Very often, people find the two terms vegan and vegetarian very similar and are therefore not able to differentiate since they seem to carry the same meaning. However, with the diet regime and weight loss craze, three types of diets are mentioned, that is, raw, vegetarian and vegan diets. Vegetarianism by simple definition exclude meat in their diet; veganism excludes both meat and other animal products such as milk and eggs from the diet while raw excludes all cooked food and also comes with veganism.
It is a common misconception that the vegetarian diet is exclusively consumption of vegetables however this diet is derived from plants. According to VegetarianVegan, vegetarians can be classified in more than one type of food consumed namely; strict vegetarian, Lacto-vegetarians, Pesco-vegetarians or Pescetarians, and semi vegetarians. A strict vegetarians excludes from diet all foods from animals which includes, eggs, poultry, milk and other dairy products, meat and fish. Lacto-vegetarians exclude from diet all animal foods except dairy products while others may also include eggs in diet. Pesco-vegetarians include dairy products, eggs and fish in their diet together with plant foods and have been regarded as the healthiest vegetarian diet. Semi vegetarians include poultry in their diet alongside fish, eggs and dairy products.
The world could be safer and healthier without meat
The concept behind vegetarianism, veganism and raw diets is almost similar and because it’s mostly a lifestyle, one may ask why people choose either diet. First and foremost, most people have adopted these diets for ethical reasons and cite the cruel way that animals are treated when slaughtered, debeaked, forced to lay eggs using artificial means and feed, and put in crowded, dirty environments. One’s personal beliefs drive the extremes such as staunch and pseudo vegetarians, and as a result set the boundaries that seem morally acceptable to them. For example, staunch vegetarians regard uprooting carrots though a vegetable as killing and will therefore not eat them while for pseudo vegetarians; regular intake of fish and chicken is acceptable.
According to Diet-Blog, taking of meat is generally unhealthy, for this reason, eating of meat is unreasonable due to high cholesterol and saturated fat coupled with its taste and texture which they dislike. Another reason would be that meat is genetically modified with most chicken and animal feed being processed to alter production of eggs and meat quantities and as a result will require artificial preservation. Vegetarians also blame consumption of meat on global warming and environmental degradation since a lot of trees are cut to secure grazing land and pasture for animals. While vegans agree with vegetarians on these reasons, they also argue that more resources are required to keep animals in the farm than to grow plants.
While there are reasons against consumption of animal products, there are reasons why vegetarians recommend their type of diet. Most vegetarians argue that their plant exclusive diet has low or no cholesterol, and has less saturated fat that are easily digestible and eliminated from the body. The plant foods are richer in minerals, fiber, and vitamins compared to animal foods. Plant foods also are rich in Vitamin B and folic acid while vegetables and most fruits have nutritious chemical substances that help in better functioning of body organs. Vegetarians also claim that their diet lack calories due to low volumes of calories found in legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables compared to animal products hence are likely to live longer. They also believe that plant products are safer and less polluted since vegetables and fruits can be washed unlike animal illnesses which are not easily detected. They also believe that plants are good for a safer planet since they release lesser energy.
Whether or not vegetarian or veganism is the healthiest way to eat can be supported by nutritional beliefs but it is not the singular path to a healthy diet. A diet can be considered nutritious if it is well balanced therefore the vegetarian diet must follow the basic rules of nutrition to be considered healthy. To get the ultimate and intended benefits of a whole plant diet, one must have a totally healthy lifestyle from eating to exercising and avoiding toxic substances such as cigarettes and alcohol. According to AskDrSears, it is healthier to live on plants and fish in the long run than on the animal products. This is because there lesser incidences of common forms of cancers among plant eaters since fiber and phytonutrients are key nutrients that protect one from colon cancers. It also protects from stomach discomforts and diseases such as constipation. Plants are lower in cholesterol and hence are good for the heart which lowers cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks. Meat eating people have a higher risk of dying from these diseases besides other contributors in their lifestyles such as smoking and lack of exercise. Vegetarians are also at a lower risk of having diabetes than non-vegetarians and also tend to see better which is attributed to eating of carrots. For this reason, blindness and eye problems are less common among vegetarians. Vegetarians are also less likely to have weight problems and obesity due to the low fat in their diet.
Though most health and nutritional practitioners will not recommend an exclusive vegetarian diet, they recommend balanced portions of plant and animal products with more plant than animal products as the healthiest diet. Therefore a diet with a combination of meat and plant product is healthy only when served in the right portions and with the choice of more than one form of vegetarian diet, the Pesco-vegetarian diet would be my most preferred. Why the vegan diet is my less preferred is because an exclusive diet with no meat or animal products would be an unbalanced diet since nutritional substances such as calcium that are mostly in animal products would be lacking in the body.
In conclusion, it is good to unravel the myth that you have to be a Buddhist or a Seventh Day Adventist to be a vegetarian. This is not true because people who desire a lifestyle change bring their health first irrespective of their spiritual beliefs hence any one can be a vegetarian or vegan.
Sumitted by: Callie Mabella