Few people are aware of the fact that there are several varieties of vegetarian diets that differ significantly. Nevertheless, as we all know, the vegetarian diet consists mainly of eliminating meat dishes from our daily menu. What types of vegetarian diets can we distinguish? For what reasons do people decide on this type of diet? And what is the standard vegetarian diet pyramid?
What is vegetarianism?
It is most commonly accepted that a vegetarian diet is a meatless way of eating. The word vegetarianism comes from two Latin words: vegetables – vegetables and vegetable – grow, mature, bloom. Unfortunately, the mere exclusion of meat products does not guarantee an ideal way of feeding, because it is necessary to reach for products containing meat and microelements close to the meat.
Vegetarian pyramid of proper nutrition
To facilitate the use of a vegetarian diet, vegetarian nutrition pyramids were developed. They pay attention to adequate hydration, consumption of vegetables, fruits, cereals and products rich in protein, such as legumes, as well as oils, nuts, seeds, and for some types of vegetarianism dairy products and eggs. However, there is not one universal pyramid. It is worth remembering that the demand for nutrients and their recommended amounts in the diet depends on the anthropometric parameters, gender and physical activity of a given person.
Types of vegetarian diets
Vegetarianism is a specific way of eating, in which the main principle is not eating meat, both meat of slaughter animals, poultry, venison, and fish. A very big mistake is treating vegetarianism as one type of diet. There are several varieties of vegetarian diets, which are more or less different from each other, here are some of them
– veganism – excludes not only the consumption of meat but also products derived from animals, such as milk, cheese or eggs. In extreme cases, drugs based on animal tissues and honey are also eliminated from the diet because it is a product of bees,
– raw food – allows eating only fruits and vegetables in raw form. This is a very restrictive variety of vegetarian diet, which very often leads to numerous nutritional deficiencies,
– fruitarianism – only fruit is allowed, even vegetables are excluded from the diet. The use of this variety of vegetarianism is almost impossible in our climate zone, mainly because the period of flowering and ripening of fruits is very short,
– Ovo vegetarianism – this is a variation of vegetarianism involving the inclusion of eggs and other vegetables and fruits on the menu. In this variety of vegetarianism, the consumption of eggs is much higher compared to the others. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no positive correlation between the consumption of eggs and the increase in the level of cholesterol in the blood,
– lactovegetarianism – allows eating vegetables, fruit and dairy products, but eliminates eggs, meat, fish and honey,
– Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism – is a variation of vegetarianism based on the consumption of eggs and dairy products. It is believed that the use of this variety of vegetarianism has the potential to provide the body with all the necessary nutrients,
– semi-vegetarianism – considered the mildest variety of vegetarianism. It allows periodic consumption of poultry meat, as well as fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, and fruits. This variation of vegetarianism due to the possibility of consuming all groups of food products is characterized by a minimal risk of nutritional deficiencies,
– enumeration – the diet includes mainly plant products, but from time to time you can eat fish. Due to a large amount of fish consumed, the diet of people on a vegetarian diet is characterized by a very high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
Reasons for going on a vegetarian diet
There are several main reasons why people choose to use a vegetarian diet, including
– ecology – it is believed that intensive farm animal production leads to significant consumption of energy, water, land, and other resources,
– economics – such people believe that if they would use all plant production for human nutritional purposes, it would not be necessary to eat meat,
– humanitarianism – showing compassion and mercy to animals,
– morality – such people put animals on an equal footing with a human being, giving them the same right to life as people,
– health – there are studies that people who are on a vegetarian diet are less likely to suffer from ailments of civilization.
The most important information
The most difficult in a properly balanced vegetarian diet is to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Vegetarians should strictly follow the rules of proper nutrition.
A lot of attention should be paid to the protein consumed. It is necessary to properly combine vegetable protein and supplement the deficiencies of essential exogenous amino acids to obtain their maximum biological value. If it is not possible to cover the demand for the most important vitamins and minerals, it is recommended to enrich the diet with vitamin D supplements, B vitamins (mainly B12) and in some cases with calcium and iron.
The supply of iron in a given diet is usually large, but it is a poorly absorbed non-heme iron. It is, therefore, worth combining iron products with products containing vitamin C, because it increases its absorption. In people who consume milk and milk products, the risk of calcium deficiency is low. In the case of a diet that excludes certain products, however, it is worth returning to eat larger quantities of green leafy vegetables and highly mineralized water rich in well-absorbed calcium.
Cereal products should be combined with milk, eggs and legume seeds, then the content of amino acids should be at a high level. While using all varieties of vegetarian diets, it is also recommended to eat as little processed foods, they should be freshly prepared, just before consumption. It is also worth paying attention to a variety of dishes, then the diet will be tastier and less monotonous.
Vegetarian diet and slimming
Both vegetarian and vegan diets mustn’t belong to slimming diets. This does not mean, however, that we will not be able to lose weight on such a diet. The main principle of a reduction vegetarian diet is to eliminate from the daily diet all highly processed products, which are a source of empty calories. You should also pay attention to adequate hydration of the body. If we are determined and follow the rules of a vegetarian food pyramid, we should not wait too long for satisfactory results.