As far as vegetarianism goes, you can’t lump it together. According to health and food experts, increasing number of people are adopting some kind of vegetarian diet. There is various type of vegetarian diet and depends on the type, what you choose to eat and not eat varies.
According to the American Dietetic Association, about 4.8 million of American adults (or 2.5 %) were consistently on a vegetarian diet in 2000, and 20 to 25 % had at least four meatless meals a week. Experts are convinced this number is increasing, as more and more vegetarian options are appearing on restaurant menus and in pre-packed foods at the stores.
What Does Vegetarian Mean?
In general, a vegetarian eats vegetables, fruits, dried peas and beans, seeds and nuts, grains and stays away from meat, fowl , and fish. Still, there are many subgroups within the so-called vegetarianism, such as:
Lacto-vegetarians who consume plant foods as well as dairy products
Lacto-Ovo vegetarians who eat plant foods as well as dairy products and eggs
Vegans who avoid all animal products including dairy products and eggs and eat plant foods only.
And there are so-called semi-vegetarians. Dr. Susan B. Roberts, professor in the nutrition and psychiatry departments at Tufts University in Boston and author of The Instinct Diet explains “Semi-vegetarian can’t be defined as standard one. People often use this word describing their own diet, which is not strictly vegetarian diet.”
A semi-vegetarian could be someone who normally consumes vegetarian food but sometimes eats non-vegetarian food such as meat, or it could be the person who eats white meat but not red meat.
Raw Food Diet
There are some people who are dedicated to raw-food diet. Roberts explains “Raw-food diets put emphasize on eating uncooked food, purely raw products, non-homogenized, uncooked and so on. There is no one clear definition here either. There are many aspects in it. For example, some of them would only eat 100 % raw food, and others who eat raw food 70% or more and describe themselves as raw food dieter. A raw-food diet might consists of vegetables only, or it could include meat, fish, and eggs as long as they are raw”.
However, some health risks are involved when you eat a raw-food diet. Roberts cautions “Some of the uncooked foods, such as some meat or fish, could cause food poisoning”. She points out that some kinds of sprouts also may contain harmful bacteria.
Fruitarian diet is one of the least common kinds of vegetarian diet. Just like raw-food dieters and semi-vegetarians, there is no clear definition of what actually fruitarian means. Generally, fruitarians consume only the ripe fruits.
Roberts is not enthusiastic about the fruitarian diet. She claims “This is just insane. Fortunately, it is not popular at all, since it is difficult and would make you feel wasted very soon. You just canít consume a balanced and nutritious diet when you follow their rules. You need to add substantial foods to maintain your health, for example, grains , nuts, milk, which makes it a vegetarian diet.”
Reason Why People Choose A Vegetarian Diet
The majority of people choose to eat a vegetarian diet for health related reasons. According to a research, vegetarians have lower cholesterol , lower body mass index and lower risk of dying from heart disease. They also tend to have fewer constipation problems, less chance of developing diverticulosis, appendicitis, and gallstones.
Some people adopt vegetarianism for religious beliefs, for animal welfare or environmental concerns, because of economic reasons, or simply as they don’t like the texture or taste of meat.
Is A Vegetarian Diet Healthy?
People who strictly stick to a vegetarian diet ,may not be consuming important nutrients their body to be optimally functioning. Especially, the concern is vitamin B-12. The animal is the only natural source of vitamin B-12. Other nutrients in concern are iron, protein, calcium, vitamin D, and zinc. Therefore if you are thinking of adopting vegetarianism, better to talk to a nutritionist first to make sure you consume enough nutrients you require to stay healthy.
If you take certain vitamin supplements to compensate deficient nutrients and organize your meal plan carefully, being a vegetarian can be a satisfying, healthy and peaceful way of life.