Is eating less meat a smart way to reduce your environmental footprint? According to many experts, the answer is yes. Studies suggest that going vegetarian or vegan could cut your healthcare costs, too.
The advantages of vegetarianism have been known for centuries. Many people see it as a compassionate choice, and studies now back this up. Reducing your meat intake means you will consume less of the finite natural resources that go into creating it. It also means you will reduce your carbon footprint.
There are clear advantages to avoiding meat, but what about the disadvantages? Some experts believe that abstaining from meat may actually cause harm to your reproductive health. They say that a plant-based diet can interfere with the hormones that regulate human reproduction.
Why Are Scientists Concerned About Reproductive Health?
Over the last century, the world’s population has more than doubled, and it continues to grow. Researchers have put this growth down to improved living conditions and more available resources. However, as the human population continues to expand, so do the challenges we face as a planet. Climate change is one of the bigger issues, and reducing your environmental footprint is a key concern. The meat industry is a key source of environmental degradation, and cutting back on it is an important step towards sustainability.
This is not the only factor that concerns scientists. Other research suggests that a vegan diet can increase the risk of cancer. Experts say that meat, fish, and eggs contain nutrients that help protect your body against certain types of cancer. They also say that these foods contain compounds that can initiate and promote cancerous growth. Cutting back on meat may therefore be a step in the right direction environmentally, but it could potentially do more harm than good in terms of your health.
The Hormone Connection
One of the issues scientists have raised is that a vegan diet can change the levels of certain hormones in your body. These can alter the functioning of your endocrine system, which controls your hormones. Endocrine disruption is defined as the “…alteration in the function of the endocrine system, which regulates metabolic processes”. Your endocrine system is responsible for producing and maintaining health, and when it is disrupted, this can cause harm. This is particularly relevant to females, as they are more likely to suffer from the effects of endocrine disruption. The experts behind this concern are not saying that going vegan will necessarily cause you harm. However, they are saying that it can, and that it is therefore desirable to study the effects of a vegan diet on reproductive health.
The Oestro-Vegalitarian Hypothesis
The hypothesis behind this line of thinking is that since plants do not produce the hormones that your body needs to function, a vegan diet may interfere with the hormones that regulate your reproduction. There is some evidence to suggest that this may be the case. For example, studies have shown that cutting back on meat may increase your risk of PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This is an important reproductive health issue, as women with PCOS are more susceptible to complications during pregnancy, as well as increased risk of miscarriage and infertility. Some studies have also suggested that a vegan diet can decrease the amount of sex hormones present in your body, which may lead to symptoms similar to hypogonadism, including infertility.
Veganism And Infertility
One of the issues that have arisen due to the increasing popularity of veganism is whether or not it is possible to be infertile if you follow a vegan diet. The short answer: yes, it is possible. A number of studies have shown that a vegan diet can interfere with the functioning of the hypothalamus, which is the part of your brain that controls reproduction. This can lead to problems with your menstrual cycle and increased risk of infertility. It is important to note here that while it is possible to be infertile if you follow a vegan diet, this is not necessarily the case for all women. There are many factors that can determine if you are actually infertile or if you are just suffering from a bad case of polycystic ovary syndrome. Your ob/gyn or gyn doctor will be able to tell you for sure whether or not your infertility is diet-related. If it is, then it’s time to change your ways, and here’s the perfect opportunity to go vegan!
The Link To Cancer
Another concern that scientists have is that a vegan diet can increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers. There are a number of theories behind this link, but the most popular one is that the compounds in animal products can protect your body against cancer. Ingesting these compounds can cause your body to produce more of the same. While science cannot confirm whether or not these compounds truly protect your body against cancer, there is evidence to suggest that a vegan diet can increase your body’s production of hormones that aid in cell reproduction. This coupled with the fact that cancerous cells reproduce at an extremely high rate, can lead to an increased risk of cancer if you consume a lot of animal products. Whether or not cutting back on meat products will actually cause you to get sick with cancer is debatable. However, it is something to consider, especially since it is something that you can control. If you are worried about the effects that a vegan diet may have on your health, then you should definitely consider cutting back. Consult with your doctor to see if it’s time to change your ways.
The Bottom Line
While there are a number of advantages to a vegetarian diet, it is nonetheless desirable to study the effects that it has on reproductive health. For those who are worried about the effects that a vegan diet may have on their health, there are options other than cutting back completely on meat. You can try eating more veggies, fruits, and whole grains to get all the nutrition you need. You can also try taking supplements to ensure you get the nutrients you need. If you are still concerned about the effects that a vegan diet may have on your health, then it is probably a good idea to consult with your doctor or ob/gyn about alternative strategies.