What are the different types of plant-based diets?
Many people think of vegetarians as one homogeneous group that just doesn’t eat meat. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are different categories of vegetarians as diverse as the reasons for going vegetarian in the first place.
People generally define a vegetarian as someone who doesn’t eat meat. But someone who is vegetarian could conceivably eat dairy products such as milk, eggs, and cheese. A lacto ovo vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but does consume eggs, milk or cheese. A lacto vegetarian consumes milk and cheese products but doesn’t consume eggs.
A vegan is someone who doesn’t consume any animal product or by-product, including dairy food. They eat only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and legumes. They also don’t use animal products, such as leather. Vegans also don’t use white sugar because it’s often processed with a substance derived from animal bones that whitens the sugar.
There are other categories within the vegetarian community. Fruitarians, for example, eat only fruit. The fruitarian rationale is that fruits, including fruits such as tomatoes, are self-perpetuating and don’t need to be planted to create the food source. They consider it a way of eating that’s most in balance and harmony with the earth, the most natural.
All of the above will eat cooked vegetables, fruits, and legumes. There is also a growing movement towards eating only raw or living foods. The assumption is that cooking food processes most of the nutrients out of it, and to get all the nutritional value, vitamins and amino acids from food, it’s best consumed raw or juiced. If cooked at all, it should only be cooked to slightly over 100 degrees, so the nutrients are still retained.
Get educated with your diet.
The more restrictive you become with your diet, however, the more educated you need to become to be sure you’re getting all the necessary proteins and vitamins that you need to maintain good health, especially muscle and heart health.
Flipping the Switch to Vegetarianism
If you’ve made the commitment to becoming vegetarian yet finding it difficult to make the transition in your diet and your lifestyle, here are some suggestions on how to make the switch a smoother ride.
Start out with committing to be a vegetarian for three days per week for the first couple of weeks. Start substituting ingredients in your favorite dishes to make them truly meatless. Throw mushrooms into that marinara sauce to take the place of meatballs, or try some textured vegetable protein (TVP) in that lasagna recipe. Making simple replacements in your tried and true recipes can inspire you to stay on the vegetarian track once you see how delicious they can be.
Next, commit to five days per week for the next two weeks. Study the natural foods aisle at your local grocer, or make it a point to introduce yourself to the local health foods store. Treat yourself to a few new vegetarian products and try them in your next meal. Veggie Groove is a great source of vegetarian recipes. And don’t limit yourself to being vegetarian only at home; many restaurants offer delicious vegetarian entrees, so be sure to try them. You may even find inspiration for your home cooking by doing so.
Now, all that’s left to do is add two more days and you’ll be a converted vegetarian all week long! After all, you’ve been doing it for a month now; you’ve become a seasoned rookie in the game. Take pride in your accomplishments, because not only have you made positive changes in your lifestyle and eating habits, but for the environment and animals as well. Remember it’s not about being perfect; every change you make it your diet has a great effect. By rewarding yourself for each vegetarian choice you make you’ll be motivated to continue in the right direction. Groove on!