I was not clear about the difference between “Vegetarian” and “Vegan” for a while. My friend Kyrsty calls herself Vegetarian and another friend Craig calls himself Vegan. I knew that they don’t eat meat of any kind. However, Kyrsty loves candies and sweets. It may be because vegetarians have a tendency to crave sugar.
As far as I know, Craig is a Vegan who only eats raw vegetables and fruits. Vegan is the strict form of Vegetarianism. Vegans prefer not to eat nor use animal products and by-products including: dairy products, eggs, honey, fur, wool, leather, and so on.
Some think that Vegetarianism seems to be the key factor in decreasing chronic diseases and increasing longevity. Vegetarian diet appears to be more cleansing and/or detoxifying compared to Standard American Diet (SAD) which consists of higher fat and protein. It is because a Vegetarian diet usually contains high dietary fiber and water within fruits and vegetables. It is also more alkaline (which is preferable) and is higher in many vitamins and minerals than any other diet.
When I was working with Craig, I used to ask him if he was taking any supplements. Since he only eats fresh fruits and vegetables, I was concern that his diet may be lacking protein and other important nutrients. Moreover, there is some evidence that parasites and intestinal yeast overgrowth is present in vegetarians, due to lower protein intake and higher sugar content in diet. To add, fatigue and weakness are common physical problems in vegetarians with low protein diets. For these matters, eating protein rich foods, such as grains, seeds, legumes, (eggs and dairy products, if permitted in one’s diet) along with any vegetable proteins, is suggested for obtaining adequate protein.
The other common concern with a vegetarian diet is that a high-fiber diet might not provide enough important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and so on. Supplementation is one effective way to fulfill Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). However, you can consciously choose foods that your body needs.
Here are potentially (and typically) lacking nutrients within a vegetarian diet and foods that are rich in each nutrient:
- Protein rich foods: dairy products (if included in your diet), nuts, seeds, legumes, cereals
- Vitamin B12 rich foods: yeast extract, alfalfa sprouts, seaweed, fortified soy milk,
- Iron rich foods: green leafy vegetables, dried beans and legumes
- Calcium rich foods: broccoli, kale, bok choy, dairy products and eggs (if included in your diet)
In my opinion, a “Balanced diet” is the ultimate goal for healthy living. Vegetarianism is great if you are aware of eating a variety of foods to achieve RDA. Vegan is wonderful if you can find alternatives for potentially lacking nutrients within your food choices. Supplementation is always an option to support these cleansing and/or detoxifying diets.
All is well, all the best!