Vegetarianism is a term encompassing foods that contain the foods from plant origin. A vegetarian diet excludes all animal products including eggs, dairy products and honey. There are different kinds of diet – an ovo-vegetarian diet – includes eggs but not dairy products, a lacto-vegetarian diet – includes dairy products but not eggs and an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet that includes both eggs and dairy products.
Lacto-Vegetarian Diet – The most common diet in India:
In general, lacto-vegetarian diet is very common in our society. It includes dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ghee, etc, and excludes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc. A vegetarian diet is the key for good health. It is important to eat variety of foods, e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grain cereals, soya products, etc. A well planned vegetarian diet is healthy, nutritionally adequate and provides health benefits in the preventive and treatment of certain diseases. Vegetarian diets contain higher level of carbohydrates, fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin E, phyto-chemicals and minerals like potassium, magnesium, etc, and lower level of saturated fat, cholesterol and phosphorus.
A Vegetarian Diet can keep your body & heart healthy:
- A vegetarian diet is helpful to control type II diabetes mellitus, heart disease, blood pressure and reduces the risk of many chronic diseases.
- Many studies have shown that mortality from heart disease in vegetarian is 30% lower in male and 20% lower in female than in non-vegetarian.
- Many studies also show that vegetarians suffer less with digestive disorders including gall bladder disease, constipation and colon cancer.
- The relationship between vegetarian diet and bone health is remaining unclear. Some studies have shown that animal proteins have negative effects on bone health and vegetarians may be less prone to osteoporosis. A vegetarian has greater bone mineral density and more bone formation.
- Protein and calcium intake in vegetarian diet is lower than non vegetarian but it may maintain properly with lacto-vegetarian diet. In general, vegetarian diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, but it can be maintained by including soya, walnut, pumpkin seeds, canola oil, flaxseed, etc.
- Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products but those who are lacto-vegetarian may maintain the requirement. Some time vitamin B12 supplementation is required to avoid deficiency, which can cause neurological problem and pernicious anaemia.
We all know that elephant is the heaviest and strongest animal on the earth and is a vegetarian. So, we may say that vegetarian diet is healthy for us.