Answers To The Controversial Topic – Meat Vs. No Meat

The very popular Lacto-Ovo diet, more commonly known as vegetarianism, omits meat completely and consists only of grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, and eggs.  Wikipedia explains “Generally speaking when using the term vegetarian, an Ovo-Lacto vegetarian is assumed. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians are often well-catered to in restaurants and shops, especially in  North America.” The term Lacto-Ovo refers to dairy (Lacto) and eggs (Ovo).”

Although this diet has been popular for many decades, it has been a controversial topic in recent years. The argument, of course, is whether or not the body actually needs meat and animal by-products to remain healthy and strong. This leads to the question – are non-meat eaters at more risk of physical and mental illness? Research suggests that those who are vegetarian are 75% less likely to drink and smoke and are in general more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.

A Little History

Vegetarianism had to have begun somewhere right? explains that “The avoidance of flesh-eating is first recorded as a teaching of the philosopher Pythagoras of Samos (c. 530 BCE), who alleged the kinship of all animals as one basis for human benevolence toward other creatures.” It was later in the 18th century that Scottish physician George Cheyne advocated the idea by promoting a milk and vegetable diet to treat obesity and other health problems. During the 19th century, the diet became more associated with naturopathy.

This diet at one time was thought to reduce the risk of heart complications, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Something else that was considered was the fact that vegetarians lower their intake of environmental contaminants and therefore greatly reduce the risk of contracting many foodborne illnesses.

Factors to Consider

Qi Sun, MD, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health said back in 2016 “For generally healthy people, I don’t see any reason that eating a vegetarian diet is risky to health,”

But there have been more recent studies that say something different. Quite a few scientists, medical professionals and even dieticians have written articles explaining that the trend toward vegetarian diets may lead to a “choline crisis.” Choline is a nutrient that’s important for brain health and other functions. It’s found in meat and poultry, and the body can’t produce all the choline the body needs on its own. The American heart association mentions that “eating a few eggs a week can really help boost choline intake.” And that vegans should also consider a supplement, especially women of childbearing age.

Another factor to consider is the meat alternative options. What happens, especially in premade frozen meals, is that the companies that make these products want to include cheap meat alternatives that can contain bad carbohydrates and trans fats. Why? Because it’s a cheaper option. Plus, they capture an on-trend market.

frozen, boxed, meat lacto-ovo

A recent poll by the Vegetarian Resource Group found that 46% of meat-eating respondents say they sometimes eat vegetarian meals when dining out. The top reason? Health.   

There is no doubt about it, including meat and eggs in your diet on a regular basis has proven for some to be very beneficial. These foods are prime sources of protein and iron and give us the satisfaction of feeling full.

The Bottom Line

Again we come to the question. Are the elimination of fish, poultry, and meat the healthier option?

Here is the best answer I can find. explains that “your overall dietary pattern matters a lot more than any single food does.” In other words, it doesn’t matter that you have vegetarian meals every day, what matters is that you consume the necessary amount of nutrients every day to keep yourself healthy and strong and that could look different for everyone.

Questions to Consider before switching to a Lacto-Ovo diet. 

Am I willing to give up meat, fish, and poultry? – It is in fact a lifestyle change. Remember that no meat means a whole new ballgame when grocery shopping. Substituting bacon at breakfast or steak for tofu at dinner. Most vegetarian diets involve longer prep times and more cooking knowledge. Your shopping frequency will change as these diets mainly include foods that spoil quicker. It may seem like a minor adjustment but not everyone can make the switch so easily.

raw meat, vegetables, chicken, pork, sausage

Do I understand that I may need to take vitamin supplements? – Certain nutrient requirements may be difficult to achieve through fortified foods alone. These diets can require you to pay special attention to your nutrient intake. Eliminating meat from your diet means you may be at risk for vitamin deficiencies. Vegetarians need to make sure they get enough iron and vitamin B12, and vegans enough calcium, iron and vitamin B12. Women are thought to be at particular risk of iron deficiency, including those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

vitamins, bottle

Do I understand that this diet does not guarantee weight loss of any kind? – No study can confirm if vegetarian diets actually aid in losing weight. Leslie Beck, a private practice dietitian, and director of food and nutrition at Medcan explain that “Going vegan might seem like an easy way to lose weight. Giving up meat, dairy and eggs should help you eat fewer calories each day, right? Not necessarily. If you don’t do it correctly, swapping meat-based for plant-based can result in holding on to unwanted pounds, or perhaps even gaining a few.

weight loss, measuring tape, man lacto-ovo

Do I understand that I am susceptible to eating too many carbs? In general, when switching to a no-meat diet, people are not fully satisfied at first with just a salad at lunch. Many turn to fatty foods to make themselves feel fuller. It can be easy to turn a vegetarian diet into an unhealthy diet by eating too many processed carbs (desserts, bread, or fast food). simply by reducing the consumption of greasy foods and substituting with fibrous vegetables, beans/legumes, fruits, and whole grains you can feel fuller for longer.

Important note **If you are not sure what is right for you talk to your doctor, health professional or nutritionist. **

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