Vegetarian And Vegan

Guide to vegetarian and vegan diet plans

The decision to eliminate meat from your diet can be a difficult one. For many, morals and beliefs collide with undeniable preferences and a practical lifestyle—are you willing to give up something you enjoy and work harder to make up for the lost nutrients? If you have decided that a meatless life is the life for you, it's time to create a dietary plan that will satisfy your body's needs as much as your personal values.

As you know, animal foods provide your body with important protein and nutrients, so a vegan or vegetarian diet must incorporate other sources of the protein, vitamins and minerals that are typically found in meat. Discover what a healthy vegetarian diet contains, how to choose an appropriate dietary lifestyle for you and what to watch out for when converting to a vegan diet.

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Types of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

You may be surprised at the range of vegetarian diets out there: "flexitarian," "lacto-ovo vegetarian" and "vegan" are some popular versions, though there are even more ways to tailor a special diet to suit your particular needs. Begin by determining just what you are comfortable with eating—if you'd like to shift the focus to nutritious fruits and vegetables, you can limit your intake of animal foods in amount and frequency as a flexitarian. If consuming dairy and eggs doesn't bother you, perhaps a lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle is right. A vegan diet will only include plant-based foods, eliminating any animal ingredients and any product that comes from an animal, edible or inedible.

Within these broad categories, you'll find some more refined vegan and vegetarian diets. For instance, the tremendous move toward unprocessed foods in recent years has manifested as the vegan raw food diet in the vegan culture. Essentially, raw vegans believe that cooking (especially at high temperatures) will destroy important enzymes and nutrients in the food, so they only eat uncooked and unprocessed plant foods. Instead of cooking, the primary methods of preparation are blending, juicing, dehydrating and soaking foods to make meals more digestible and less monotonous.

Keys to a Healthy Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Plan

Not every vegetarian or vegan diet is for everybody, and should in fact be avoided by some people. The raw food diet is generally considered inappropriate for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with anemia or anyone at risk for osteoporosis. Those who do take on this diet should be prepared to devote considerable time and effort to stay healthy and avoid serious nutritional deficiencies. As for the 1,200-calorie vegetarian diet, you'll achieve your weight loss goals and keep your body functioning well if you focus more on fresh vegetables and whole grains than on fruits and dairy products.

One danger of vegetarian and vegan diets is food boredom. Most people enjoy a variety of tasty food, and cutting out a food group can leave you feeling deprived and unsatisfied. Don't stick to just one favorite low-calorie and vegetarian recipe; explore the myriad cookbooks and websites devoted to helping you achieve a healthy and vibrant vegetarian lifestyle.

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