There has been a trend going around for years that teaches that vegan/vegetarianism is the best way to eat and live. Unfortunately, being a vegetarian is not for everyone and can actually cause dangerous health issues if it is a long-term choice.
Animal based foods (yogurt, cheese, eggs, etc.) as well as meat (organic and grass-fed) have essential sulfur-containing amino acids in them that your body cannot create itself or obtain from any other food. Sulfur deficiencies put you at risk for obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and chronic fatigue. Sulfur actually aids the body in electron transport, synthesizing glutathione, regulates insulin production, and detoxification.
Vegetarian diets (and sometimes vegan diets) can cause deficiencies in B12, creatine, carnosine, vitamin D3, omega-3 DHA, heme iron, taurine, and sulfur so they must be carefully researched before entering into this type of diet. For a lot of people just eating animal products (yogurt, eggs, cheese, etc.) is enough to avoid becoming deficient in certain areas. However, you must understand that some people just have to eat meat in order to keep their bodies in proper working order.
Soy is something that I NEVER encourage or recommend to my clients because it tends to be very processed which can cause hormone disruptions and other problems. Some forms of soy are okay, but only if they are organic and non-GMO-otherwise, stay away!
Eating animal products that have been highly processed, have been fed GMO grain or corn, or contain hormones will create more health problems and will not be beneficial to your body. Try and eat as much organic, non-GMO, and grass-fed as often as possible. The best kinds of animal based products are whole milk yogurt (none of that non-fat crap; we'll talk about that later), raw cheese (sheep, cow, goat), grass-fed/organic beef, organic chicken & turkey, lamb, goat, free-range/organic eggs, and whole milk products (milk, sour cream, butter, etc.).
I recommend that you speak to a health professional about your personal health needs. If you decide that you would like to try a vegetarian diet because you think it will make you healthier, please understand the risks first. Short term stints are okay and can be beneficial for certain persons.
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this topic. I will be posting some more about animal based products and why they are so important for athletes at a later date.
Until next time,