Vegetarianism and Veganism - Trend, Healthy Diet or Lifestyle?

Plant-based nutrition - A review of scientific literature suggests that this is not a passing trend, but rather a healthy pattern with benefits in disease prevention that is even recommended for the treatment of certain medical conditions.

What does it mean vegetarian or vegan diet? veganism is a diet based mainly on plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It is divided into groups according to the foods they avoid: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fish, dairy products and honey.

Vegetarianism and Veganism
Vegetarianism and Veganism

According to the American Academy of Nutrition, the division into groups is as follows:
  • Vegetarian diet - exclude eggs and dairy products.
  • Pescetarian diet - will include fish.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarian diet - will include eggs and dairy products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian diet - Include dairy products without eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarian diets - will include eggs and egg products, but not dairy products.
  • Vegan diets - Do not include eggs, dairy products, or even honey.
  • RAW Diets - based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and sprouted grains.
In addition, in recent years there has also been a pattern called "Flexitarian" when it comes to a person who is mostly vegetarian and occasionally includes meat or fish.

Reasons for vegetarianism and veganism.

There are diverse reasons that lead the public to choose a vegetarian-vegan diets, including the environment, animal rights and health benefits. 

It is important to note that health benefits have been found in most of the various versions of plant-based diets - vegetarianism, veganism and others.

Many studies and reviews have shown that plant-based diet patterns have an effect on lowering mortality from ischemic heart disease, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing risk factors for heart disease such as abdominal obesity, hypertension, lipid profile, and blood sugar. 

In addition, there is evidence to the efficacy of plant nutrition to maintain normal weight and weight loss, less risk of type 2 diabetes and more in achieving balance in patients, reducing the risk of cancer, especially gastrointestinal cancer, and reducing the need for drugs.

So what do we eat?

Despite the concern, the American Academy of Nutrition notes that a properly designed plant based diet is suitable for people at all stages of life, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy, childhood, maturity and athletes.

In order to obtain the health benefits of the vegan-vegetarian diet, make sure that the diet is properly complex and provides all the nutrients. For this purpose, it is advisable to consult a professional, in this case dietitian.

A sensible plant based diet will include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, leaves, spices and a some amount of nuts and seeds.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the American Oncologists Association and the American Cardiology Association, half of the plate should include fruits and vegetables because they are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and vitamin C.

It is recommended to combine half a cup to one and a half cups of legumes a day (lentils, dried beans, dry peas, chickpeas, fire, lobia, beans, lupine, and soybeans). 

Legumes are an excellent source of  the amino acid lysine, as well as dietary fiber, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. In addition, it is recommended to combine legumes with foods rich in vitamin C such as fresh tomatoes, peppers or citrus fruits that increase nutrient uptake and reduce absorption activity.
  • Nuts contain essential fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamin E. Studies also show that their consumption promotes cardiovascular health and protects against type 2 diabetes, obesity and gallstones.
  • Seeds, such as chia and flax, also contain fatty acids in addition to minerals and phytochemicals, recommendations are about 1-2 tablespoons per day.
  • Herbs contribute to the taste and make the food interesting. In addition, they also contain various phytochemicals.
  • It is also recommended to combine whole grains such as quinoa, whole rice which provides energy.

So how do you start?

A way to start is to gradually reduce the amount of meat and enrich the diet with vegetables and fruits.

Even if you do not want to become vegan or vegetarian, you can take part in the "Meatless Monday Vegetarian" initiative, which exists in various countries around the world. 

"Meatless Monday"  operates through information and education so that attractive, tasty and healthy vegetarian food will be available in the workplace, in restaurants and in the education system.

In conclusion, the scientific literature suggests that vegetarian diets are no longer a passing trend but. Those are diets with many health benefits.