All about Vegetarian Diets
What exactly is a vegetarian diet? Most people are now following a certain diet for different reasons; it can be for health-related reasons or for weight loss-related reasons. Some of these people are into vegetarian diets. People became vegetarians because of various beliefs and reasons. Some of the common beliefs and reasons are; ecological and economical concerns, religious beliefs, dislike and side effects of eating meat, non-violence belief toward animals and animal compassion.
Vegetarian diet is fast becoming popular. However, there is not even one pattern for vegetarian eating. A total vegetarian or in other terms a “vegan” has a diet that includes vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts and legumes which are dried beans and peas; these are all foods coming only from plants. Meanwhile semi-vegetarians are also into plant food but also include fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products into their diet but strictly no red meat.
There are also two vegetarian-related diets which are called lactovegetarian and lacto-ovovegetarian/ovo-lactovegetarian. In lactovegetarian diet the plant foods includes cheese and certain dairy products. Lacto-ovovegetarian/ovo-lactovegetarian on the other hand includes plant foods with cheese, dairy products and eggs. These vegetarian diets are strictly under no-red-meat diet.
Without much protein in vegetarian diets which are minimal to absolutely no animal products, the healthiness of these diets is always in question.
Are vegetarian diets healthy enough? Yes, vegetarian diets are also considered healthy. Because of the eating pattern of vegetarian diets, the total fat, cholesterol and saturated fat intake is so much lower. A number of studies showed that with vegetarian diets the potential risks for diseases such as coronary heart disease which leads to heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers and obesity.
But these vegetarian diets can be more legitimately nutritional and healthfully sound if the diets include essential nutrients such as proteins and they also need to be carefully planned. A vegetarian diet can be unhealthy when the diet lacks important nutrients and contains too much fat and calories. This imbalance diet may lead to certain nutrient deficiency that may be dangerous to health.
It is very essential for vegetarian diets to consider including nutrients such as proteins, vitamin B12, Iron and Zinc. These nutrients are very important for growth, maintenance and reconstructions of tissues in our body. Proteins, Iron and Zinc comes naturally from animal sources, vitamin B12 in particular can only be derived from animal sources. But then you can get this particular nutrient from fortified products and not enriched, like fortified soy beverages and cereals. There are also supplements for vitamin B12. Be sure to check the labels first before buying these products. Vegetarians are very susceptible to have Iron deficiency compared to non-vegetarians. This is because egg yolk, liver and red meats are the greatest sources of iron which vegetarians lack in their diets.
However, Zinc and Calcium can be found in plant foods such as grains, legumes, nuts, kale, broccoli and spinach. Soy bean products are also great sources of protein which are equal to those you get from animals. Vegetarians can use soy protein for their sole protein source if they choose. Vitamin D is also very essential for vegetarian diets; they can get them in supplementary form if they don’t get enough of sunlight in their everyday life.