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,
– religion,
– ethics,
– 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,
– philosophy,
– 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.

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Vegetarian diet

Vegetarianism is a way of feeding, which in both India and the Middle East, where it originated, has been known for many years. Recently, it has become more and more popular all over the world. People interested in healthy eating often choose vegetarianism as a healthy lifestyle. Is it right? What exactly does vegetarianism consist of? What are its types? Is it safe? What should especially pay attention to people who are already on a vegetarian diet or wanting to start their adventure with this way of nutrition?

Vegetarian diet – characteristics and types
A vegetarian diet is an alternative way of eating, which excludes from the menu products of animal origin such as meat, fish or seafood, and in some of its types also dairy products, eggs, honey and any food products that may contain even traces of these ingredients.

There are many varieties of vegetarianism. There can be distinguished Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism, lactovegetarianism, Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism and strict vegetarianism, veganism. The group of vegetarian diets also includes the macrobiotic diet, raw vegetarianism, and fruitarianism, while they are much less frequently used and because of the huge restrictions that they have, it would be more appropriate to determine their dietary habits of vegans. Each of the above-mentioned diets has a different food scheme. The table below presents the table of products consumed and eliminated in particular types of vegetarian diets.

In this article, when talking about a vegetarian diet, I will refer to the lacto-vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian diet – what to eat?
A healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet should primarily be based on whole-grain cereal products such as bread, whole-grain pasta, wholegrain rice, thick cereal, quinoa, as well as all kinds of oatmeal, buckwheat, barley or millet. It is estimated that they should be consumed in the amount of 6-10 portions during the day.

The next extremely important food products in the vegetarian diet are, of course, vegetables and fruits. The vegetarian diet should include vegetables in the amount of 4-7 portions per day, with 2-3 portions should be green leafy vegetables. Fruit, however, as in the case of the classic model of nutrition, it is recommended to consume in slightly smaller quantities than vegetables.

Vegetarians should consume 1-2 portions of fresh fruit and 1-2 portions of dried fruit. In the diet of people excluding meat and fish, the basic source of protein is dairy products and legume seeds. This diet should include 3 portions of dairy products, which include, for example, milk, kefir, yogurts, cottage cheese, cheese or fortified vegetable milk and 2-3 servings of such products such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, broad beans, tofu, peanut butter or almond butter.

The last on the list of products necessary in the vegetarian diet are nuts, seeds, and fats. No vegetarian can forget to include 1-2 servings of nuts and seeds in a daily diet and 2-3 servings of fat, which may come, among others from olive oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil. For each vegetarian, supplementation is extremely important, but more precisely in the further part of the article.

Vegetarian diet – slimming
A vegetarian diet scheme is chosen for a variety of reasons. Some decide to use the diet for ideological reasons, while others decide on health, and still, others want to get rid of unnecessary kilograms. Exactly – is the vegetarian diet a good way to reduce body weight? Of course. Reports indicate that people using a vegetarian diet have a lower body mass index and are leaner.

Properly balanced vegetarian diet provides less cholesterol or saturated fatty acids. In addition, vegetarians consume more vegetables and fruits and are based on whole-grain cereal products, which provide much larger amounts of fiber than people using the classic model of nutrition. The fiber ensures a feeling of fullness for longer, full-grain helps to stabilize the blood sugar level, which in turn prevents the wolf hunger, and vegetables and fruit, as everyone knows, are characterized by low energy value, and also abound in precious vitamins and minerals, which is extremely desirable in weight reduction. However, it should be remembered that vegetarian dishes can also be very caloric. Falafels, fries, pizza or even cereal bars can also be vegetarian. Be careful of this type of trap and remember to balance the vegetarian menu correctly.

Vegetarian diet – safety
The only thing the vegetarians might be afraid of is shortages. Anyone who chose a vegetarian nutrition model should remember to supplement the B12 and D3 vitamins. Deficiencies are also often found in calcium, zinc, iron, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. However, in this case, one should not worry and it should be remembered that an insufficient supply of calcium and omega-3 acids concerns people who eat meat, and supplementation with vitamin D3 is recommended for the majority of society. In addition, the shortage problem disappears when the diet is repeatedly mentioned. The following statement confirms the safety of the vegetarian diet.

The American Dietetic Association states that properly planned vegetarian diets, including strictly vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy, meet dietary needs and can provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are suitable for people at all stages of life, including pregnancy and lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and athletes.