Today’s standard North American diet is wrought with disease inducing processed foods; with most people eating whatever is advertised, whatever tastes good or whatever is offered in fast food restaurants. And even worse is when people eat to fill an emotional gap, which, as most of us can confirm, never leads to healthy choices.
The Problem with the Status Quo
Eating the standard North American diet would be fine and dandy if the foods didn’t contain artificial ingredients, artificial flavorings, sweeteners and heavily processed oils and fats. When we consume foods which we haven’t prepared from scratch we leave our health and wellness in the hands of others. And the issue isn’t just weight gain, which is obviously a growing concern, but excessive consumption of the standard North American diet contributes to various degenerative diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
A switch from the status quo to a diet based on healthy eating can be beneficial to those who wish to maintain good health; but it becomes especially important for those who are suffering from degenerative disease. Although there are many diets that allow for people to lead a vitalized life, I’m going to focus on vegetarianism.
Go Vegan, Be Healthy
For years researchers have been examining the health of vegetarians, and have found that those who subscribe to a vegetarian diet have decreased incidences of obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. By nature the vegetarian diet is lower in calories, saturated fat and protein; and higher in complex carbohydrates, fiber and phytochemicals than a non vegetarian diet. Now, not all fats are bad, but animal fats have been implicated in the aforementioned diseases; and the great majority of vegetarians have lower measurable levels of cholesterol, normal blood pressure and less constipation and stomach ulcers.
Types of Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarianism is a blanket term, as there are several degrees of a vegetarian diet; and those who are new adopters tend to test out each type to find the one that best suits their lifestyle.
- Vegans rule out both animal meat and animal products (milk, eggs, honey); and they tend to refrain from wearing or using animal byproducts.
- Lacto-vegetarians combine a vegetarian diet with dairy products, but do not eat eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but pass on dairy products.
- Ovo-lacto vegetarians do not eat meat but will eat eggs and dairy products.
- Pesco-vegetarians eat dairy foods, eggs and fish but no other meat.
If You’re Going to Do It, Do It Right
A vegetarian diet is generally a cleansing one, which may explain why it helps prevent disease; however eliminating meat is no guarantee of health. As a vegetarian, if you do not eat healthy, you simply will not be healthy, even if you avoid meat products. It’s also worth mentioning for those who opt for lacto-ovo, ovo and pesco vegetarianism, to ensure the animal products they consume (fish, eggs, dairy) aren’t filled with hormones. To make sure you are getting a quality product opt for organic fish, eggs and dairy where you can.
While by no means is this a complete breakdown of a vegetarian diet, it briefly introduces you to this well-known way of life.
Author Bio: Bianca Osbourne is a professionally trained natural foods chef and aspiring nutritionist; through her website Vitality Guide for Women she creates recipes featuring natural energy boosting foods with a focus on nutrition for women.