Put simply, a vegetarian diet can positively impact the environment. The food supply chain plays a significant role in the overall health of the earth, and the production of meat is one of the largest contributors to the degradation of forests and the carbon dioxide that trees process back into oxygen. The environmental impact of the production of meat products in the traditional way continues to contribute to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock is responsible for 9% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all forms of transportation combined. For example, it takes 641 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, while only 30 gallons are required for 1 pound of rice. Beef also requires 4 times more land for cattle compared to the farming of produce crops. And finally, the waste produced from livestock accounts for roughly 18% of the world’s total waste.
As plant-based diets continue to gain popularity among consumers looking for sustainable food solutions overall, vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming more popular with Millennials. Of the many benefits of a vegetarian diet, plant-based diets are one solution to mitigating the environmental impact of the production of animal-based food products. Leveraging food technology and utilizing resources more efficiently is also a way to create a healthier alternative to traditional foods. The Vegetarian Butcher is one example of a company that is offering a variety of healthy, plant-based foods for vegans and vegetarians. The Vegetarian Butcher has many options from farm-to-table meals and fresh daily ingredients. The business carries products that also reduce a customer’s consumption of foods that are high in additives, sugar and sodium. After all, a well-balanced vegetarian diet can provide the body with the necessary nutrients for a healthy lifestyle, along with the environment benefits!
In addition, The Vegetarian Butcher offers 100% vegan meats that are produced in-house and also carries a variety of plant-based meat alternatives from other brands. Plant-based meats resemble the taste, look and texture of their animal counterparts, but without the saturated fat and cholesterol. The Vegetarian Butcher uses simple ingredients like wheat, soy, peas and yeast to provide a meat substitute, without the guilt.
Vegan vs. Vegetarian
The fundamental difference between the two is that vegetarians can choose to consume animal-derived products, whereas vegans do not. People who abide by a vegetarian diet do not eat any meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish, and consume a variety of vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits. A vegan is a type of vegetarian, but a vegetarian is not a vegan. Accordingly, there are many types of vegetarian diets:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians: vegetarians who avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy and egg products
- Lacto vegetarians: vegetarians who avoid animal flesh and eggs, but do consume dairy products
- Ovo vegetarians: vegetarians who avoid all animal products except eggs
- Vegans: vegetarians who avoid all animal and animal-derived products
There are several health benefits of vegetarianism including promoting good heart health, reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes as well as potentially lowering blood pressure. Vegan diets are viewed as the strictest form of vegetarianism. Veganism excludes all forms of animal-derived products, including all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. This also includes the exploitation for food for any other purpose; some common products that do not follow a vegan diet are honey, whey, gelatine, and casein.
Are vegetarians healthier than vegans?
There is no right or wrong answer, it simply depends on a person’s preference and if they are getting enough nutrients from their plant-based diet on a daily basis. Vegetarians and vegans typically consume similar levels of most nutrients. However, it’s important for a person to plan out their plant-based diet to avoid low intakes of key nutrients. There are many health benefits of vegetarianism, as a vegetarian diet is focused on plant-based nutrition.
Is a vegetarian diet safe?
A plant-based diet isn’t necessarily healthy if a person doesn’t properly plan their nutritional intake. Many restaurants and fast-food chains advertise soft drinks, fries, and breads as vegan and vegetarian friendly. However, too much saturated fat, sugar and salt from isn’t good for anyone’s health. There are a variety of plant-based options from Sophie’s Kitchen and The Vegetarian Butcher that provide a healthy alternative to traditional meat and food products.
If a person chooses to abide by a vegan or vegetarian diet for themselves or their family members, they should be mindful to carefully plan all meals and snacks in order to consume all of the essential nutrients needed, especially for pregnant/breastfeeding women, infants, and children. Alternative sources of protein (like tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts, and seeds), omega-3 fats, iron, zinc, and calcium may be needed. A person may also need to consider consuming extra vitamin B12 if they are excluding all animal products.
It’s always best for a person to consult their doctor before trying any new diet.
What are the risks of a vegetarian diet?
There are many risks associated with starting any new diet and it’s best for a person to consult with their doctor before starting any new diet. As vegetarian diets require a person to be more diligent in ensuring that they receive the right amount of nutrients, not having a sufficient intake of nutrients can cause issues like a leaky gut. Ensuring that a person is receiving enough iron and B12 from green leafy vegetables can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Incorporating a healthy intake of omega-3 fatty acids will also likely increase energy levels.
As with any new diet, a person should also avoid the excess consumption of carbohydrates and processed foods. This can lead to anaemia and other nutrient deficient health disorders.
Are vegetarians healthier?
A vegetarian diet, if well-planned out, can fulfil all your nutritional needs. However, consulting one’s doctor and building a supplement regime will ensure that a person is enjoying the healthiest vegetarian diet.
Do vegetarians have more antioxidants?
Vegetarian diets tend to be higher in antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene, as vegetarians consume many carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
Do vegetarians have more health problems?
Quality over quantity is important when assessing the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet. The quality of plant-based foods matters when it comes to measuring health benefits and ensuring that a person is not consuming a large proportion of ‘junk food’ or over-consuming carbohydrates, like pasta.
A few health problems that are common amongst those who practice a vegetarian diet are strokes, brain health, hair loss, and mood disorders (ie. depression and anxiety). It’s important for a person to consult their doctor in order to ensure that they are receiving the right amount of nutrients.
Is eating no meat healthy?
Generally, vegetarians and vegans consume less calories have a lower risk of heart disease. Research suggests that those who consume traditional meat products are at a higher risk of heart disease or diabetes. Consuming a plant-based diet can reduce these risks for optimal health.
Do vegetarians eat eggs?
Yes, many vegetarians include eggs in their diets. A vegetarian diet consists of a variety of vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits, and some vegetarian diets also allow the consumption of dairy, eggs, and some animal by-products. Those who consume eggs are ovo-vegetarian and avoid all animal products except for eggs. Eggs are a complete source of protein and contain nine essential amino acids of which we need in our diet. They are also a great source of nutrients such as vitamin D and B12.
What vitamins should I take as a vegetarian?
Anyone starting a new diet should consult with their doctor beforehand, to understand their needs when it comes to nutrients. The most common vitamins that a vegetarian should consider to ensure that they are receiving enough nutrients are:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D