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Many people make the choice to go veggie for supposed health reasons, but is it really better for your body?

An increasing number of people use the New Year as a time for change, often switching to a different diet in an attempt to lose weight or get fitter. Some of you may have opted to go full veggie in 2019 - but this may be a little unnecessary. Research suggests meat eaters are healthier in general than vegetarians.

The University of Graz discovered this was the case across three main areas:

  • Risk of cancer
  • Allergies
  • Risk of mental health issues

According to the study, vegetarians are more likely to be ill in general, while there is also an increased risk of conditions such as cancer and heart attacks.

Vegetarians were also found to be more susceptible to mental health issues, which was reported via personal feedback.

What the science doesn't say

This study showed a link between those who eat meat and better general health. It did not say 'eating meat makes you healthier' or 'eating a vegetarian diet is bad for you'.

Nevertheless, researchers behind the study wrote:

"Our study has shown adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders)."

Most evidence suggests we should be consuming a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense food of all kinds - meat and veg included.

The risks of red meat

Red meat has previously been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer, but this isn't a strong enough link to abandon all forms of animal protein.

The biggest risks are found in processed red meat, such as vacuum-packed ham and bacon. Moderate consumption is unlikely to cause much harm. If you can, limit your red meat intake to animals that have been fed their natural diet. Grass-fed beef, for example.

For general health, it isn't worth obsessing over whether you're eating meat or not. The amount of exercise you do, combined with nutrient-rich whole foods have a far greater impact.

If you're looking to lose weight, adopting a slight calorie deficit will work - irrespective of whether you're tucking into some turkey or not.

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