In developed countries, becoming a vegetarian has been growing in popularity over the past few decades.
- There is much more awareness now about cruelty to animals. Thus, it – vegetarianism – takes an ethical standpoint.
- There is much more awareness now about eating healthily.
- Many people would argue that it’s much easier to lose weight as a vegetarian. Well, that really depends. Chances are, you’re not going to lose much weight if you eat a lot of chocolate on a regular basis.
- And, there are much more foods available now that fit in with a vegetarian diet than at any time before – at least in the developed world, though not so in the developing world. Hence, it’s easier to be a vegetarian now. Further, again, in developed countries, it’s perfectly acceptable to be a vegetarian, whereas, 30 years or more ago, you were regarded as being strange or particularly religious if you were vegetarian.
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
Vegetarianism means that you don’t consume meat.
Do vegetarians eat fish?
That’s a commonplace question. There’s confusion about it.
Vegetarians do not eat fish, nor do they eat poultry.
If you do still eat fish but you do not eat any other types of meat, then you are referred to as “pescatarian” or ovo-lacto vegetarian who eats seafood.
There are other “types” of vegetarianism, too.
Other Types of Vegetarianism
Vegans are vegetarians that don’t consume any animal products or animal by-products.
That includes meat, poultry, fish. It includes milk and all milk products, eggs, honey, and more.
Further, vegans do not utilize any animal products – they don’t wear woolen goods, they don’t wear leather or use leather, not silk, nothing that has anything to do with animals.
Lacto-vegetarians don’t consume meat, nor poultry, nor fish, nor eggs.
Lacto-vegetarians do consume milk as well as milk products – cheese, and yoghurt included.
The ovo-vegetarian does not consume meat, nor poultry, not fish, nor dairy products. They do, though, consume eggs.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t consume meats, poultry, or fish. They do consume dairy products and eggs.
Let’s now consider some of the advantages of being vegetarian as well as some of the disadvantages of being vegetarian.
Advantages of Being Vegetarian
1 Risk of cancer is reduced
Those that maintain a vegetarian diet have as much as a 40 percent less chance of developing cancer in comparison to those that consume meat on a regular basis.
Really, if you don’t consume red meat, you reduce your risk of developing cancer. However, you can still consume poultry and fish and there’s a reduced risk of developing cancer.
2 Risk of developing heart disease is reduced
There is evidence to say that vegetarians suffer from less cardiac-related issues than non vegetarians. That includes heart attacks and death from cardiac-related causes.
There is one study in particular that involved over 76,000 participants. It was found in this study that vegetarians were 25 percent less likely to die from heart disease.
3 Reduces risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Various studies have been carried out involving Seventh-day Adventists.
What the studies found was that vegetarians were around 50 percent less at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Further, the Women’s Heath Study conducted by Harvard found similar results, though, they found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was very much reduced in those that did not eat red meat (particularly processed meats, inclusive of hot dogs and bacon).
4 Weight loss
Weight loss is not a given, even as a vegetarian.
Fact remains that weight loss is dependent on calories consumed and the amount of exercise you get.
As mentioned, if you are in the habit of eating a lot of chocolate, or you love to drink a lot of Coke, for example, and you don’t get much physical exercise, you’re likely going to struggle to lose weight as a vegetarian.
If You Are Concerned About Bone Health as a Vegetarian
Many people don’t become vegetarian because they are worried about the health of their bones.
The argument is that, as a vegetarian, you don’t consume enough calcium
This is unfounded.
Vegetarians do consume dairy products.
However, vegans (those that do not consume dairy products) do miss out on calcium – or “can” miss out on calcium.
Nevertheless, calcium can be found in some vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, bok choy and Chinese cabbage.
Disadvantages of Being Vegetarian
1 Poor nutrition
Vegetarians and vegans can miss out on nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
What’s more, vegans could miss out on protein unless meals are planned well.
2 Less choice
In the developed world, the choice of vegetarian foods these days is excellent, and far better than it was only a couple of decades ago.
In almost every restaurant, there’s at the very least one vegetarian option.
However, in Asia, for example, particularly when eating out, life as a vegetarian becomes a little more difficult.
In Asia, life as a vegan becomes not at all easy.