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.