Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarianism is not just for weight control. But it does have some scrumptious food!

What is a Vegetarian?

A full answer is a bit more complicated than might seem. Two big branches are vegetarians and vegans.Vegans are vegetarians with further diet restrictions. Neither of them eat any red meat, fish or shellfish or crustaceans, poultry, game. Neither do they eat animal by-products, like milk, eggs and rennet.

Vegetarian paella looks delectable!

Vegetarian paella

Vegans do not eat any animal products at all, including dairy products, eggs or honey. Some vegans also avoid clothes that use animal products. They will not wear clothes that contain leather, wool, or silk. Also,  they do not use other products that may have been tested on animals.

Vegetarians are usually considered as including the following:

Lacto-ovo vegetarians, who account for a high percentage of all vegetarians,  do eat both dairy products and eggs.

Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products, but not eggs.

Ovo-vegetarians do eat eggs, but not dairy products.

Pescetarians do eat fish, eggs and dairy products.

Foods That Vegetarians and Vegans eat

Vegetarians eat a diet of grains, pulses and legumes, nuts, and fruit and vegetables. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, which are the most common type of vegetarian, also eat dairy products and eggs.

A vegan (total vegetarian) diet includes only foods from plants  –  pulses and legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, and fruit and vegetables.

Vegetarian pizza

Many people assume that vegetarian, specially vegan, diets must be boring, but that is not the case at all. It is true that a bit of thought is needed. It´s a question of ensuring getting the full range of nutrients needed by the human body. There are many recipe books, with a range of luscious dishes for vegetarians.

The pizza in the image looks delectable! It contains mushrooms, spinach, vegetarian sausage, mozzarella and pesto sauce. I want some for dinner tonight!


Can Vegetarianism Help in Losing Weight?

Yes  –  absolutely. Not only that, but once you´ve reached the weight you want to be, it can help to keep you there.

There have been numerous credible studies showing that vegetarianism, including veganism, is a good way of losing weight. It is also efficient for keeping the weight off after you´ve reached your target. Vegetarianism has done well in comparative studies against meat-eating diets. In the USA, over 65% of the adult population (over 19 years of age) are considered overweight or obese. Only 10% of vegetarians are. Statistics in most comparable countries, where they are available, show similar results.  There are plenty of vegetarians and vegans  now that these diets are becoming fashionable. It is hard to think of many overweight vegetarians.

Vegetarianism does not mean automatic weight loss

Vegetarian salad with a Coke canVegetarianism may be a healthy way to lose weight and stay there, but there is nothing automatic about it. There aren´t many obese vegetarians, but they do exist. A vegetarian can consume processed foods, fried potatoes, energy bars, sodas, and other fattening foods, while still remaining a “vegetarian”. Like the rest of the population, they have to fight against processed and junk foods.

Vegetarians do usually think about what they eat. They keep to a healthy weight by basing their diet on whole foods, like beans and legumes. Fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds are also part of a vegetarian diet. If they are lacto-ovo vegetarians, they will also consume eggs and milk, which provide protein and other good nutrients. They are usually thinner, on average, than meat-eaters. This is because the foods they eat often have fewer calories and tend to be more “filling”.

Are Vegetarians Healthier Than Meat Eaters?

Vegetarian prepared meals

More ready-made vegetarian foods in supermarkets

There is controversy as to whether vegetarians are really healthier than meat-eaters, when both are at a healthy weight. More factors have to be taken into account than just the obvious ones. There is an increasing number of prepared vegetarian foods on the market and they may have some of the drawbacks of non-veggie factory-made foods.

A British Nutrition Foundation report said that vegetarians tend to be younger, lighter and less likely to smoke than meat-eaters. They also have different nutritional intakes. (Apart from simply the exclusions that vegetarianism necessitates). The report also said that death rates for both groups are similar. So it is hard to say whether difference in nutrition and lifestyles make either group healthier. This is a disappointing conclusion, for vegetarians but there are other reports which are more positive on the benefits of vegetarianism. That is one of the difficulties with studying overweight and obesity.  There are so many conflicting reports and recommendations on how to cure the problem!


Images courtesy of:

Header – “Vegetarian”  –  Holly Williams                        Veggie paella”  –  eltpics                        

Veggie pizza”  –  Sarina                         “Great Veg Grub!”  (Tesco  meat-free Kievs)  –  John W. Schulze                         

All other images  –  Pixabay