When it comes to the type of food, it is always a personal choice. Food and preference are a function of geography, cultural roots, religious beliefs, lifecycle and, of course, the obvious, the taste and the palate. The diet has a significant influence on how you feel and how you look. 

There are various types of diets. Diets are no longer limited to nationalities and regions. With cross-cultural influences, it is pretty common to borrow inspiration from diverse eating patterns followed in another part of the world. 

There is no strict rule or no one right way of eating. All diets are equally important, and each has its benefits and causes. There are many options available when it comes to diets nowadays. For instance, there are many levels of vegetarianism. However, some people follow a strict vegan or plant-based diet. Moreover, as with any diet, there are also negatives to being a vegetarian. 

Types of Vegetarian Diets and Their Benefits

A vegetarian diet excludes all types of meat. It only focuses on plant-based products like fruits, vegetables, and nuts for food. A plant is the first organism in the food chain, making it the easiest to break down. People following a vegetarian diet can get all the required nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin, iron, and zinc. 

Everything you eat, after digestion, is broken down. The breakdown of the food components is to produce glucose and sucrose. This glucose is spread all over the body and brings energy. It is one of the potential perks of being a vegetarian. Whereas meat is next on the food chain, making it more complex. Hence digestion takes more time and energy. 

Vegan Diet

The vegan diet is a complete vegetarian approach. In a vegan diet, there is no meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals. A vegan diet has many health benefits but is not the same for all. There are a few challenges to this diet. Also, just because a product is vegan does not make it healthy. There should be proper information as to what can be considered healthy.

Lacto Vegetarian Diet

In this diet, there is no consumption of meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. But you can consume dairy products. If you dislike the concept of consuming meat but also want to maintain the consumption of dairy products, this would be the perfect diet for you. People who are not lactose intolerant can go for this diet.

Lacto-vegetarian is a diet which is dairy plus vegan. The inclusion of dairy gives the lacto-diet menu flexibility. People follow a Lacto-vegetarian diet for health, ethical, or religious reasons.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet

It is a vegetarian diet where you cannot eat meat, poultry, or fish. But you can eat eggs and dairy products. It is not a completely vegetarian diet, as you consume eggs and dairy products.

People who are culturally opposed to eating meat or are allergic to meat follow this diet. In this diet, one can quickly get all the protein through eggs. Other vital nutrients like minerals and calcium come from dairy products. Dairy products are very beneficial for health and support proper growth in the human body. Children should take dairy products and eggs for their overall development.

Suppose you are not lactose intolerant and are not very strict about consuming animal products. In that case, you can quickly go on this diet. Also, if you like eggs, you can continue having them in this diet. It helps you keep your distance from the fat that meat contains and helps you benefit from dairy products.

Ovo Vegetarian Diet

The ovo vegetarian diet does not include meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products. But you can eat eggs.

Suppose you like eating eggs and don’t want to quit. Don’t worry; you don’t have to. Eggs give you the perfect amount of protein required for your body. You can follow this diet even if you are lactose intolerant. Eggs do not contain lactose, hence are completely safe for you.

Eggs are rich in nutrients. Apart from protein, there are a lot of other benefits to eating eggs. Eggs have a high amount of vitamin B and vitamin D. They improve the level of good cholesterol in the body. Eggs can also help in weight management. As it contains no trans fat, it will be a perfect addition to your diet in the weight loss journey. After eating eggs, you feel full, avoiding snacking after a meal. Also, eggs are perfect for digestion and improving the liver. The antioxidants in the eggs are very beneficial for good eye health.

The HealthifyMe Note

Traditional western or omnivore diets are meat-heavy, but more precisely, a mixture of meat and vegetables. A vegetarian diet aims to move towards a more plant-based diet and cut out the meat. People can choose the level of vegetarianism that suits their tastes, lifestyle, and health needs. 

Limitations of the Vegetarian diet

Knowing the benefits is essential, but more important is understanding the limitations. It is vital to go through the side effects a diet might have. 

Limited Source of Protein

Most plant-based products lack a sufficient amount of protein. There are options like nuts and beans to give adequate protein intake. But it would not be easy if you are looking for a high-protein diet. There are minimal vegetarian food options that provide protein.

Requirement for Supplements

Other nutrients like zinc, iron and other vitamins come from animal-based products. According to a study, vitamin B12 is mainly present in animal products like seafood or beef. To fulfil the need for vitamins and other nutrient components, you might have to take supplements if you are on a vegetarian diet.

It might Damage your Hair Health

Hair growth depends on nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B. All these components are highly present in animal products, while plant-based products have limited nutrients. Therefore, it might lead to hair loss or hair damage. In such situations, you must focus on your diet and eat more nutrient-rich food products.

It Might Lead to Eating More Junk Food

A vegan and vegetarian diet is excellent for health, provided one follows a proper plating method. However, if it is full of starch, fries and bread, you may end up consuming more junk food than your non-vegetarian counterpart. For example, a burger with a potato filling has empty calories. So the idea is to make a plate with some carbs, colourful veggies and vegetarian protein options. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Eating out as a vegetarian can be a real challenge since most restaurant menus offer limited vegetarian options. For a balanced vegetarian meal, ask for extras like avocados, eggs, rice, beans, and nuts. In addition, avoid eating cheese and carb dishes if you are a frequent restaurant-goer. 

Other Diets and Their Benefits

To be healthy and have a healthy lifestyle, it is not compulsory to be completely vegetarian. There is no best diet, which entirely depends on personal choice. 

Various other diets are not entirely vegetarian. In these diets, there is not necessarily consumption of meat. Instead, other components get included to make the diet more diverse and retain more nutrients.

Besides vegetarian diets, there are more flexible diets depending on your choice.

Partial Vegetarian Diet

As the name suggests, people who are not entirely vegetarians are considered partial vegetarians. In a partial vegetarian diet, the meat gets completely excluded, but it consists of fish or poultry. 

Fish has a large number of health benefits associated. Fish contains components like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2. In addition, it contains many nutrients like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. It makes it an essential component of the diet. If you like eating fish but are not a big fan of meat, you should follow this diet. The diet will completely nourish dairy products, eggs, and fish.

Flexitarian Diet

A Flexitarian diet is a flexible vegetarian diet, and it is a diet containing all plant-based products, dairy products, fish, and meat. The only difference is that the amount of meat consumption is limited to a negligible level. Therefore, it is the perfect diet for you if you are a non-vegetarian and are not willing to quit meat. 

Eat meat with some limitations as it contains a lot of fat and bad cholesterol. It would be the best diet to make you control your urge to eat meat all the time. Limit the meat to three or four times a week to give your body enough protein. 

Limitations of Other Diets

There are limitations to every diet. You must be careful about what you put in your body and what amount you eat. If you are careful about this, you might not face the drawbacks. The limitations of other diets are as follows:

Increased Cholesterol 

Animal products contain a large amount of fat, to be more precise, animal fat. Consuming within a limit can be very helpful to the body. But if you cross the line of moderation, it would lead to excess fat in the body, which might, in turn, increase the bad blood cholesterol. The case can worsen if not taken care of at an early stage.

Indigestion

The digestive system needs a good amount of fibre to digest the food properly, and lack of fibre leads to indigestion. Since animal meat does not provide fibre, it might pose an issue. Although, to take care of that, make sure you are not only relying on animal products for your meal. Try to incorporate fibre-rich plant-based products and have a healthy lifestyle.

Increased Risk of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the consequence of high cholesterol in the body. When the bad Cholesterol level increases, it makes the blood denser and creates a fat layer in the blood vessels. It raises the blood pressure in the veins. Also, if you already have high blood pressure, it is recommended that you eliminate meat consumption.

Conclusion

A vegetarian diet is a diet comprising only plant-based products. Apart from strict vegetarian diets, there are other diets in which you can consume fish or meat in limited quantities. The choice of diet to be followed is yours. There is no best or worst diet; it is simply a matter of choice and personal preference. Also, the type of diet cannot be generalised to all. It also depends on the body type and the components you are looking for in your diet. However, before making any changes in your diet, it is vital to consult a dietician for proper guidance. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Do doctors recommend vegetarian diets?

A. Many doctors do suggest following a vegetarian diet. But it cannot be generalised to all patients. A vegetarian diet is recommended for people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or obesity. Although, it is to reduce the fat intake.

When you eat meat or its products, there is invariably a considerable fat consumption. Therefore, for individuals who suffer from conditions related to excess body fat, in such cases, predominantly a vegetarian diet is prescribed.

Q. Why do people quit being vegetarian?

A. The type of diet is more dependent on a personal choice. People can choose what diet they want to follow until they are not medically bound to a particular diet. 

The most common reason why people become vegetarian in the first place is because of the treatment done to animals. But unfortunately, only a few people dislike the taste of meat or other animal products. And because humans generally eat meat-inclusive diets, it becomes difficult for people to change to vegetarianism.

Q. What are the negatives of a plant-based diet?

A. There are certain challenges in a plant-based diet. It becomes increasingly difficult for people to include all kinds of nutrients. Nutrients like protein, minerals, and vitamins are essential. These cannot always be found or are not available in their high biological form, thus leading to a nutrient-deficit diet.

Also, if you are following a plant-based diet, you need to be sure to buy only as much as you can consume. It is because plants tend to go bad very quickly, and the storage is not very efficient.

Q. Do vegetarians have more health problems?

A. Certain health problems occur more in vegetarians compared to meat-eaters. Some health issues include stroke, harm to brain health, hair loss, and depression. While other health risks like high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes are more likely to occur in people who are not on a vegetarian diet.

According to a study by The Harvard Medical School, you can note that the risk of heart disease is 22% lower among vegetarians. 

Q. Why are vegetarians better than meat-eaters?

A. As vegetarians avoid the consumption of meat, it keeps them away from consuming high fat and high cholesterol products. That is why generally, vegetarians are more health-conscious than meat-eaters. 

Also, vegetarians consume more vitamins C and E, fibre content (which eases the digestion process), potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Fibre content is low in meat and very high in plant products. It is another reason why most digestive problems occur among meat-eaters. Also, since meat takes more time to digest, it takes more energy to break down the food. Therefore, it causes the consumption of more energy in meat-eaters.

Q. Can changing to a vegetarian diet have side effects?

A. There are no side effects in a vegetarian diet. But changing the diet to vegetarian might lead to a few challenges. Since there is a change in diet, it will affect the body in the starting period. 

When we eat meat, it takes more time to digest. A plant product gets digested quickly, which might make you feel hungry quicker. It is crucial to advise you to plan your meals accordingly. Do not overeat at once, and for an initial time, you can increase the frequency of meals. Once your body gets used to it, it will become easy for you.

Q. Is a vegetarian diet healthier?

A. Yes, a vegetarian diet is comparatively healthier. Also, vegetarian products contain more vitamins C and E and have more potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals). In addition, fibre content is low in meat-based diets and very high in vegetarian diets. Also, people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or obesity should eat a vegetarian diet.

Q. How many vegetarians go back to meat?

A. It is well-known that 84% of vegetarians return to meat. It has less to do with a health issue and more with habits and choices. Because shifting from a non-vegetarian to a vegetarian diet is challenging, most people return to eating meat.

Q. Why do most vegetarians go back to eating meat?

A. The most common reason people become vegetarian in the first place is because of the treatment done to animals. This emotion makes them quit meat and go for a vegetarian lifestyle. However, few people dislike the taste of meat or other animal products. And because humans generally eat meat-inclusive diets, it becomes difficult for people to change to vegetarianism.

Q. How many people go back to eating meat?

A. According to the current status, vegans are less likely to return to the meat-inclusive diet than vegetarians. For example, 86% of vegetarians returned to eating meat; however, only 70% of vegans turned back to consuming meat.

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