With all the hype about eating a vegetarian diet, you might wonder if you should adhere to a vegetarian type of diet or even what the heck that means. Well, basically what a vegetarian diet consists of is choosing not to eat meat products. Sounds simple, but it isn’t really; there are wide variations, depending on the person.
What is a Vegetarian?
Believe it or not, a vegetarian is not just a vegetarian any more. There are different vegetarian types:
- A Lacto-Vegetarian is one who includes milk and milk products in their diet, but no eggs or egg products.
- An Ovo-Vegetarian is one who includes eggs and egg products in their diet, but no milk or milk products.
- A Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian is one who includes both milk and egg products in their diet.
- A Lacto-Ovo-Pesco-Vegetarian is one who includes milk, eggs, chicken, and fish in their diet, basically just omitting red meat products.
Then there is the most commonly known vegan. A vegan is someone who chooses a plant-based diet that very strictly does not include any meat or meat by-products, egg products, or dairy products.
Who Becomes a Vegetarian?
Just as there are vegetarian diet variations, there are vegetarian types themselves. There are many reasons people choose to become vegetarians. The most popular reasons recently, which have caused a lot of the hype, are the movements to stop cruelty to farm animals and to save the environment.
What does saving the environment have to do with being a vegetarian? Well, the fossil fuel and water use alone, when caring for a meat farm, are a heavy burden on the planet (that’s a whole other article).
The cruel treatment of farm animals is another ethical reason for the fresh look at vegetarianism currently. Many animals are ‘fattened’ up only to be slaughtered for human consumption. Many animals are also tightly caged their entire lives, only to be killed and utilized as food.
Other reasons people choose a vegetarian diet are religious, health, and economic based.
There truly are vegetarian health benefits to consider. Some of the benefits are:
- lower cholesterol levels from cutting the fat of meat products
- lower incidence of heart disease
- lower rate of high blood pressure and type 2 Diabetes
Of course, along with these benefits comes the lower rate of obesity. There has also been shown to be fewer cases of osteoporosis and kidney and gall stones.
Of course, all of these benefits will depend upon you still making healthy food choices. It is all the more important for vegetarians to incorporate protein into the diet via tofu, soy, etc. And choosing real vegetables and fruit to eat, rather than more processed or junk food, makes all the difference.