The Superior Diet: Vegetarians vs Omnivores

Isabella Swartz
Show Some STEMpathy
5 min readSep 27, 2018
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarian food is actually good sometimes (Image Credit: Vegetarian Times).
Many people have second thoughts about vegetarianism, including Ron Swanson (Image Credit: Reddit).

A few years ago, my older sister read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. And, ever since the day she finished that book, she has been a vegetarian.

So, this summer, I read Eating Animals in an attempt to understand why my older sister turned vegetarian. As expected, I finished the book feeling depressed, disgusted, and lost. To the best of my knowledge, being an omnivore is unhealthy but provides valuable nutrients and is unethical but traditional. Putting science to good use, I decided to research the benefits and harms of a vegetarian diet and an omnivore diet.

Vegetarian Diet


Even devoted omnivores must accept that vegetarianism has some benefits (Image Credit: Giphy).

The risk of getting colorectal cancer is lowered. In a meta-analysis by Godos et al., a semi-vegetarian diet led to a lower risk of colorectal cancer than a non-vegetarian diet.

Vegetarians are open to new experiences. In a study by Forestell et al., vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, and omnivores were surveyed to investigate whether their personalities differ. And they do! Vegetarians are more willing to experiment and try new things.


For all vegetarians, please be aware of what nutrients and vitamins you need in your diet. Supplements are your friends! (Image Credit: Walgreens).

Many vegetarians miss out on vital nutrients and vitamins. It can be difficult — if not impossible — to find vitamin B12, calcium, iron, or zinc in vegetarian foods. Vegetarians always need to make sure that they consume enough vitamins from their food and alternative sources to stay healthy.

Vegetarianism can make eating disorders worse. According to a study by Heiss et al., with a vegetarian diet, people enforce greater control over their diet and avoid meat. However, meat avoidance is sometimes used to hide eating disorder symptoms and adhering to strict dietary rules encourages those with eating disorders to restrict their eating. Vegetarianism is also harmful to those recovering from eating disorders, too. By avoiding meat, recovery can be interfered with by macronutrient deficiencies.

Omnivore Diet


When you’re an omnivore, you won’t need to waste time searching for a non-existent tofu stash (Image Credit: Giphy).

Being an omnivore is easy. The majority of the world eats meat, and you don’t need to find any food substitutes or tell hosts to hide the bacon. So, no time is wasted checking ingredient lists for animal fat, concocting yet another bean dish, or desperately searching for a decent meat-free meal on the menu.

Omnivores tend to be less depressed than vegetarians. In the same study investigating the personality differences among vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, and omnivores, fewer omnivores showed signs of depression than vegetarians did.


For years, meat production and consumption have been controversial (Image Credit: The Humane Society of the United States).

As thoroughly proved by Eating Animals, if you’re an omnivore, you unintentionally support an unethical, inhumane food system. Almost no meat producers treat their animals like the living, breathing creatures they are, even if they labelled as organic, free-range, grass-fed, or cage-free. By continuing to buy meat from these cruel companies, you financially support them.

Omnivores have a higher BMI (body mass index), total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein)-cholesterol, glucose levels, and risk of ischemic heart disease and total cancer than vegetarians. In a meta-analysis by Dinu et al. that included eighty-six cross-sectional studies and ten cohort prospective studies, vegetarianism was shown to lower the risks of these health issues.


It’s time to make a decision! (Image Credit: Giphy).

Becoming a vegetarian or staying an omnivore is a difficult choice to make. Overall, both diets have their pros and cons. What really matters is what you value more and what you are able to handle. If you care about animal welfare and believe that you can maintain a safe amount of control over your diet, vegetarianism is for you. Just make sure that you get enough nutrients! If you do not have the time or resources to become vegetarian, don’t push it. Vegetarianism is a commitment, and if you aren’t careful, it can damage your health and well-being. Just make sure that you stay aware of what you eat and where it comes from!

Works Cited

Dinu, Monica, et al. “Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 57, no. 17, 6 Feb. 2016, pp. 3640–49. Taylor Francis Online, doi:10.1080/10408398.2016.1138447. Accessed 22 Sept. 2018.

Forestell, Catherine A., and John B. Nezlek. “Vegetarianism, depression, and the five factor model of personality.” Ecology of Food and Nutrition, vol. 57, no. 3, 29 Mar. 2018, pp. 246–59. Taylor Francis Online, doi:10.1080/03670244.2018.1455675. Accessed 20 Sept. 2018.

Godos, J., et al. “Vegetarianism and breast, colorectal and prostate cancer risk: an overview and meta‐analysis of cohort studies.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 30, no. 3, 6 Oct. 2016. Wiley Onlien Library, doi:10.1111/jhn.12426. Accessed 20 Sept. 2018.

Heiss, Sydney, et al. “Eating and health behaviors in vegans compared to omnivores: Dispelling common myths.” Appetite, vol. 118, Nov. 2017, pp. 129–35. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.appet.2017.08.001. Accessed 20 Sept. 2018.

— -. “4 — Vegetarianism and Eating Disorders.” Vegetarian and Plant-Based Diets in Health and Disease Prevention, 2017, pp. 51–69. ScienceDirect, Accessed 20 Sept. 2018.

Isabella Swartz


To learn more about making your voice heard, visit us at our website. To take action, sign and share our petition to safeguard science in our schools, communities, and futures. To be a part of our conversation, join us on Twitter@ScienceTeens, on Instagram at scienceteens, and on Snapchat at march4science.