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Types of Vegetarian Diets

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Types of Vegetarian Diets.

Normally vegetarian diets are those that eliminate animal foods, replacing them with plant-based foods. So, a vegetarian would exclude meat and fish, and replace them with veggies, fruits, legumes/beans tubers, whole grains and healthy fats. However, some vegetarians choose to still include dairy, eggs or fish in their diets.

Many people can benefit from adding more raw foods to their diets, assuming their digestive systems tolerate them well. You don’t have to follow a strict raw vegan food diet to reap the benefits of eating more plant foods. “Raw foods” in the context of a vegetarian/vegan diet consist of those that have not been heated over 46º C or 115º F. Some of the best raw foods to include in your diet often include:

·        Nuts and seeds

·        Raw spices

·        Seaweeds

·        Roots and root vegetables (squashes included)

·        Fresh herbs

·        Sprouted whole grains

·        Soaked legumes or beans

·        All kinds of raw fruits and vegetables

·        Sprouts

·        Fresh fruit and vegetable juices

Other foods and ingredients that are minimally processed and healthy additions include:

·        Cold-pressed oils

·        Vinegars and food that has been cured by vinegar

·        Unprocessed olives

·        Pure maple syrup

·        Raw cocoa/dark chocolate

·        Raw nut butters

·        Raw nut milks

·        Dried fruits and vegetables

·        Fermented foods like miso and kimchi

There are several variations and definitions to distinguish between, when talking about vegetarianism. Here are the most common types of vegetarian diets:

Vegan Diet

Those following a vegan diet abstain from ALL animal products and consume only plant-based foods. Some vegans choose to take things a step further and stick with to a mostly “raw food diet.” Going on a purely raw diet may sound a bit extreme, but if you look at the food most people tend to eat all the time, you’ll realize that adding raw food to your diet may be beneficial to your body and overall health. Note, however, that folks dealing with digestive issues, such as leaky gut syndrome, are best keeping raw foods to a minimum.

Ovo-lacto Vegetarian

A “strictly” vegetarian diet consists of plant-based foods, but may also include eggs and dairy. Typically, no fish or meat of any kind will be included. When eggs and dairy products are included, it’s called an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet.

Pescatarian Diet

Pescatarian diets include fish and seafood along with a variety of plant foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, beans, etc.). Most also include eggs and dairy but no poultry, beef or red meat, although it depends on the individual.

Benefits

Environment-friendly

Manufacturing animal foods requires a higher proportion of water, land, fossil fuels and energy than most plant foods do. Many people choose to reduce the amount of meat, fish and other animal foods in their diets in order to lower their carbon footprints. Plant foods are “lower on the food chain” and require less natural resources, such as water and others, to produce.

Antioxidants and Vitamins

Almost all plant-based foods offer high amounts of antioxidants and/or have some anti-inflammatory properties, which means they help stop the progression of disease by supplying nutrients that fight oxidative stress. Diets that are high in vegetables, fruit and other plant foods like legumes or ancient grains provide lots of nutrients, including antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as flavonoids, resveratrol, quercetin, beta-carotene and more; essential vitamins, such as vitamin C, E and A; trace minerals, such as manganese or phosphorus; and electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.

A nutrient-dense diet is beneficial for gut health, boosting immunity against illnesses, slowing down the effects of aging, protecting against cancer and heart disease, and preventing deficiencies that can lead to many negative reactions.

Digestive Enzymes

Some nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids, are destroyed or altered when food is cooked at high temperatures or for long periods. Eating too much cooked food creates waste in the body that cannot even be used, which in turn may have a clogging effect on the body. While the pancreas and other cells make enzymes in the body, raw foods provide more enzymes for the body to use. In a diet of purely cooked foods, the pancreas and other organs may become overworked due to how there is no external enzyme source.

 

If you choose to include a good amount raw foods in your diet, you’ll benefit from obtaining higher amounts of enzymes that serve many purposes. When cooked over a certain temperature, enzymes found in raw food often become destabilized. Enzymes are important because they are needed to break down the food into smaller nutritional units that the body can handle.