People take interest in vegetarian diets for various reasons. Nowadays, there’s increased awareness on the detrimental effects of animal foods on health and the environment. Other people are drawn towards vegetarianism because of personal principles or religious beliefs that abhor the exploitation of animals.
Different Types of Diets
Despite the increased interest towards vegetarianism, many people don’t know much about it. There are several kinds of vegetarian diets, based on the types of food consumed. Strict vegetarians keep off all foods that originate from animals, including eggs and dairy products.
On the other hand, semi-vegetarians consume a little amount of these items. Lacto-vegetarians don’t shy away from dairy products, though they only include small amounts. Finally, there are pesco-vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products along besides plant foods. The common aspect found in all these diets is the high consumption of vegetables, nuts, legumes and fruit. They all cut down on cholesterol and saturated fats, instead shifting to higher intakes of dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates.
Why Switch to Vegetarianism?
These diets are generally healthier than conventional ones, especially when it comes to fighting heart disease and cancer. This is due to less consumption of cholesterol and animal fat, instead taking more of antioxidant rich items. Overweight people who take up low-fat vegetarian diets are also likely to succeed in shedding some pounds and maintaining the results.
Balanced vegetarian diets are also said to be vital in yielding more energy. With the lower fat consumption, arteries open up better which results in muscles getting sufficient oxygen. Additionally, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes contain higher complex carbohydrate amounts. This means more fuel for the muscles.
Animal products, especially meat, have a devastating effect on the environment. Waste from factory farms results in heavy pollution of rivers. Some people thus become vegetarians by seeking to do their part on environmental conservation.
Is Vegetarianism Really the Healthiest Way to Eat?
When one adheres to the general rules of nutritionally balancing their diet, a vegetarian diet could be excellent for their health. It’s however important to ensure that one still gets the nutrients normally found in animal products. Simply switching to these diets while still consuming junk food won’t help as far as health is concerned.
The various types of vegetarian diets can all be nutritionally balanced, but it takes planning to achieve this. It’s been proved that poor planning of meals is what leads to nutritional deficiencies, rather than the absence of animal products. Properly balanced meals could be appropriate for all life stages, including infants, the elderly, competing athletes and expectant women.
When planning, one first needs to decide whether or not they’re going to consume any animal foods. A registered dietician could help in creating a diet that fits particular lifestyles and food preferences. Starting out slowly by first consuming a few vegetarian meals each week would help when transitioning.