You may believe that eating a plant-based diet automatically qualifies you as a vegetarian. This is not true. So, what is the distinction?
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
Vegetarianism is defined as a diet free of meat, fish, and fowl flesh. However, vegetarians' eating habits are diverse. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians eschew animal meat but consume eggs and milk products. On the other hand, Vegans avoid eating (and frequently wearing) all animal-based goods, including honey. Vegans who consume mostly raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, sprouts, and nuts are known as raw foodists.
Pescatarians consume fish and seafood, whereas Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but not eggs. Fruitarians consume fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods. A macrobiotic diet consists primarily of grains, although it can also include fish. They may not always identify as vegetarians.
Flexitarians are vegetarians who consume meat and fish on occasion.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet focuses on eating primarily plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds. For example, you might consume a plant-based diet that includes a vegetarian diet (Lacto-ovo) along with small amounts of fish and eggs, or it may include consuming no meat, fish, or animal products at all (vegan).
If you follow a plant-based diet, you may still choose to eat seafood and eggs, but your primary focus will be on plant-based foods.
A plant-based diet can be rich in some nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, plant-based diets may not include enough other nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and calcium.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people eat at least 2.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables each day.
This amounts to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that whole grains should comprise 50 to 75 percent of each meal, while legumes should make up 8 to 11 servings a week. Most Americans fail to meet these recommendations.
Is a Plant-Based Diet Healthy?
There has been research on the impact of a plant-based diet. on health is limited. Many Some studies indicate suggest that plant-based die candietscan may improve health and even reverse chronic illness. These diets may help lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
A plant-based diet provides more heart-healthy unsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts and seeds, instead of saturated fats, which tend to increase the risk of heart disease. One study found that people who ate more whole grains and legumes exhibited a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Plant-based diets may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
One study compared the effects of a low-fat vegan diet to a low-fat diet that included small amounts of animal products. The participants who followed a vegan diet lost more weight, had lower cholesterol levels and improved other cardiovascular risk factors.
Because a plant-based diet may lack nutrients, it is also important to choose different varieties of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to ensure you're consuming a complete range of nutrients.
Plant-based diets, including raw-food diets, can be great ways to eat healthily. However, it is important to recognize their limitations. Make sure to have a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts.
Learning how to start a plant-based diet can be an intimidating topic for most people, but when you start to dip your toes into this lifestyle and choose the right food groups, you'll realize that there is nothing to be scared of at all.
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