Food and health experts say that more and more people are adopting some type of vegetarian diet, but what they choose to eat and not eat depends on what type of vegetarian they want to be.
Generally speaking, a vegetarian eats fruits and vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, nuts and seeds and avoids meat, fish, and fowl.
However, within the vegetarian category, there are a number of subgroups, including the following:
- Lacto-vegetarians who eat plant foods plus dairy products
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians who consume both dairy products and eggs
- Vegans who avoid all animal products — no dairy, no eggs,eat only vegetables, fruits and grains
A semi-vegetarian could be a person who usually eats vegetarian but occasionally eats meat, for instance, or it could be someone who doesn’t eat red meat but eats other meats.
Some people also enjoy a raw-food diet.Raw-food diets are those that emphasize eating uncooked stuff — truly raw products, uncooked, non-homogenized,etc.
There are health risks to consuming a raw-food diet. Eating uncooked foods, such as some fish or meat, can cause food poisoning.Many types of sprouts contain dangerous bacteria as well.
The least common type of vegetarian diet is called a fruitarian diet. As with semi-vegetarians and the raw-food dieters, there is no strict definition of what it means to be a fruitarian. Basically, though, fruitarians eat only the ripe fruit of plants and trees.
Why Do People Choose A Vegetarian Diet?
Many people decide to eat a vegetarian diet for health reasons. Research has shown that vegetarians have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower cholesterol and are less likely to die from heart disease.They may also be at lower risk for constipation,diverticulosis,gallstones, and appendicitis.
Others become vegetarians for religious beliefs, because of environmental or animal welfare concerns, for economic reasons, or because they just don’t like the taste or texture of meat.
Is A Vegetarian Diet Healthy?
People who commit themselves to a vegetarian diet may not be feeding their body important nutrients it needs to optimally function.
Of particular concern is vitamin B-12, which comes naturally only from animal sources, and protein, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc.So, if you are considering adopting a vegetarian diet, talk to a nutritionist to make sure you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
By taking certain vitamin supplements and by careful meal planning, being a vegetarian can be a healthy and rewarding way of life.