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Wednesday, 12 February 2020 15:29

Considering Going Vegetarian? Here's What You Should Know

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A vegan is someone who does not eat any animal by-products, including meat, poultry, game, fish or shellfish. While a vegan diet is generally viewed as the strictest form of vegetarianism,  there are several other types of vegetarians. For example,  some may avoid all animal flesh, but may consume dairy and egg products (lacto-ovo vegetarians). Others may exclude all animal products except for fish (pescatarians).

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, the number of Americans who say they are vegetarian has grown to 5% in reent years. As part of this trend, and to meet the growing demand for plant-based meals, the fast food giants have begun offering meatless version of their burgers.

For many people the move to reduce or eliminate meat from their diet is done for health reasons. Research has shown that eating more plant-based foods can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. A vegetarian diet has also been show to reduce rates of obesity.

Nutritional Factors To Consider

Plant-based diets are cholesterol free and tend to be low in saturated fat. Eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy products can naturally provide a high degree of important vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, when removing animal products from the menu it's important to plan carefully to avoid lowering the intake of some important nutrients. A poorly planned vegetarian diet may lack sufficient iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin D. An insufficient intake of these nutrients as well as omega-3 fatty acids and B12, can have a negative impact on your health, including mental and physical health.

If you have made the switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet,  consider having your blood nutrient levels measured. It may be necessary to eat fortified foods and supplements to ensure you are consuming sufficient levels of iron, calcium, omega-3 and vitamins D and B12.

Whether you are switching to a vegan diet or looking to restrict your consumption of meat and animal by products, careful planning is important to ensure you are receiving the right amount of essential nutrients to help you avoid any potential health problems over the long term.

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