Information on Vegetarian Diet



Got questions? Here is information on vegetarian diet nutrition.

Q. Is a vegetarian diet healthy?

Yes, absolutely. However, you must follow the food guidelines to be sure you're getting all the nutrients your body requires.

Your vegetarian diet may be very unhealthy if you eat fast foods and trans-fat laden products such as some muffins, sweet rolls and donuts. Sodas, french fries, and potato chips aren't on the best for you list either.

Do try to keep processed foods to a minimum and focus on the more basic foods listed on the vegetarian pyramid.

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Q. Is a vegetarian diet safe?

Yes. It's important though to pay attention to what you're eating. For most of us the 80-20 rule applies, so do eat healthy 80% of the time. Then the times you indulge are guilt free and you can thoroughly enjoy your craving, or whatever.

Q. What are the different kinds of vegetarian?

The answer to types of vegetarian may have variations according to the understanding of who you're asking.

Here's the quick list.

Vegetarian - eats no animals meat, fowl, or fish. Everything else is ok - healthy or not. So once again, all veg diets aren't necessarily healthy.

Lacto vegetarian - eats no meat, fowl, or fish. Milk and milk products are ok. So cheeses, puddings, and ice cream cones, etc, are ok.

Ovo vegetarian - eats no meat, fowl, or fish. Eggs are included in the diet, but milk and milk products are not.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian - eats no meat, fowl, or fish. Milk, milk products and eggs are included in the diet.

Fruitarian - eats no meat, fowl, or fish. Eats fruits, some vegetables/fruits, nuts and seeds.

Macrobiotic and raw food diets are specialty meat-free diets explained more completely on this site on the types of vegetarian page.

Strict vegetarian and vegan - the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but the groups are really quite different.

The foods, no meat, no fish, no fowl, no milk, milk products or eggs are essentially the same.

The underlying philosophies and reasons for pursuing the more strict diet may be totally unrelated.

Health or illness, weight loss, animal rights, factory farms, and environmental issues are all possible focuses of attention.

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Q. Won't I miss eating meat?

I don't know. Some will and some won't. I can remember my mother's terrific cold meatloaf sandwiches, eating turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches, and Cornish pasties made with round steak. Those were my three favorites. It's been 30 years, I still remember enjoying them, but now I don't even for a second consider eating meat again.

Q. Can I still eat chicken and fish?

Of course, but then you would be a pollotarian or pescatarian and not a vegetarian. Another term also used to describe semi-, pseudo-, and almost vegetarian is flexitarian.

The meaning of flexitarian is someone who generally eats and enjoys a vegetarian diet, but occasionally eats meat, fish, or fowl.

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Q. How do I get enough protein?

A vegetarian diet provides adequate protein from plant foods. Less strict vegetarians get protein from milk, milk products and eggs, as well.

Q. Will I still get all the important nutrients to stay healthy?

If you pay attention and monitor what you eat. Studies show most Americans who eat the typical omnivorous Western diet don't eat adequate vegetables and fruits to satisfy the minimum daily requirement. Vegetarians can do the same.

Q. Will I need to take vitamins?

Possibly, and definitely if you're not conscientious about adequate nutrients.

Q. Can my children eat vegetarian?

Yes, there are many vegetarian children. Parents do need to be responsible for ensuring their children are receiving all the vitamins and minerals their bodies require. There are special guidelines for the age groups and many cook books have a kids section for youngsters' favorites.

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Q. What do I say if people tell me I'm crazy to stop eating meat?

Isn't that a hoot?! Like what you choose to put in your body is their business. But answer any way that's comfortable for you.

I'm not one who is easily offended so I generally reply in a way that I find out what's on their mind. That way we can build bridges toward understanding.

Q. Do vegetarians eat anything else besides vegetables?

Oh, yes. There are many recipes online you can look at. Or you can check out the cookbooks at your local library. There are foods for each ethnic group.

Q. Are there any good cookbooks?

Yes, again. There are very simple recipes and really advanced ones for the true gourmet. Research to find what you're looking for. Me, I like fast and easy. After all these years, I'm finally using more spices for interesting, delectable meals.

Q. What is the difference between a strict vegetarian and a vegan?

A strict vegetarian may have decided for health reasons or perhaps for love of animals or other reasons. They've made the decision about foods they will and will not eat.

Vegan is a life style based on the concept of doing no harm. The vegan philosophy is one of peaceful coexistence with other creatures. Animals are not used for food or clothing. Leather products aren't used or worn. Vegans are good stewards of the land and environment and don't pollute.

Some vegans are activists and protest factory farming and inhumane treatment of animals. They may also protest the pollution of air, land, and water by factory farms. There are videos and books that offer more information on inhumane conditions at the feedlots and abuse of animals prior to slaughter.



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