Thank you for being here. This is my first post for Veggit! I am so excited to share my nutrition knowledge and personal experiences with you. For those of you who are seasoned vegans, the following information may not be news. I would like to start from scratch for those who are curious about the vegan diet or those who already follow one and need some help.
*Disclaimer: I am not going to preach about why someone should adopt a vegan diet. I feel that each individual person has the liberty to choose what is good in their own hearts and the right to control their own actions. It is not my place to belittle someone for viewing the world differently. Also, intentions to change the behaviors of others with an offensive approach inevitably backfire. If you push, they will push back. You get what you give! By all means, speak up if you feel the need, but try to do so in a loving and patient way. I do not seek to argue about differences of opinion, I simply seek to nutritionally inform.
Now, let’s get down to business! Removing or decreasing any food from your diet requires an understanding of what key nutrients the food provides, if they are necessary, and if so you must find a suitable source of replacement. When you decide to either minimize or completely halt your intake of animals and their byproducts, it is important to be aware of different vegetarian diets and what major sources of nutrients are excluded so that you may select the one most suited to your needs/wants and properly supplement with alternatives if necessary. The following are examples of plant-based diets which are listed on the Mayo Clinic website:
“Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included” (1). This diet contains major sources of calcium possible vitamin D fortifications, protein and cholesterol**.
“Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs” (1). If your diet restricts grain or starchy vegetable consumption including legumes, and your conscience allows it, you might want to consider consuming local free-range or cage-free eggs as a quality protein source. This diet also contains cholesterol** if egg yolks are consumed (2).
“Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs” (1). This is a cholesterol**-containing diet which can be controlled by consuming low-fat or skim milk and rarely consuming egg yolks.
“Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish” (1). Fish meat provides major sources of omega-3 fatty acids, lean (low-fat) protein, vitamin D3, EPA, DHA, calcium, phosphorus and minerals (2).
“Pollotarian diets exclude meat, dairy and fish, but allow poultry” (1). Poultry meat provides a lean source of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium (2).
“Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products” (1). Many meat substitutes exist for this diet (read the label as some contain milk and eggs) as well as milk and cheese alternatives. These products are typically made with soy, other legumes, or nuts. Of course, ALL vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains, and nuts are allowed (unless you follow a Paleo Vegan diet). It is important to eat a variety of COLORS to ensure that you are receiving a wide range of vitamins and minerals!
“Some people follow a semivegetarian diet — also called a flexitarian diet — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities”(1).
**Cholesterol is a fat-substance made in the body that is used to synthesize hormones, vitamin D, and digestive enzymes (3). It is a GOOD thing that the body needs in moderation. Excessive dietary cholesterol, however, can raise LDL levels which contribute to high blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, blood clots, and other problems (3).
The vegetarian diet options above are by no means the only ones in existence. You can modify your diet according to your preferences. For the purpose of avoiding confusion and maintaining consistency throughout the Veggit blog, I will only refer to a vegan diet in which ALL animal products are excluded. In future posts, I will discuss micro and macro nutrients in detail, their functions, vegan sources, and various ways to include them in your diet. I hope that you, the readers, will contribute to this blog with your thoughts, experience, and research. Leave a comment and let me know what you thought about this post and what you would like to read about in the future! Thank you again for your time!
Love and Gratitude,
- Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446. Published on March 14, 2016. Accessed on October 21, 2016.
- Nutrients and health benefits. USDA ChooseMyplate.gov.https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods-nutrients-health. Last updated on January 21, 2016. Accessed on October 22, 2016.
- What is Cholesterol? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc. Published on November 12, 2013. Accessed on October 21, 2016.