In this post I will briefly talk about some different diets and why people may opt-in for a vegetarian or a vegan diet. Feel free to comment your thoughts and add on to the subject in the comments.
Different types of diets:
Vegetarianism: There are three types of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume egg and dairy products but do not eat meat or fish. Lacto vegetarians consume dairy products (yoghurt, milk and cheese) but do not eat egg, meat or fish. Ovo vegetarians consume eggs but do not consume dairy, meat or fish.
Veganism: Vegans are though to be the strictest of vegetarians. They do not eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs. Some people who practice this diet will eat honey, however many do not because it is an animal product. This really depends on personal beliefs and why the person has chosen this diet. I personally think honey should not be included in a vegan diet, after all it is an animal by-product as the bees add enzymes in the process of making the honey. Some vegans will not use any animal products or by-products such as wool, leather or silk but that will relate more towards the lifestyle choice rather than the diet.
Pescatarianism: Though this diet is not exactly vegetarian, it can overlap with what we are talking about here so I thought I would add it as well. People who practice this diet do not eat meat but will eat fish, some would also consume dairy products.
Flexitarianism: Some will argue that there is no such diet and that you are simply a meat eater, however I wanted to add this in here too as some people may use this to transition into full-time veganism as it is thought to reduce meat consumption. As veganism becomes more popular in society some people have started eating more plant-based foods and have started adding meat more infrequently to their meals, perhaps once or twice a week.
Alkaline: Thought to be a extreme plant-based diet, where people who practice it will focus on consuming alkaline rich “god-made” plants and avoid highly acidic foods. Some will often go to the extent and cut out hybrid “man-made” plants. Some living this lifestyle will often not consume GMO or canned produce. This is not to say that people who choose to practise the previously mentioned diets may not opt-in for non-gmo produce or avoid canned and processed foods.
Other: There are many different types of diets and lifestyles, some of which include Fruitarianism, a Raw Foods diet and Juicing.
Why people choose different types of diets:
Health: The above diets have plenty of health benefits, I am not going to go in-depth about it here as I feel like there is too much information to cover in a single bullet point. However, I think all will agree that one of the main benefits of the above diets is the large amount of plant food consumed. These reduce the risk of many chronic diseases and fill our bodies with vital minerals and vitamins. The other point would be the reduced intake of animal products which have been linked to heart disease, stroke, clogged arteries and some types of cancer. Many people following the above diets choose to avoid animal products and by-products for this exact reason. Other may choose to still eat animal products, depending on the way the animal was raised and looked after as they do not agree in the methods used by the dairy and meat industries. For example they may object to the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and only eat “humainly” farmed animals.
Religion: Some religions require people to follow a certain diet in order to properly practice their faith. Some examples may include Buddhism, people who follow this religion are often vegetarian. Rastafarians are often vegan or vegetarian and Hindus are often lacto-vegetarian.
Ethics: A lot of people stop eating meat and dairy because of their concern about animal welfare. Some disagree with factory farming, where animals are tightly squeezed into cages and are raised in horrible conditions. Others disagree with the methods used in the dairy industry and others simply do not believe in the killing of animals for food.
Economics: People may choose or be forced into some of these diets from an economical point of view. In general plants cost much less than meat does, this is due to all the costs involved in raising an animal. Some of those costs include animal housing, veterinary services, a lot of grain and water. These costs push the prices of meat up making it unaffordable for many people over the world. In some societies people will only eat meat on special occasions because of the high price compared to beans etc. Beans are a high protein source that costs much less to produce. With this point of view in mind, I always wonder how can people think that an all plant based diet is expensive? Don’t get me wrong, it can be expensive depending on what you buy but generally the staples in a vegan diet are quite cheap, unless you choose to buy all organic. Prices can also vary depending on where you live.
To conclude, you don’t have to eat a specific type of diet or put yourself in a specific category such as vegetarian or vegan etc. People are often very judgemental, be humble and remember that some of the things you now know, you didn’t know yesterday. We can only try and do our best to be a better person than we were yesterday. I personally would recommend a whole foods plant based diet, you decide how far you want to take it in terms of organic produce or non-canned and hybrid plants. Take it one step at a time, self improvement is a long journey. Take what you can from the information provided and most importantly do your own research. I hope one day this could help somebody.
Source: I learned the above information during my plant-based journey, some through research, watching documentaries and some while studying my nutrition course.