The vegan and vegetarian lifestyle has become ridiculously popular thanks to the green juicing fad that’s taken over Hollywood. More and more people have been turning away from animal products in the hope of having a healthier (and more animal friendly) diet.
However, going on this health kick isn’t always easy, especially when your current dietary habits make you hesitant to do so.
Because I didn’t think I’d be able to fully commit to a strict diet without animal protein, I felt as if my options were limited. When I first learned about the pescetarian diet, I was a bit skeptical. I come from a Haitian and French family, which means that getting together usually involves a lot of red meat dishes.
As a test, I slowly added more seafood, legumes to my diet and ate less meat, letting myself to get used to it before making a commitment. While it hasn’t always been an easy journey, the results that I’ve seen so far are pretty amazing.
Whether you’re transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or simply want to cut out red meat and poultry from your diet, there are a lot of benefits that come with being a pescetarian.
1. A legumes and nuts based diet is a high source of vitamins and minerals.
A typical pescetarian diet is packed with essential minerals and vitamins, including: calcium, iron, magnesium, iodine, riboflavin, vitamin A, thiamin (B1), vitamin C, vitamin D and thiamin (B1); the list goes on. If that’s not reason enough to try a pescetarian diet, keep reading.
2. You’ll have a longer lifespan.
Red meat contains a lot of saturated fats, which can eventually build up and clog your arteries. According to Archives of Internal Medicine, adding a healthy amount of seafood to your diet will actually make you live longer.
Researchers examined data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study, which detailed the diets of over 37,000 men and 84,000 women from 1986 – 2008 and 1980 – 2008 respectively.
They found that “substitutions of 1 serving per day of other foods (including fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy and whole grains) for 1 serving per day of red meat were associated with a 7% to 19% lower mortality risk. [They] also estimated that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women in these cohorts could be prevented at the end of follow-up if all the individuals consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day (approximately 42 g/d) of red meat.”
We’re always told that eating too much red meat can lead to crazy health risks later on in life, such as diabetes and heart disease. If lowering your red meat consumption by just one serving per day can have that much of an effect on your overall health, it may worth it to give it a try in the long run.
If you’re low on ideas, there are plenty of pinterest boards dedicated to making tasty, mouthwatering meals that are also pescetarian friendly.
3. Having a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, fish/shellfish, whole grains and nuts will lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent other health ailments.
Fish such as salmon and tuna are super rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been known to decrease the risk of high blood cholesterol as well as high blood pressure. That doesn’t mean that you should stick to eating fish only though. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends eating less than 12 ounces a week in order to avoid absorbing too much mercury, the levels of which vary in fish and shellfish.
Basically, eat everything in moderation; it’s all about having the perfect balance between seafood, whole grains, fruits, etc. Mix in broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and spinach for an even heartier meal.
4. It’ll help you shed those pounds faster!
Not only is it full of protein and disease-fighting fatty acids, but it promotes weight loss and muscle growth. Ever since I was a kid, my stomach has always been my problem area. I haven’t been at it long enough to notice any major changes yet, but switching to a healthier diet has made me feel a lot more confident.
5. It’s a great way to combat stress and depression.
Last year, I went through one of the hardest experiences of my life. Overwhelmed from being a full-time graduate student and editor at the same time, I started experiencing physical stress and anxiety symptoms including muscle spasms and a racing heart.
Some days, I spent more time in the emergency room and at doctor visits than at school. I tried everything to get rid of my stress, including breathing exercises and fitness classes; even though they helped immensely, it wasn’t until I changed my diet that I really started to notice a difference in how my body handled stress.
It’s been proven that omega-3 fatty acids lower your risk of depression, stress and anxiety; they also promote long-term memory. This study published by the French Academy of Medicine’s J.M. Bourre mentions that “the optimum dietary ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, given as capsules prepared from vegetable oils, to counteract stress, is 4 for linoleic acid and ALA. This will protect particularly against changes in the hippocampus in response to excess cortisol and corticosteroids.”
It’s interesting to note that these acids also combat aggressive behavior in young adults and older people.
Also, taking in about two grams of these fatty acids can reduce postnatal depression rates, as seen in a study that analyzed the diets of 23 countries that ate less fish. The crazy thing is that the study actually found that women who didn’t have DHA in their breast milk were more likely to develop post-natal depression.
What could be better than a lifestyle that positively impacts your physical, mental and emotional health at the same time? Have I convinced you yet to give a pescetarian diet a try? Let us know what you think.