Women's Health: Meat-Free Diets, Vegetarian Diets

While only about 2.5% of Americans don’t eat meat, there’s an obvious interest in meat-free lifestyles. In-n-Out and Burger King offer veggie burgers and almost every store (including Starbuck's) carries soy milk. But what do meat-free diets really do for our bodies? Do they contribute to healthy weight loss? Are they even healthy? Well, let's see...

A Little Background...

If you're going to be meat-free you'll most likely fall into one of these three main lifestyle categories:

  • Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian: The majority of meat-free folks are in this group. This means meat, poultry, and fish are out, but eggs and dairy products are still in.
  • Lacto-Vegetarian: Same as above, minus the eggs.
  • Vegan: All animal products are out. Not just the meat, poulty, and fish, but eggs and dairy products too. About 1/3 of meat-free dieters are vegans.

Why Some are Swapping the Burger for the Veggie Burger?

According to a recent survey conducted by vegetarian newsletter Jupiter Rising, 72% of non-meat-eaters shun animal products for moral reasons. But what about the rest of the self-declared non-meat-eaters? Well for many, weight loss, so they think...

Heather Correy, 24, gave up meat when she was 16: “I thought it would be an easy way to lose weight. I figured hamburgers and steaks were fattening, so if I barred myself from eating them I’d be skinny in no time. Boy, was I wrong!” Correy’s attempt at weight loss had her replacing protein with high-fat and high-starch alternatives, like cheese and extra servings of garlic bread. “One year later I was 10 pounds heavier and anemic,” says Correy.

Anemia is often caused by a lack of iron, and iron is primarily found in meat. When someone’s anemic, they’re often tired, light-headed and suffer from weakness and headaches. It can be quite common for meat-free folks to become anemic if they're not finding other sources of iron.