As you may know by now, I am vegetarian but occasionally I do eat fish. I started eating this way in college after hearing Dr. Neil Barnard speak at the annual American Dietetic Association’s Conference. His research has shown that vegan and vegetarian diets can effectively manage and treat Type 2 Diabetes (abstract), improve health and worker productivity when implemented at work sites (abstract), and improve plasma lipid levels (abstract).
Meat free diets have also been shown to decrease the risk of many types of cancer (research here) , reduce the risk of heart disease (abstract), decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome (abstract), and are associated with a lower incidence of obesity (abstract).
I am not one to preach a vegan or vegetarian diet on anyone – but in celebration of vegetarian awareness month I encourage you to give it a shot. Try to be meat-free for at least 2 weeks this month. Which type of vegetarianism you choose is up to you. Here are some recipes to get you started.
TYPES OF VEGETARIANISM:
- Vegans do not consume any animal products including meat, poultry, seafood, milk, or eggs.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not consume meat, fish, or poultry, but do include eggs and milk products in their diets.
- Lacto vegetarians include milk, but no other animal products in their diets.
- Ovo vegetarians include eggs, but no other animal products in their diets.
- Pescatarians include fish in their diets, and some also consume milk and egg products, but meat and poultry are not included.
For tips on making sure you are consuming a balanced, but meat free diet – check out the following article Meeting Nutritional Needs on a Vegetarian Diet. For information on vegetarian diets for athletes refer to this Sports Nutrition for Vegetarians Tip Sheet and this book by D. Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RD, CSSD, FACSM (Vegetarian Sports Nutrition).
Have you tried a vegetarian diet before? Did you notice any improvements in your health? If not, would you be willing to try it out? What barriers would prevent you from adopting this eating pattern?