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Vegetarianism – what does that mean?

Who waived on meat, he is not alone. The National Nutrition Survey in 2006 was around 1.6% Europeans vegetarians, the vegetarian covenant even 7 – 8%. In India, the country of origin of vegetarianism, the proportion is even higher: there, about 40% of the population eat meatless. Vegetarians deliberately eat no meat and no fish. Often, there are very different reasons. The protection of animals is an important motive for many. Others refrain from ethical and religious, ecological or health reasons. Accordingly, the choice of food is different. While some feed exclusively of vegetable products, other consume products also of live animals, such as milk or honey. But how healthy is a vegetarian nutrition?vegetarianism

From the ascetic renunciation to environmental protection

Biologically speaking, man is an omnivore that can eat both plant and animal food. The conscious decision to avoid meat was in Europe for the first time had practiced in the 6th century BC. The followers of Orpheus pursued asceticism in all walks of life. The idea was picked up a few centuries later by Pythagoras, who called to consume no “animated creatures”. Until mid 19th century, vegetarianism was therefore called “Pythagorasmus”. Over the centuries many famous people lived as vegetarians. A real boom come in the 1970s with the environmental and animal rights movement.

Forms of vegetarianism

Depending on the selection of allowed foods one distinguishes different vegetarian diets:

Ovo-lacto-vegetarians eat neither meat nor fish, but eat eggs and dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians refrain besides meat and fish on milk and dairy products, but eat eggs. Lacto-vegetarians allow all besides meat and fish and eggs but consume milk and dairy products.

Strict vegetarians, called Vegans, reject all products that come from animals. Shun not only meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, but also honey and animal auxiliaries in the food processing, such as gelatin. Even when the clothes make vegans mostly on the materials and do not carry items made of leather or wool. They also put in other items such as detergents and cleaning agents it important that these are free of animal products.

In a broader sense also Pescetarians among the vegetarians. You do not eat meat, but eat fish and other animal products. However, the vegetarian organizations distance themselves from them.

Who calls himself a chance vegetarian, belongs to the group of “Flexitarians”. These emphasize healthy eating and have occasional and rather little meat stand on their menu.

Life vegetarians healthier?

Long-term studies on the health status of vegetarians show that an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet has many advantages. So vegetarians suffer less from obesity and hypertension and have better cholesterol levels. The main reason is the large proportion of fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains in this diet. These provide few calories, but many favorable nutrients like complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

The situation is different, however, from a vegan diet. Who avoid all animal products and feeds exclusively on plants, has to select his food very carefully in order to avoid deficiencies. In particular, the supply of calcium, iodine, iron and vitamins B2, B6 and B12 is often not sufficiently secured. Vitamin B12 for example, is found almost exclusively in animal foods. The only exception are plant-based foods that are produced by using bacteria such as sauerkraut.

Vegans need an extensive knowledge of the composition of the food in order to meet the daily nutritional needs can. For persons with increased nutritional needs, such as pregnant and lactating women, the elderly and children, a vegan lifestyle is not suitable. For infants and young children, they may even be dangerous.

Balanced nutrition with or without meat

Whether you eat meat or not, is ultimately not decisive for health. On one hand, provide our body with quality meat protein and essential vitamins and is a very good source of iron. On the other hand, excessive meat bring the typical diseases of our time: obesity, gout, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Who wants to eat a healthy, especially should nutrition versatile and follow the 10 rules for a balanced diet. Recommended to consume no more than 300 – 600 grams of meat and sausage per week. This low-fat meat such as poultry should be preferred. Also important is a large amount of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. People who eat no meat, can meet its protein requirements with dairy products and eggs or legumes.

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