water your body needs, a good rule to remember is to drink 35 millilitres of fluid per kilogram of bodyweight. (For instance, if you weigh 80kg, then aim for 2.8litres of water each day). Remember that you will need to increase your water intake if you are active and during the hotter months of the year.

At Eden, we encourage you to discover the way of eating that suits you and your lifestyle best. If you do wish to reduce your intake of animal protein and products, why not start off by enjoying a meat-free Monday every week. Download Eden’s recipe book for some wonderful inspiration in the kitchen, located here – you can choose to add or eliminate the animal-protein elements. Experiment with the mouth watering array of plants, fruits, and vegetables Mother Nature provides – and enjoy every mouthful.

Note: If you’re considering adopting a vegetarian diet, consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to ensure you’re meeting all your dietary needs while enjoying the numerous health benefits.