Vegetarianism involves a diet which excludes the eating of any animal flesh, including poultry, fish and shellfish. A vegetarian diet also excludes the eating of any animal by products. People choose to be vegetarian for many reasons; they may be ethical, cultural, environmental, economical, dietary or health related.
Fruitarians do not eat animal products nor any processed foods. Strict fruitarianism permits adherents to only include the ripe fruit from plants and trees in their diet, although some fruitarians eat a vegan diet but predominately ripe fruit.
Lacto-vegetarians may consume dairy products with the exception of eggs as part of their diet.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians consume dairy products including eggs as part of their diet.
Semi-vegetarians consume fish and/or chicken however they do not eat red meat. They are not technically considered to be vegetarians.
Maintaining a vegetarian diet is an incredibly healthy option as it is low in saturated fat, full of fibre, complex carbohydrates and of course, features a great deal of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Nonetheless, it is vital to remember that, as with any diet, it needs to be well balanced. Should you gorge on chips and sweets at each meal time, then of course being a vegetarian is not going to be the healthiest diet or lifestyle option for you.
Some vegetarians do not eat meat, eggs nor any products relating to these foods, nor products made from animal labour, like honey or dairy products. Veganism prohibits the consumption of animal products per se from the diet. Some vegans do not even wear animal products, like leather or suede shoes, or carry leather handbags. Some vegans also will not wear any woollen garments nor anything made from silk. Vegan diets can be less strict depending on the individual.
Thoroughly thought out vegetarian diets meet every nutritional need in each life stage. It has been demonstrated through large scale research that being vegetarian considerably reduces the risk of cancer, especially ischemic cancer (where the blood supply to blood vessels becomes restricted).
Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Vegetarianism versus Non-Vegetarianism
Staples of a Vegetarian Diet
A vegetarian diet that is balanced needs to include:
- Cereals and grains: preferably brown rice, wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta and muesli.
- Pulses (otherwise known as legumes), soya beans, split peas, kidney beans, lentils, cashew nuts and almonds.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are a must . Try as many different varieties as you can and vary them in your diet on a daily basis.
- Soya products and dairy products. Look out for the low fat varieties of milk, cheeses and yoghurts.
Vegetarian Meal Choices
There is no need to be vegetarian to make vegetarian meal choices. Restaurants, takeaways, fast food outlets and supermarkets have a greater selection of vegetarian choices.
So it’s possible to make vegetarian choices at times, even when you are not vegetarian. There are also many meat-free dietary choices which taste astonishingly like meat.