Vegetarian Diet: The Way to Go?

vegetarian dietThe common misconception about a vegetarian diet is that there is only one kind of it—nothing but vegetables all day long, 24/7. But in reality, there is a lot more diversity to the lifestyle than we give it credit for. While yes, vegetables are a main component in this diet, it is more than that; roughage is not the end all and be all of this regimen.

A vegan is someone who cuts off food with all kinds of associations with meat. A vegan will only eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, as well as legumes. Some hardcore vegans may also restrict her/himself from drinking milk, eating cheese, wearing leather—basically boycott anything that has to do with killing animals.

A lactovegetarian, on the other hand, has no problem consuming dairy products with his daily vegetable servings. In my mind, this is a good thing as this affords you more dessert choices like ice cream and cheesecake. Of course, when you turn to a vegetarian diet, the principles come first before the dessert menu.

Ovo-lactovegetarians (or lacto-ovovegetarians) add eggs into the mix. And more than that, semi vegetarians eat poultry and fish, though in my opinion, the last one isn’t exactly vegetarian at all. To me, that just sounds like a person whose stomach doesn’t agree with red meat.

Anyway, people take on the vegetarian diet for different reasons. For example, in some religions, being a vegetarian is just a given—it coincides with their principles of respecting the life force of all living, breathing beings. In the same way, other people choose to follow a vegetarian diet in order to advocate animal rights.

It could be entirely possible though, that a person will go the vegetarian route simply because s/he feels that it is a healthier path. Obviously, employing a vegetarian diet implies some sort of healthier alternative. In some ways, a vegetarian diet is better in that studies have shown rare occurrences of heart attack, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

There are a few drawbacks to following this kind of lifestyle, though. For example, as one has a limited choice of ingredients, it is highly possible that some nutrients fall by the wayside. It is important that a meal still be well-balanced even at such a restrictive circumstance.

vegetarian dietPerhaps the most deficient of the necessary nutrients in the vegetarian diet is protein—after all, protein usually comes from meat or eggs. But that doesn’t mean vegetarians are doomed to be forever protein-deficient, without the capacity to build muscle. There are excellent sources of protein that are also vegetarian friendly; an example of this is tofu.

The trick is to keep the caloric level high (protein-wise) as the absence of meat will balance out the calories. The idea is to plan one’s meals well enough so that no essential nutrients are forgotten. Extensive research can help in this endeavour.

So if you find yourself drawn to a vegetarian diet for whatever reason, explore all of the possibilities in which you can create a menu that will fit your needs. Given today’s vegetarian options in terms of recipes and spices, there really aren’t many things that one will miss out on. It’s all a matter of committing to this particular lifestyle.