Vegetarian Eating and Asthma

Last updated: December 2020

When I read about cured meats and asthma it got me wondering if my vegetarian diet has any bearing on my asthma control. I personally am a fairly low key vegetarian. I neither obsessively read labels nor ask about the origins of every ingredient in a dish. I have had some hidden chicken broth or other animal products over the years I am sure. I don't kid myself that potatoes au gratin, salad, and pumpkin pie is a balanced or healthy dinner at a potluck.

All that said while I personally don't miss eating meat, it isn't always easy. There are many wonderful dishes and restaurants to enjoy. However, like any lifestyle change, the shift can be hard, and lots of people will have opinions to share with you about your eating habits. I personally find it is easy to be vegetarian since I take a low-key approach. I don't eat meat but I don't extoll the virtues to those around me especially over a meal. Depending on how strict you are with your definition I may not be a "real" vegetarian at all. I don't eat meat or things that obviously contain meat but I am not careful about tracking down ingredients. I'm sure I've consumed some soups made or other dishes made with Chicken or Beef stock and other foods made with not so obvious animal products.

Vegetarian diet's impact on asthma

It is unsurprising to me that science does not really have a good answer for me on whether my vegetarian eating habits are positive, negative or neutral for my asthma control. I know I'm not the only one who is a vegetarian but has a small serving of meat on occasion out of ignorance or to avoid a social faux pas. I will also point out that a diet of potato chips and cola is vegetarian, even vegan if you will. Just because a diet is free of meat or any other food category doesn't make it a healthy balanced choice.

I did not find a satisfactory answer to whether my vegetarian eating habits help or hurt my asthma control. There are plenty of anecdotal stories on both sides of the issue. A weak correlation between asthma and a vegetarian diet was found by one study of people in the UK.1 However, the researchers concluded that there were no clear relationships between diet and asthma in adults.1 Absent a cause and effect relationship between asthma and vegetarian diets I will probably keep on keeping on. It's been 10 years and at this point, I'm unsure how my system would adjust to adding meat back into my diet on a regular basis. I'll do my best to incorporate lots of different fruits and vegetables into my life and not so many different types of chips and cookies. I am a firm believer that all things are best in moderation and try to keep things pretty balanced on the dietary front. How about you? Do you find a vegetarian or vegan diet helpful in your asthma control?

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