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Ovo-vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian? There are many diets that focus on avoiding meat. We dissolve the confusion of terms. Numerous studies show that vegetarians eat a healthier diet. There are many reasons to at least try the meatless diet.

A vegetarian diet has many facets

Vegetarianism is actually a comprehensive term for different diets. They all have one thing in common: Vegetarians restrict their own consumption of animal food. Depending upon motivation they avoid only certain or even all animal products. Most completely refrain from eating meat. Others would like to enjoy at least now and then a holiday roast and call themselves „flexitarians“. These \”part-time\” vegetarians often attach great importance to meat in organic quality and from species-appropriate animal husbandry. Most vegetarians belong to one of the following groups:

  • Ovo-Lacto vegetarians do not eat meat and fish, but eggs and dairy products.
  • Vegans feed exclusively on vegetable foods.

Depending on the diet, there are other vegetarian forms. The name depends on the Latin name of the food included.

  • Pescetarians (piscarius = fish) not eat meat, but eat fish, seafood and other animal products.
  • Ovo-vegetarians (ovo = egg) avoid meat, fish and dairy products, but include eggs in their diet.
  • Lacto-vegetarians (lacto = milk) reject meat, fish and eggs, but consume milk products.

Vegetarians have good reasons

There are many valid arguments in favour of a meatless diet. Most become vegetarians for ethical and/or health reasons. Only a few vegetarians avoid meat for religious reasons or simply because they don’t like meat.

Ethical reasons for not eating meat

Many vegetarians are concerned about the well-being of the animals. They reject industrial meat production, which is a painful ordeal for farm animals, starting in the cramped barn and ending in the slaughterhouse.

Many vegetarians also cite ecological reasons. They point out that livestock farming places a heavy burden on the environment and the climate. Animal husbandry produces a considerable amount of greenhouse gases. Another serious issue for some is the fact that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the animal feed requirements needed for mass livestock farming consume enormous resources. This is at the expense of less developed countries and exacerbates world hunger.

Live vegetarian and stay healthy

Rotten minced beef, bird flu and dioxin-contaminated animal feed: The numerous meat scandals have spoiled the appetite of some consumers. In addition, many vegetarians also enjoy the benefits of a meatless diet.

Numerous studies support a vegetarian lifestyle. Particularly the ovo-lacto-vegetarian variant is considered as health-promoting. Vegetarians are less likely to be overweight and affected by chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. In general, vegetarians live longer thanks to their healthy diet. This is shown, for example, by the EPIC-Oxford Study, a long-term monitoring study conducted since 1993 that focuses on life-prolonging effects. According to this study, not eating meat seems to be an important measure to prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer – diseases associated with a high mortality rate. The same conclusion is reached by the Heidelberg Vegetarian Study of the German Cancer Research Centre.

What is certain is that even the absence of red and heavily industrially processed meat has a positive effect. After all, it contains a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol. Meat eaters also have an intestinal flora in which bacteria release a metabolic product that increases the harmful effects of cholesterol. Vegetable food, especially vegetables, seems to favour a good intestinal flora . It is rich in dietary fibres containing prebiotics. From these, those intestinal bacteria that strengthen the immune system and prevent intestinal infections feed themselves. This is how a vegetable diet supports health-promoting bacterial strains. Take our intestinal test INTEST.pro if you want to know your microbial profile.

Vegetarians do not automatically eat healthily

However, those who eat vegetarian food do not eat healthier per se and do not automatically have a slim figure. After all, meat-free fries are also dripping with fat, and soft drinks are real sugar bombs. Just as important as not eating meat is a balanced diet. Instead of ready meals and fast food, fresh vegetables, legumes and fruit are therefore far better meat alternatives. They contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances which are indispensable for a healthy organism. Vegans also benefit from the fact that they only consume healthier vegetable proteins and fats.

Anyone who wants to become a vegetarian for health reasons should be aware that life style also plays an important role. People who ban meat from their diet generally think more about their food and pay more attention to their health than omnivors. Studies show that vegetarians smoke less often, drink less alcohol and exercise more.

Become a vegetarian and change your diet correctly

As a future vegetarian, you should know what to look out for. Only then will the change succeed and you will profit from the numerous benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Prevent nutrient deficiency

Especially vegans should prevent a deficiency of important vitamins and minerals. Legumes and vegetables are rich in nutrients, but cannot cover everything.

Protein and iron requirements

Vegetarians can, for example, switch to dairy products or soya, which are an alternative to meat as a large source of protein and iron.

Nutrition plan for the changeover

Those who set up a nutrition plan do not quickly forget important nutrient suppliers during their daily meals and eat a balanced vegetarian diet.

Read the packaging correctly

Strict vegetarians should know important ingredients. This will prevent them from accidentally reaching for the wine gum made with pig gelatine. Care should also be taken with meat substitutes from the supermarket shelf. They are rich in high-quality proteins. However, the health balance is ruined by numerous chemical additives and the high salt content.

More information about INTEST.pro The BIOMES intestinal test

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