To explore this we must first ask ourselves what exactly is the definition of a vegetarian.
Vegetarian diets are gaining in popularity — even among regular meat-eaters. As more and more individuals reduce their meat intake, one essential question remains: Are vegetarian and vegan diets healthy? The answer is yes. If appropriately planned, vegetarian diets can be healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
There are a bunch of reasons why someone might be a vegetarian. Some of the reasons being –
Vegetarian from birth: Many people remain vegetarians because they have been brought up that way.
Religious reasons: This sect of people follows vegetarianism because the religion they may be following dictates them to do so,
Animal cruelty: Many people turn vegetarians after getting deeper insights into where their meat actually comes from and the process behind that.
People following a vegetarian diet do not eat meat or fish but may continue to eat eggs and dairy products.
A meat free diet can actually be beneficial to you even if you don’t fall under one of the above reasons for being a vegetarian.
A person does not have to eat meat to get all the nutrients they need for good health. A meat-free diet can lead to better health for several reasons.
One reason is that many people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume a high proportion of fresh, healthful, plant-based foods, which provide antioxidants and fiber. When a person decides to follow a meat-free diet, they often become more active in making overall healthy choices.
Many studies agree that a vegetarian diet can offer a range of health benefits.
To explore this we must first ask ourselves what exactly is the definition of a vegetarian. There are a bunch of definitions which come under the umbrella term vegetarian:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians avoid both meat and fish but consume dairy and eggs.
- Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but no eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy.
Some people who do not eat meat will eat fish. This is a pescatarian diet, rather than a vegetarian diet.
A vegan diet excludes all animal-based foods.
People following a vegetarian diet must make careful choices about what they eat to ensure that they meet their nutritional requirements. Some people may need supplements.
To understand this better we need to demisty some of the myths that follow being a vegetarian –
Vegetarians don’t get enough protein :
Meat has become synonymous with protein, many people struggle to find non-meat sources of protein. But adequate protein is easily are attained from a well-planned diet. And plant-based protein typically contains more fiber and less saturated fat, factors that are essential of a healthy diet. There are many plant-based sources of protein that fit into a healthy protein rich diet: legumes (beans, lentils, peas and peanuts), soy products, whole grains, nuts, seeds and (for lacto-ovo vegetarians) low-fat or fat-free dairy and eggs.
Vegans must consume more protein than meat- and dairy-eating people . That’s because protein from whole grains and legumes has lower digestibility than animal protein. Protein from plant foods is encased in plant cell walls, which are hard to digest.
Dairy/Milk is required to build stronger bones:
Dairy is only one source of calcium that is claimed to improve bone strength. A number of nutrients are needed for bone health, including calcium, vitamin D and protein. Each of these can be found in plant foods like kale, broccoli, bok choy, calcium-set tofu and soymilk. Some vegetables such as spinach and rhubarb are good sources of calcium, but they also are high in oxalates, which reduces calcium absorption, so include a wide variety of other leafy green vegetables more often.
If you are against dairy, please ensure that you get enough of calcium by increasing your green vegetable intake throughout the day and choosing calcium-fortified foods such as non-dairy milk, grain cereals, orange juice and tofu. In addition to following a calcium rich diet, weight-bearing exercise such as yoga, running, brisk walking and strength training is an essential component for increasing bone strength.
Just Because Something Is Vegetarian Doesn’t Make It Is Healthy:
Many people make the mistake of over indulging in vegetarian food because they think it wont harm them. This is one of the biggest mistakes vegetarians make. It is a fact that for a vegetarian to stay healthy one must consume a variety of vegetables, pulses and grains. Greens are a must. The most important thing for a healthy vegetarian diet is to cut down on processed foods.
“You are what you eat.” So please give enough importance to what goes in.