Also read: For vegetarian recipes, check out Patch's Meatless Monday for ideas.
When we think of vegetarians, I think most of us simply associate that with people who do not eat meat. However, there are different types of vegetarianism and varying degrees in which people follow the meatless diet.
- Vegans do not eat any meat products, including dairy and eggs. In addition, they do not use any animal products in their clothing, soap, or consumer products.
- Lacto-vegetarians eat plant foods and dairy products, but not eggs.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat plant food, dairy products and include eggs in their diet.
- Partial vegetarians or semi-vegetarians eat plant food, dairy and eggs, but my also include small portions of poultry, fish or other types of seafood.
According to myplate.gov, the vegetarian diet can be a healthy choice for people as long as they eat a variety of food to make up for not getting some of the protein and nutrients from eating meat products. For example, we know we get protein from eating various types of meat, but you can also get protein from nuts, beans and soy products such as tofu. For the lacto-vegetarians, they can get protein from milk products.
Another common mineral often missing from a vegetarian diet is iron, but iron can be found in iron fortified cereal, peas, beans, and some dried fruit. The same is true for calcium. You can get calcium from dark leafy greens, orange juice, tofu made with calcium sulfate, milk products and supplements. Even though we can get these essential vitamins and minerals from eating meat, the point is there are other resources with which to maintain a healthy balanced diet.
There is no one reason why people chose to follow a vegetarian diet. Some do it for health reasons, religious beliefs, limited financial resources or food availability. Many vegetarians, especially vegans, follow this diet because of their belief in animal rights and humane treatment of animals. Regardless of the reason for eating a vegetarian diet, they key to success is to complement your diet with the necessary vitamins and minerals omitted by not eating meat.
For those of us who choose to eat meat, let’s take a challenge to eat for two days without any meat. Plan ahead and see what kind of recipes and meals you can serve. Who knows, you might discover a new family favorite meal.