When it comes to a vegetarian diet, there are a lot of needless misconceptions floating around. For starters, the vegetarian diet is not very restrictive, all things considered. It can actually be a well-balanced, varied, and healthy choice(opens in a new tab) for people of all ages.  And with nutrition-rich options like legumes, nuts, and quinoa, getting enough protein is a breeze! In the spirit of dispelling rumors, here are six other benefits of a vegetarian diet that you may not know: 1.Longer lives: On average, vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eschew all animal products) live almost 15 years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University. Similarly, the China Health Project found that Chinese people who eat the least amount of fat and animal products have the lowest risks of cancer(opens in a new tab), heart attack, and other chronic diseases. 2.Happy hearts: Vegetarian diets ward off the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, a fact especially worth noting for women (the fatality rate for women who have heart attacks is 53% as opposed to 47% for men). Since produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters. 3.Money in the bank: Contrary to belief, it is not more expensive to choose a vegetarian diet. In fact, replacing meat with vegetables and fruits can cut food bills by an average of $4,000 a year. 4.Cancer risk reduction: The National Cancer Institute says that vegetarian women are nearly four times less likely to develop breast cancer than those who eat meat. The German Cancer Research Center posits that vegetarians' immune systems are more effective in killing off tumor cells than meat eaters'. Turns out, a plant-based diet helps reduce the likelihood of prostate, colon, and skin cancers, too. 5.Feed the world: According to the Journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots—or just 250 pounds of beef. 6.Water conservation: It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, but just 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat(opens in a new tab)!  So a vegetarian diet is not only healthy for your body, but also the planet.

What are questions you have about a vegetarian diet? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below—we’d love to hear what you think!