12 Reasons a Vegetarian Diet Is a Good Idea

As a former vegetarian, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever go back to full-time veggiehood. (Wings are my weakness!) But my meat-free years taught me a lot about healthy cooking and eating, including what to do with tempeh, how to make broccoli sing, and the trick to turning a can of beans into a meal. I still use those skills all the time—I’d call my diet vegetable-leaning—so I’m excited to share the veggie magic in honor of World Vegetarian Day (coming up October 1st). Whether you’re already a vegetarian, considering making the leap, or could simply use a nudge to eat more meatless meals (part-time vegetarians get health benefits too!), here are 12 reasons why eating a more plant-based diet is a good idea.

1. You’ll discover the wild culinary world of mushrooms, which also have amazing immune system benefits. There’s more to ‘shrooms then Portobello burgers! Make vegan bacon and other “who-knew?” mushroom recipes.

2. Tons of celebs are doing it. From Miley Cyrus to Cory Booker, it’s easy to find a veggie idol for you.

3. Beans are just as satisfying as beef, says a study in the Journal of Food Science. When participants ate a bean-based dish, they were just as full a few hours later as others who ate meatloaf.

4. Tofu always costs less than steak. And once you learn how to cook it (like with these 6 new ways to eat tofu), your meals have the potential to taste just as good… if not better.

5. It might be easier to lose weight. In a German study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, dieters who switched to vegetarian plans shed more pounds than those on a non-vegetarian regimen. Vegans fared even better.

6. You’ll intersect with dining trends. More and more chefs are putting vegetables center-stage, so you’re no longer left with the one token vegetarian pasta entree when you go out to eat.

7. Because veggie burgers have come a loooong way. I’d take one of these vegetarian crazy-good burger recipes over a beef patty any day. And have you tried Beyond Meat’s high protein veggie burger?

8. It’s good for the planet. Plant-based diets use fewer natural resources. And one study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that even semi-vegetarian diets are responsible for 22 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

9. Your heart will get a boost. Vegetarians are at a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, reports the American Heart Association.

10. And so will your brain. Veggie-rich diets are associated with a lower risk of depression, finds a Spanish study published in BMC Medicine, and leafy greens may keep your brain sharp as you get older, reports the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

11. You’ll literally glow. The pigments in fruits and vegetables give your skin a better sun-kissed glow than the actual sun or sunless tanner, find British researchers. The study also reports that the glow makes you more attractive to others.

12. And the ultimate win… you’ll live longer. Research from Loma Linda University suggests that vegetarians have a lower mortality risk. More years = victory!

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