Shocking Ways Being a Vegetarian Can Change Your Body and Mind

If you’ve ever considered going vegetarian, you’ve probably done your research. And you may have heard that eliminating meat from your diet can save you money, boost your energy, and even help the environment. But the truth is, both your body and mind might change in ways that may surprise you.

You may become anemic

Sliced grilled beef barbecue on a wooden board

Animal proteins are full of iron. | iStock.com

Animal proteins are a top source of iron, so it’s easy to become anemic when you give up meat. This is a common problem for vegetarians, but you can keep your iron intake up by eating plenty of leafy greens and nuts and taking supplements.

You might bloat at first

Woman holds her bloated stomach

You may feel your stomach start to bloat. | iStock.com/champja

You’ve probably heard that going vegetarian can improve your digestion, but for some, it’s a lengthy process. All the indigestible carbohydrates in plant protein sources and other plant-based foods can alter the bacterial profile in your intestines, causing you to bloat. But don’t worry, it’s temporary, and the new bacteria is healthy.

Your tastes might change … literally

Nuts in bowls

Nuts have a good amount of zinc. | Margouillatphotos/iStock/Getty Images

After you’ve made the switch to meatless, you could very well notice that you don’t taste food like you used to. This is due to a decrease in zinc, which is most plentiful in oysters and red meat and happens to be crucial for taste and hearing. Vegetarians may actually need more zinc than meat-eaters — zinc is found in beans, nuts, and yogurt, but the phytic acid in whole grains, seeds, beans, and legumes can interfere with zinc absorption.

If you notice you’re not tasting food like you used to, alter your diet and consider adding a zinc supplement.

You could get depressed

bored sad woman on couch

Vegetarians are more likely to feel depressed. | Tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Some people report feeling a “vegan high” when they first give up meat, but a recent study has linked vegetarianism to depression. Since eating a balanced diet is essential when you don’t eat meat, vegetarians and vegans may be low on the vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that are essential to neurological function. Add back what you’ve been lacking through your diet and supplements to make sure your mood stays balanced.

You could feel restless at night

Young woman in bed unable to sleep

It may become difficult to fall asleep at night. | iStock.com/twinsterphoto

Eating a lot of meat, especially red meat, is known to make you feel sluggish and sleepy. On the contrary, you might feel new bursts of energy once you start living the vegetarian life. And that’s all great until you lie down to sleep and realize you’re still full of energy.

 You’ll probably snack more

Girl opens the fridge with food

Be mindful of what you snack on. | iStock.com/Choreograph

While it’s a myth that most vegetarians don’t get enough protein, if you go directly from getting your protein from meat to giving up meat entirely, your body will go into survival mode. Be careful, or you could end up eating a lot of starchy snacks like crackers and pretzels — keep your energy up with almonds or Greek yogurt instead.

Your skin might look better

woman looking at mirror

Your skin will clear up. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

If you eat a nutritious diet as a vegetarian, your skin will look noticeably better. The vitamins in fruits and vegetables combat free radicals and are high in antioxidants, leading to that gorgeous skin glow.

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