How Meat-Free Meals Can Boost Your Health

How meat-free meals can boost your health

It’d be hard not to be aware that eating less meat is a bit of a trend. We’re seeing vegetarian and vegan restaurants, cookbooks and ingredients go mainstream, and lots of us have probably tried some of the new meat-free, plant-based proteins that are popping up everywhere from the local burger bar to the supermarket chiller.

While we shouldn’t think of meat-free eating as a shortcut to health – it’s equally possible to eat an unhealthy vegetarian diet as it is to eat an unhealthy meaty one – there are some good reasons why eating less meat, in a well-planned way, is a potential plus for our health.

You’ll eat more plants

If there’s one thing every nutrition expert worth their salt agrees on, it’s the fact that eating more plants is a great idea. Every one of us could probably benefit from doing this. That’s because plant foods are nutrient dense, and contain tons of things we know to be beneficial to our health, including vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. If you’re planning your meat-free meals well and including tons of whole, unprocessed vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, then you’re going to give your plant intake a boost, and your health as well.

You’ll lower your risk of disease

Evidence suggests people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to be healthier: they have lower cholesterol and blood pressure and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases compared to those who eat meat.

Interested in giving WOOP Vegetarian a try?

You might lose weight

As above, you can still pack on the kilos eating a poorly-planned, junk-food vegetarian or vegan diet. But vegetarians who eat a mostly whole, balanced diet tend to have lower body weights. And because plant foods are full of fibre, they tend to make us feel fuller for longer, which can mean we steer away from overeating. Even if you’re just replacing a few of your meat-based meals with plant-based ones, you might find you drop a bit of weight.

You’ll get all the nutrition you need

You may have heard that if you don’t eat animal products, you could miss out on important nutrition; things like iron, calcium and protein. While this is possible – and vegans need to be especially careful, and usually need supplements of vitamin B12 to avoid deficiency – if you’re eating healthy and balanced meat-free meals, you’re going to get all the nutrients you need. Choose your protein carefully; for maximum nutrition it’s best to go for whole food sources like legumes, nuts and seeds rather than processed meat replacements.

So there’s really nothing to lose and lots to gain by giving meat-free eating a go. If you’re not too sure where to start or you’re short on inspiration, why not let someone else do the hard work for you, and try the new Woop Vegetarian box. It’s designed to be balanced and nutritious; a perfect and convenient option for vegetarians or anyone looking to get more plants on their plate.

Interested in giving WOOP Vegetarian a try?

By nutrition expert – Niki Bezzant

Niki

Niki Bezzant is a writer, speaker and commentator who is passionate about food and health. Niki has been involved in the food media for 20 years. She was founding editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine, and is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday, the Monday Herald Be Well, and a frequent contributor to broadcast media. She is a proud ambassador for the Garden to Table  programme which helps kids learn how to grow, cook and share food. She is a member of the Council of Directors for the True Health Initiative and a board member for the NZ Nutrition Foundation.