For some time now, a meat-free diet has been completely on trend. More and more people are opting for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. But even if you don’t want to completely eliminate foods of animal origin, you can still reap the benefits of “veggie” meals.
Vegetarian and vegan – what does that mean exactly?
Lacto-ovo vegetarians are vegetarians who do not eat any meat and most do not eat fish. Lacto-vegetarians don’t eat eggs but they do consume milk and dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians, as they are known, are exactly the opposite.
Vegans go one step further. They cut out all animal foods completely. In addition, they often do not use animal products such as leather.
People have very different reasons for choosing a plant-based diet. Ethical convictions or health benefits are frequently a factor. Generally speaking, vegetarians often place a high priority on a balanced lifestyle and are concerned with the origin, composition and processing of their food. This results in a high consumption of plant-based foods and whole grain products. Sugar, alcohol, fast food and fat, on the other hand, rarely feature in their meals.
This means that a vegetarian diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre – an advantage when it comes to preventing obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
An alternative for everyone?
Healthy adults can normally try a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet without hesitation. However, such a diet should be varied in order to guarantee a comprehensive supply of nutrients. If a vegetarian does not eat fish, they should ensure that they eat bread and other foods containing iodised salt.
Because it’s harder for the body to absorb iron from plant-based foods, some clever combinations are called for! Vitamin C, for example, improves the absorption of iron, which is why a glass of orange juice with vegetable or whole grain dishes is a good idea.
Vegans sometimes have a B12 deficiency as this vitamin is only present in animal-based foods. In some cases, the deficiency is only apparent after a number of years. Nutritionists therefore recommend taking vitamin B12 supplements.
Old people, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and teenagers are special cases when it comes to vegetarianism. They need higher levels of nutrients. A vegetarian diet is therefore only advisable in certain cases for these groups.
Not everyone who loves fruit and vegetables wants to eat these exclusively. No problem – flexitarians can choose from a wide variety of foods. They eat mainly fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, pulses, vegetable oils and dairy products, supplementing these products now and then with meat and fish.
What are your favourite foods? Tell us!