There are various reasons why people choose to be vegetarian. Being vegetarian has become easy and more appealing due to the availability of fresh farm products throughout the year and more dining options. Scientific researchers have recognized plant-based eating as nutritionally adequate and vital in reducing the risk of illnesses. However, non-vegetarians believe that eating meat is humane and healthy (Wildman, 2021). This paper dives deeper into the types, pros, and cons of vegetarianism, giving personal opinions and advice to the reader.
Types of Vegetarianism
There was a time when being vegetarian meant that one did not consume meat; however, there arose several variations in vegetarian diets with time. The types of vegetarians vary in the severity of restrictions on animal products consumption (Shapses, 2020). Some restrict meat consumption only, allowing one to take eggs and dairy, while others have complete restrictions on any animal product. The main types of vegetarians include vegan, lacto vegan, ovo vegan, lacto-ovo vegan, pescataria, pollo vegetarian, and flexitarian.
Vegan is the strictest vegetarian diet as it excludes all products derived from animals, including all types of meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Further, vegans do not use honey or gelatin or any animal by-product, nor do they buy such products as cosmetics, clothes, or shoes that use animal-derived ingredients. Most people choose to be vegan for ethical considerations. An individual will only consume plant foods, such as fruits, seeds, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. Persons who avoid animal product intake may require dietary supplements to prevent such deficiencies as vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fats among others.
Lacto vegetarians do not consume any form of meat, such as beef, pork, chicken, fish, or eggs. They, however, consume many dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, ice cream, and yogurt. Therefore, a lactovegetarian diet is plant-based and incorporates dairy products. These vegetarians cite cultural and religious reasons for their choice of lifestyle. Hinduism and Buddhism are among the religions that embrace lacto vegetarianism.
Ovo vegetarians do not consume any meat, be it fish, fowl, chicken, beef, pork, or dairy products such as milk and cheese. However, ovo vegetarian diet does include eggs and any egg ingredient made of eggs. An ovo vegetarian would consume scrambled, boiled, fried eggs and omelets. Further, an ovo vegetarian diet includes products made using eggs such as bread, muffins, and cakes. An ovo vegetarian meal mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
Lacto-ovo vegetarianism is the most popular form of vegetarianism. Those who embrace it do not eat any form of meat but incorporate eggs and dairy products into their diet. The prefix “lacto” refers to dairy products, while “ovo” is derived from the Latin word ovum, egg. Religious reasons and, in addition, the basis of environmental and health factors may dictate a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.
Pescatarians prefer the intake of vegetables but their meat intake is restricted to fish and seafood only. Many pescatarians also consume dairy products and eggs—a pescatarian’s diet greatly benefits from omega-three fatty acids from fish and seafood. Seafood acts as their main source of protein for the body. The largely plant-based meal of vegetarians has numerous health benefits making it attract more people to adopt it.
Pollo vegetarian is a diet regarded as semi-vegetarian as it permits some animal meat. Pollo vegetarians incorporate such poultry as chicken, turkey, and duck in their plant diets and avoid other meat forms, such as red meat and pork. Including seafood, eggs, and dairy products in their diet is a personal choice. Besides white meat consumption, pollotarians also eat plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
A flexitarian is a plant-based diet with occasional meat items in it. A flexitarian is made to be more flexible as individuals who embrace it try as much as possible to have a plant-based diet. Flexitarians eat whole plant foods and get most protein from plants rather than animals and avoid added sugars and processed foods with the occasional inclusion of meat and animal products in their diets.
Advantages of Vegetarianism
A vegetarian lifestyle has excellent health benefits due to the low intake of saturated fats found in animal meat. Saturated fats result in higher cholesterol levels, unlike plant foods, most of which lack saturated fats. Following a vegetarian diet assures one to lower the risk of heart diseases, obesity, cancer, and hypertension (Bhatt, 2021). Additionally, to some people, it is selfish and unethical of humans to kill animals for food.
Disadvantages of Vegetarianism
Besides the advantages of vegetarianism, there are setbacks in the dietary nutrients needed by the body. Vegetarians may lack essential vitamins found in meat and animal products, such as vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc (Stanisic et al., 2018). Omega-3 fats commonly found in fish and seafood are easily absorbed in the body and reduce inflammation, unlike plant sources. The increased nutrients deficiency may require consuming supplements to replace the vitamins missing in plant-based diets.
To sum up, vegetarian benefits surpass the disadvantages of the lifestyle. Many lifestyle diseases, such as hypertension and cancer may be avoided by eating plant-based diets. Moreover, vegetarian diet aid in lowering blood pressure, thus lowering stroke risk. Finally, many people consider it to be cruel, unethical, and selfish to kill and consume animals when they have plenty of other options. Vegetarians can consume minerals and vitamins found in meat and animal products as supplements, hence living healthy lives without causing harm to animals.
Bhatt, S. R. (2021). Jainism for a new World Order. Springer.
Shapses, S. A. (2020). Do we need to be concerned about bone mineral density in vegetarians and vegans? The Journal of Nutrition, 150(5), 983-984. Web.
Stanisic, S., Markovic, V., Sarcevic, D., Baltik, M., Boskovic, M., Popovic, M., & Kilibarda, N. (2018). Being a vegetarian: Health benefits and hazards. Meat Technology, 59(1), 63-70. Web.
Wildman, J. (2021). The food matrix – 101 reasons to go vegan [Video]. YouTube. Web.