A vegetarian diet is essentially a diet plan that does not contain animal or meat products. For centuries, millions of people in the world have followed pure vegetarian diets due to religious reasons, health reasons, or other emotional considerations. Today, more and more health professionals are discouraging the consumption of animal products—especially animal fats and red meats, both of which can increase cholesterol and harm the human body.
People following vegetarian diets are shown to be less prone to obesity and developing cancers, heart diseases, and other disorders which are associated with high cholesterol values. A vegetarian diet plan can help improve the health of a person in many ways. Vegetarians believe in consuming plant foods exclusively and therefore abstain from consuming any form of animal foods. There are also several categories of vegetarians. While most vegetarians would abstain from consuming any kind of animal products, there are those who are lacto vegetarians and consume milk and dairy products. There is also another class of vegetarians called lacto-ovo vegetarians who consume dairy products, milk, and eggs as well.
A vegetarian not only excludes meat and animal products from the diet, but generally does not wear clothes manufactured from animal products, such as leathers and wool. There are also partial vegetarians who consume some meat products, but not all.
A vegetarian diet has many health benefits in terms of digestion. Since a vegetarian diet is usually low in fats and trans fats, it does not contribute to the increase in cholesterol. Therefore, it has been seen that those consuming vegetarian diets are less prone to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders.
For those who want to adopt vegetarianism, the process is not as simple as it appears. Diet is an important part of the lifestyle of a person and changing the diet means bringing in a change in one’s lifestyle as well. If you want to change your diet to a vegetarian one, it is important to make these changes slowly. If your current diet consists of plenty of meat products, it would be wise to slowly start reducing your intake of these foods and substituting them with healthy vegetarian foods instead. For example, you can substitute a meat-based dish with a fresh salad. This slow transition gives your body the time it requires to get used to new changes.
Being a vegetarian also requires you to increase your knowledge about the different vegetarian foods and the nutrition that these foods provide. When you look at history, vegetarianism has been prevalent in many parts of the world. Several religions, which are based on non violence and which consider all animal life sacred, have been excluding animal products from their diet for a long time. However, even though vegetarianism originated due to religious beliefs, over a period of time, the nutritional, economical, and health value of a vegetarian diet have been identified.
Many doctors and dieticians all over the world advise people to become completely vegetarian. Vegetarian foods offer a good metabolism diet, because vegetarian foods are more easily digested in the human body. By and large, a slimming diet which is vegan has shown better results than non vegetarian diets. Therefore, a vegetarian weight loss diet is usually recommended to those people who want quick and healthy weight loss. A vegetarian diet weight loss is not only healthy, but tends to prevent excessive gain in the long run. Combined with healthy methods of cooking like steaming, grilling and sautéing, a vegetarian diet for weight loss can be really beneficial for the digestive system as well.
There are many misconceptions regarding a vegetarian diet as well. For instance, many believe that vegetarian foods are devoid of protein and iron. This, however, is not true. Proteins are an intrinsic part of all human and plant matter and therefore, the consumption of plant matter also provides a great deal of protein. There are several methods through which the protein quality of plant matter can be improved. For instance, sprouting kidney beans or lentils can improve the protein content of the foods. Pulses, which are already rich in proteins, can be sprouted to improve the protein content in them. It is the same with iron. Though vegetarian foods are not the ideal sources of iron, they do contain iron in them. There is another argument that the bioavailability of iron in plant matter is low and therefore it is best to get iron either from animal matter or supplements. The truth is that there are many plants which are rich in iron. Green leafy vegetables, especially, are rich sources of many nutrients—including iron. It is true that the bioavailability of iron in plant materials is much less than that in the animal products, however it does not mean that iron from plant materials is not available to the human body at all, it just means that one would have to increase their serving size for these meals.
The protein received from plant sources provides essential and non essential amino acids which are considered to be very important for the human body. While in meat products, the protein sources are the same, vegetarians have access to a variety of protein sources, which makes their diet sufficient to meet all their energy and nutrition needs. Most of the plant materials contain all the essential and non essential amino acids as well. However, in a vegetarian diet, it is important to consciously combine foods to make sure that there is optimal utilization of the nutrients available to you.
Vegetarians are able to get all their nutritional requirements from plant matter and do not require additional supplementation for nutrients or micronutrients.