Thinking About Eating a Vegetarian Diet?
A vegetarian diet has been claimed to be a healthy diet, and it can be, as long as you don’t overeat on unhealthy food free from meat. Many people are deciding to change their diet to a vegetarian diet for their health, and even more environmental reasons. But what kind of vegetarian do you want to be?
Many people who eat a vegetarian diet know that the word ‘vegetarian’ does not necessarily describe their diet. But for the sake of not having to explain themselves over and over again, they simply say that they eat a vegetarian diet.
Many meat eaters think of being a vegetarian as not eating meat. And while that may describe some people, it does not describe every vegetarian diet.
Different Vegetarian Diets
Following are a few different vegetarian diets. This will make it easier to explain what kind of vegetarian you are when someone asks and also to describe what kind of vegetarian you want to be.
Raw Foodist – A person who eats only raw food does not eat food cooked over a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. While it may seem like this is a limiting diet, it is actually very easy to replicate many different kinds of cuisine including Chinese and Mexican, and the desserts can be quite amazing. I’ve personally made a raw fudge cake that was delicious. There are three types of raw foodists:
1. Raw vegans – Those who avoid all animal and animal products.
2. Raw vegetarians – Those who include dairy and eggs but avoid all other animal products.
3. Raw animal foodists – These people include raw animal food in their diet like muscles, eggs, and fish.
Vegan – Vegans eat nothing that comes from an animal. This includes animal meat, skin, and fat. A vegan diet consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, oils, and grains. Many people not only view a vegan diet as healthier, but also as kinder to the animals and the world.
Fruitarian – This type of vegetarian eats fruit, fresh or dried, and nuts. I have heard of some fruitarians including honey and oil in their diets. Although, even a vegan will not eat honey because it comes from an animal source, so I’m not sure if they should be called something different as a fruitarian, to me, would only eat fruit.
Lacto Vegetarian – Lacto means milk. A lactovegetarian eats milk and milk products, like cheese and yogurt, but avoids eating animal and all other animal products in the diet.
Ovo Vegetarian – The vegetarian diet would consist of eggs, but not include any other animal meat or animal products in their diet, including milk.
Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian – This type of vegetarian diet consists of eggs AND milk but avoids all animal meat or animal products in their diet.
Pescetarianism – This diet includes fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy while avoiding all other animal meat and animal products.
Pescovegetarians – This diet allows poultry but avoids all other animal meat and animal products.
Abstaining From Red Meat – This diet consists of abstaining from red meat but allows all other animal meat and animal products. Many meat eaters would consider this to be vegetarian.
So as you can see, there are many different types of vegetarian diets out there and calling yourself a vegetarian is easier than saying “I am an Ovo-Lacto vegetarian” when talking to someone casually.
Why a Vegetarian Diet Can Be Healthier Than a Meat Diet
There are many different people who will have many different arguments about what healthy eating is. But there are some things about a vegetarian diet that you can’t ignore.
1. Red meat is not good for you
Red meat can be high in saturated fat and increase cholesterol levels. Most people who are ordered to go on strict heart-healthy diets by their doctors are told to eliminate red meat.
2. Eating meat is bad for the environment
The United Nations has concluded that we all need to move towards a vegan diet if we are going to fix the effects of climate change. In fact, it has been said that changing to a vegan diet is more effective than changing your car to a hybrid car.
Animals that are meant for food consumption require a massive amount of resources. Land, food, and energy are all used on a massive scale to keep meat on people’s plates. The amount of fossil fuel to make one calorie for plant protein is 11 times less than the amount used to make on calorie from animal protein.
Eating a Vegetarian Diet Around Meat-Eaters
It can be hard to maintain a vegetarian diet when your friends, family, and everyone else tries to force you to eat meat at every meal. Even I, who has been a lacto vegetarian since the age of 15, still gets asked if I eat this food or that food by my friends.
Family members can offer tons of support if they understand your diet and make food that fits into it, but if they don’t then you are going to have to fend for yourself at some meals.
One thing every type of vegetarian has to be good at is checking labels. If you declare not to eat fish, but put Worcestershire sauce on your food, then you are probably eating anchovies, which means you are eating fish.
Checking labels is very important. There is a lot of food that contains ingredients that go against your diet, and checking become essential when you are not sure.
It can appear rude to check ingredients when you are at someone’s house for supper, but if you do not want to eat meat then you can explain that you just want to make sure you are not eating something you don’t want. Soon your friends and family will accept your eating habits.
For instance, the other day, my mother who is very good at making me vegetarian food, made jello squares for me, but because they contained gelatin (the collagen inside an animals bones and skin), I couldn’t eat them. But because I have been so straightforward with her since a young age, she was not disappointed. Maybe a little ticked off, but not disappointed.
So as you can see, while you may think that you want to switch to a vegetarian diet just for health benefits, there is a lot more that goes into the consideration of becoming a vegetarian. What kind of vegetarian you will be, how it will affect the environment, and how you friend and family will feel are all considerations that may help you move towards a more compassionate diet.