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Nutrition » Diets » Vegetarian » The Basics of a Vegetarian Diet: How Safe Is It?

The Basics of a Vegetarian Diet: How Safe Is It?

The Basics of a Vegetarian Diet

These days more and more people are making a gradual transition into vegetarianism. If you’re ready to overhaul your diet and dive into the meat-free lifestyle, you should learn all the facts necessary for making an educated decision. We’ve laid out all the facts about the vegetarian diet in this article.

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What can you eat on a vegetarian diet?

There are several options to choose from that are about avoiding some or all animal products, and giving preference to fruit, vegetables and legumes instead. Vegetarian diets fall into certain types (4):

  • Flexitarian: plant-based, but with occasional meat, fish or poultry.
  • Pescetarian: allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: no animal products except for dairy and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarian: dairy is allowed.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: eggs are allowed.
  • Vegan: avoids all animal-derived products, including honey.

Benefits and downsides of the vegetarian diet

Benefits

  • Embarking on a vegetarian diet will have your fat-burning system working in full swing. Firstly, the diet consist of fewer calories. At least in the beginning, you’ll start shedding pounds because of that. Additionally, its followers naturally gravitate to healthier meal options (6).
  • Your heart will be in tip top shape. It’s so because you’ll start consuming less saturated fats and cholesterol. A study, published by the American Dietetic Association, suggests that a vegetarian diet promotes a lower risk of death due to heart disease (3).
  • Adopting a plant-based diet may increase longevity.
  • Loading up on fiber-rich foods can improve blood sugar control and insulin response.
  • Vegetarian foods are usually full with water, so you’ll always stay hydrated. Consequently, it will have a pleasant impact on your skin as a bonus.
  • Besides, research says that vegetarians have lower scores on depression tests and mood profiles in comparison to meat or fish-eaters.

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What can you eat on a vegetarian diet?

Downsides

  • Cutting out entire food groups may result in nutrient deficiency. So, make sure you’re not skimping on vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, or protein.
  • To be on the safe side, the vegetarian diet may require supplementation.
  • Changing habits is difficult. You could find yourself consuming vegetarian friendly but highly processed food that lacks nutrients.How to start?

How to start a vegetarian diet?

The easiest way to make the transition smooth is to avoid rapid changes. Therefore, start small and then ramp up. Try several vegetarian-friendly recipes per week and search for plant-based alternatives of your favorite dishes.

The vegetarian diet pyramid, for example, is a helpful tool to remember what products to consume and how often. A healthy vegetarian diet provides adequate non meat protein. So, if you choose not to eat dairy and eggs, you can get protein from other sources. For instance, spirulina, soya and tofu. Beans, nuts and seeds are full of protein and healthy fats that are necessary. You can also include nutritional yeast for protein and B vitamins that you may be missing out on.

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Summary

To sum up, for those who decide to stick to a vegetarian lifestyle, there are options to choose from: you can eliminate meat or avoid all types of animal products. Above all, vegetarians are able to keep their health in check and live a long fulfilling life supporting animal rights and environment.

Sticking to a healthy diet based on your health needs, allergies and preferences is a great idea, however when combined with a workout plan that meets your goals, it might bring you significant benefits. Better mood, stronger muscles and endurance are just some. Check out the 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home below.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Becoming a vegetarian  (2018, health.harvard.edu)
  2. Is It Better to Be a Vegetarian? (2018, webmd.com)
  3. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition (2019, mayoclinic.org)   
  5. Vegetarian diets: what are the advantages? (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies (2016, tandfonline.com)
  7. What to know about the vegetarian diet (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
Olivia Johnson

Olivia Johnson

Olivia is a passionate writer and a whip-smart proofreader who takes pride in her ability to turn hard-to-digest information into an enjoyable read. She is a book worm, a life of the party, a meditation and fitness enthusiast, and a champion for healthy living all in one. Dissecting dietary fads, debunking long-established weight loss myths and delivering science-backed quality content is her top priority. When working on a piece, Olivia tunes into her own experience of trial-and-error weight loss which helps her cut through the clutter when doing extensive research. Her unbridled enthusiasm spills over into her work and motivates readers to chase after their full potential.

Kristen Fleming

Kristen Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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