Types of Vegetarian Diets
Researchers have defined vegetarianism as the adoption of a plant-based diet, and the abstinence from the consumption of meat, and sometimes from animal by-products. The prevalent subsets of vegetarianism include:
- Pollo vegetarianism – the avoidance of all meats except chicken
- Pesco vegetarianism – the avoidance of all meats except fish and seafood
- Lacto vegetarianism – the avoidance of all meats, with the inclusion of milk, an animal by-product
- Ovo vegetarianism – the avoidance of all meats, with the inclusion of eggs, an animal by-product
- Veganism – the strict avoidance of all meats and animal by-products
- Raw veganism – the strict avoidance of all meats and animal by-products, with 75-100% of the diet constituting of uncooked foods
- Fruitarianism – the adoption of a diet that is fruit-based, with the avoidance of all meats, animal by-products and methods that harm the plant of origin
One of the key motivations of adopting vegetarianism bringing the sustainability of this indulgent diet to light. The amount of time and resources invested to rear animals for our consumption, especially beef, has debilitating consequences on our environment, such as the pollution of our waters, soil and air, depletion of our natural sources such as fuel to drive agricultural production, and the loss of our biodiversity when we eat species to its extinction. This was further emphasized that with the environmental consequences of the western diet, we would need the natural resources of 4.5 Earths to sustain the diet of an average American. Many chefs have made bold attempts at promoting and using less conventional ingredients such as innards, insects and less known species, but sadly singular effort is not enough. Such foods are too uncommon to be an acceptable norm to shift towards. To drive effort dry to its bone, the reality is, if we do not change our mentality on sustainability of foods, it is only eventual that those, too would run out.
From an ethical point of view, not only does eating meat harm the world we live in, but our little helpless friends as well. Poor animal rights and their living conditions being worse than the slummiest slum and being force-fed and fattened in the shortest time possible to drive greater production yield. When their time has come, they are forced into tiny alleys in the slaughter house awaiting their turn to be inhumanely butchered till their last edible portion has been barbarously sliced off their bone.
From a wellness point of view, vegetarians were found to have lower BMI than non-vegetarians, predisposing them to be at lower risk of metabolic diseases. Their high intakes of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and soy products were associated to improved lipid profile, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. High intakes of plant foods also reduces their risk of type 2 diabetes and higher intake of fibre obtained through fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes has cancer-preventing (particularly colorectal cancer) mechanisms.
Several religions, particularly those originating from India such as Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism, often adopt vegetarianism to lean towards non-violence, hence abstaining from harming animals for our personal pleasure to avoid karmic consequences.
Research has found that the recruitment of people into the vegetarian lifestyle begins from their social network. When friends begin advocating the benefits of vegetarianism, be it for its environmental, social or health benefits, it introduces the individuals to the lifestyle, and provides them with the moral support to begin. More importantly, the maintenance of such a lifestyle largely depends on this social network as well. They are reliant on the positive moral support of their vegetarian network which goes beyond having a common ideology, but extends to sharing tips on cooking, eating and making food choices that makes the behavior more sustainable.
Convinced to adopt a vegetarian diet? These are some tips:
- The concept of complementary proteins – For vegetarians, the importance of having complementary proteins becomes imperative, for example the combination of grains with legumes, or grains with dairy, dairy with nuts or dairy with legumes. This allows even a vegetarian to obtain all 9 essential amino acids from different food sources.
- Consume in variety – This would ensure that even a vegetarian can attain the nutrients they need from what different food sources have to offer.
- Know your nutrient sources – Some grains such as quinoa and millet are high in protein; dark, green leafy vegetables are high in iron; broccoli and kale are high in calcium; and nuts are high in essential fatty acids. You should also be aware of fortified food options, such as iron-fortified cereals, calcium-fortified soy products, and vitamin B12-fortified foods that you can opt for. Finding nutritional alternatives can be easy.
Here's a sneak peak of our vegetarian recipe!