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Vegetarians: No Meat Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays …

By Brandi Goodman

Vegetarians: No Meat Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays

“Meatless Mondays” have become popular in recent years, with people opting to skip meat for a night and try a vegetable-centered meal instead. It’s done in an effort to reduce excessive meat consumption both for better health and the environment.

Vegetarians, who already follow a meatless diet, are ahead of the curve in this regard. Their “No Meat Mondays,” Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and so on, help to conserve environmental resources and protect the animals of the planet.

But what goes into being a vegetarian, and is it actually a healthy lifestyle change?

What Is a Vegetarian?

Simply put, a vegetarian is an individual who does not consume meat. However, the lifestyle means something different for everyone. While some feel as though fish, shellfish, poultry, pork, and game are the only foods that are off limits, others will not consume anything that comes from an animal at all. This means not eating eggs or drinking milk. Pescetarians are very similar to vegetarians, except they are fine with eating fish, but will not eat any other meat.

Sub-Groups

There are four main sub-groups within vegetarianism.

Lacto-Ovo vegetarians - One of the primary types of vegetarians are those who avoid eating any animal. Fish and meat are both off limits. However, they will still consume eggs and dairy products.

Lacto vegetarians - Lacto vegetarianism requires that participants not eat meat or eggs. They can consume dairy.

Ovo vegetarians - Ovo vegetarians do not consume meat or dairy products. They will still eat eggs. They follow the opposite plan as lacto vegetarians.

Vegans - This group avoids all animal-derived foods and products. They have the strictest rules of the four sub-groups of vegetarianism.

What Is the Difference Between a Vegetarian and a Vegan?

Within the sub-groups, the biggest difference lies between extreme vegan and vegetarian diets that are more lax. A vegan is the most extreme, eating absolutely no animals or animal by-products, nor using any ingredients derived from animals. They do not eat eggs, drink milk, or even use medicine, moisturizer, or makeup that contain any animal-related ingredients, including certain fats and oils. They carefully look over ingredient lists and only use products and eat foods that are labeled as vegan. Vegan diets even discourage the use of certain oils in cooking, such as coconut oil and almond oil, because they can lead to deforestation and encourage excessive water use. Canola oil is a safe option.

The Vegan Society offers a full tutorial on how to go vegan if that is something you wish to do.

What Should a Vegetarian Diet Include?

A vegetarian diet focuses heavily on fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and plant-based proteins. If you are following the primary sub-group of vegetarianism, you can also consume eggs, cheese, milk, and yogurt. It is ideal to have a meal plan in place to ensure you follow your particular sub-group’s requirements and do not accidentally consume something you prefer not to. For example, it’s crucial to remember that something like mayonnaise is off-limits for lacto vegetarians and vegans because it is made with eggs.

Vegetarians should do their best to ensure a wide variety of food choices, since they are missing out on some of the nutrients from meat and fish. Vary your meals and try eating:

  • Fruits, such as apples, berries, mango, pineapple
  • Vegetables, such as Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots
  • Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts
  • Legumes, such as chickpeas, black beans, green peas, lima beans, kidney beans
  • Seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds (preferably homegrown and unsalted versions)
  • Grains, such as barley, quinoa, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole oats
  • Plant-based proteins, such as tofu (along with others that fall under previous categories, such as quinoa and chickpeas)

If you are able to consume dairy products, opt for low-fat versions and limit your intake. If you eat eggs, go for egg whites rather than the yolk if you want to limit cholesterol.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Vegetarian?

Being a vegetarian offers many health benefits, which is why it has become a popular lifestyle choice.

You Gain Significant Nutrition

First, you receive significant nutrition from the vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods you consume within this diet. However, one nutrient you may lack in your diet is Vitamin B12, so it’s important to be aware of this fact. Some of the top sources include liver, clams, trout, beef, and dairy products, which many vegetarians avoid. Shiitake mushrooms and dried seaweed are decent sources, so add more of these to your weekly meals or snacks to make up for it. Otherwise, it may be best to take a supplement. Be sure to speak with your doctor about it for the best solution for you. The many other minerals and vitamins you receive, however, more than make up for this.

Improved Heart Health

The fatty acids found in many foods are not ideal. Trans fats found in processed meats and packaged snacks, for example, are terrible for your heart health and cholesterol. Vegetarians avoid much of this problem. Instead, you receive many of the good fatty acids, such as omega-3s and unsaturated fats that can help to lower your cholesterol. This can decrease your risk of heart disease.

Reduced Weight

Because you are focusing on fresh foods and grains, and avoiding processed junk, you are more likely to experience a reduction in weight. Weight loss can have numerous benefits in itself, including improved mental health, joint health, sleep quality, and more.

How Many Vegetarians Are There in the United States and the World?

When World Vegetarian Day is recognized annually on October 1, nearly 1.5 billion people have the opportunity to celebrate. Many vegans join in on the celebration, but there is also a World Vegan Day specific to this group just one month later.

The entire month of October has been deemed Vegetarian Awareness Month in the United States, giving the more than 7 million Americans who have adopted this lifestyle even more time to celebrate.

Who Are Some Famous Vegetarians?

Many famous faces are vegetarians. Paul McCartney started his meatless journey in the 1970s after he and his wife, Linda, purchased a farm. They could hardly stomach eating a lamb after seeing several of them frolicking outside. Quite a few actors have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle as well, including Liam Hemsworth, Lea Michele, Christian Bale, Jason Shwartzman, and Kristen Bell.

What Do Chiropractors Know About Nutrition?

Chiropractors have advanced knowledge regarding nutrition and how it impacts joint health. Certain foods, including red meat, are highly processed and contain saturated fats. These factors can lead to inflammation and joint discomfort. A vegetarian diet pairs well with what chiropractors suggest to eat that will help keep the joints functioning optimally. They encourage whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables. And, of course, you should pair your meal with a glass of water. Chiropractors are believers in whole body health, so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor of chiropractic a question about nutrition the next time you visit The Joint Chiropractic.

Combine a Healthier Diet With Chiropractic for Optimal Health

Whether you choose to become a vegetarian, or simply join the “Meatless Monday” movement, a healthier diet in any regard is ideal for improved well-being. Add chiropractic care to your list of healthy habits and you’ll achieve optimal health even easier.

Routine adjustments from The Joint Chiropractic can give your body the flexibility it needs to exercise well. Do what you can to improve your wellness, and watch for all the benefits that doing so brings.

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