Vegetarian Diet: The Beginner's Guide to Vegetarian
The vegetarian diet is trending, but what is it? And is it good for you? Learn all about the plant-based diet and see how to make it part of your life.
The vegetarian diet has been around for decades now, and it has more fans than ever. The question is, is the vegetarian diet still a good alternative? What’s the deal with the vegetarian diet, really?
Learn all there is about the vegetarian diet and discover if it’s a good fit for you. After all, every diet has its pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about the famous vegetarian diet.
What is Vegetarian?
Vegetarianism has been around for a long time. People already practiced a meat-free diet in the 7th-century BCE, and eating vegetarian is part of the ancient Buddhist way of life.
Vegetarianism became a thing in the western world around the mid-1800s, and today it has more followers worldwide than ever before. Here are the most popular types of vegetarianism.
Types of Vegetarians
- Ovo-lacto Vegetarians: These vegetarians don’t eat white or red meat. And they avoid fish and seafood as well. They eat eggs and dairy, though.
- Ovo Vegetarians: These vegetarians don’t eat meat or dairy, but they get their protein and iron from eggs.
- Lacto Vegetarians: These vegetarians eat dairy but stay clear from eggs and all types of meat.
- Pescatarians: These vegetarians don’t eat white or red meat and might or might not eat eggs and dairy. What they do eat is fish and a wide variety of seafood.
- Ethical Vegetarians: These vegetarians might eat meat, fish and chicken as long as it’s produced ethically. Food must be organic, and animals must grow in free-range and cage-free environments. Animal welfare is the priority here.
Is Vegetarian Healthy?
Being vegetarian can be a healthy alternative to a ‘regular’ diet, but there are a few things to consider. Not eating animal products means your body might not receive the necessary proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Vegetarians have a greater risk of dental erosion; they might experience depression or anxiety and are prone to eating disorders. On the other hand, a vegetarian diet might lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Vegetarianism can also prevent diabetes.
We must also mention that vegetarians might suffer nutrient deficiencies of vital compounds like proteins, iron, vitamin B12, fatty acids, calcium and vitamin D. They might need to eat fortified food and supplement their diet in some way.
So, is the vegetarian diet healthy? It is if you make sure you consume all the nutrients your body needs, which can be tricky. Of course, the hard work might be worth it — at least you’ll eat with peace of mind and a clean conscience. The vegetarian diet is healthy as long as you do your own research, do things right, and are in constant communication with your doctor.
What’s The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian?
As mentioned above, there are many types of vegetarians, but they all try to reduce the consumption of some or all animal products. The vegan diet, though, is taking vegetarianism to the extreme.
Vegans won’t buy clothes made with leather or silk or cosmetics tested on animals; they won’t use anything coming from animals, and that goes well beyond their diet.
Vegans won’t eat dairy, eggs or fish either, so they have to find alternative sources for proteins and fats. And although being vegetarian and vegan sounds hard, today you’ll find more alternatives to eat than ever before. Most restaurants have at least a few options!
So, what is better? Being vegan or vegetarian? It depends. Ask yourself, what are your goals? What do you believe in? There’s no right or wrong answer here. Health-wise, both the vegetarian and the vegan diets are better than a regular diet as long as you make sure you nurture your body with all it needs.
The best part? You don’t really have to go all-in. Many people have a Vegan Monday or a Vegetarian Friday, for example. Eating less meat and more plant-based alternatives is healthier already, even if it’s only a few times a week.
How To Become a Vegetarian?
If you want to become a vegetarian, the first thing you must do is do some research, which means reading reliable information sources. Stay clear of non-scientific information. You can also talk to your dietitian or doctor. Don’t just stop eating meat; that’s dangerous. Make sure you know how you’ll substitute proteins, fats, iron and calcium before you quit eating animal products.
Having said that, an excellent way to start a vegetarian diet is eating more legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Add a wide variety of veggies and fruits to your meals as well and eat olive oil and avocados. Keep your diet varied and take full body checkups and blood tests every few months.
And don’t forget to work out. Move around a little. Being in shape is critical when trying out a new diet. A healthy lifestyle is as important as a healthy diet. Becoming vegetarian is easier than ever, and there’s more information about the topic than ever before. If you want to go green, go for it! We’re sure you’ll be fine.
What Can/ Cannot You Eat on a Vegetarian Diet?
Here are the most common things you can and can’t eat on a typical vegetarian diet and how much of everything you should eat. Keep in mind we’re all different, so talk to a dietitian and get yourself a balanced meal plan.
You Can Eat:
- Vegetables 2 cups a day
- Fruit 2 cups a day
- Legumes 1 1/2 cups a week
- Grains 6 ounces a day
- Nuts and Seeds 8 ounces a week
- Alternative proteins daily (including seitan, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, lentils, beans and soybean meat substitutes.)
You Can’t Eat:
- Chicken/Beef Stock
- Coffee and Tea (They prevent your body from absorbing iron.)
Becoming a vegetarian might be challenging, but it’s also rewarding — you’ll find yourself feeling lighter and better than ever, so enjoy your healthier, greener lifestyle!
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