Vegetarian or vegan diet – advantages, disadvantages and differences between them

When one day we stand in front of the mirror and with a greater or lesser astonishment we find that we have gained at least a few kilograms, the first thing we can think of in such a situation is to immediately switch to a diet. It is at this very moment that we are most often faced with another problem, that of finding the right diet, which is a compromise between what we like and what we should definitely not eat. Contrary to appearances, it is not an easy task, and this resignation from favourite dishes or their ingredients is usually the most effective solution. It allows you not only to lose all excess weight in a relatively short time, but above all to permanently keep a slim, athletic figure, which is exactly what we care about the most.

Meatless diet – temporary fashion or recommended lifestyle

One of the most radical, but of course it does not mean that at the same time the ineffective method of fighting overweight is to give up eating meat and all the preserves made from it. Until recently, vegetarianism, as we call it, was considered a temporary fashion, almost a fanabery of only a group of enthusiasts and widely ridiculed. With time, however, it turned out that more and more people were interested in it, who wanted to combine taking care of their health with a more and more popular and just philosophy of not hurting any living creatures. There is a well-known saying that we do not eat our friends and there is a lot of truth in it. Vegetarianism began to conquer the world, praised by some specialists and criticized by others, with more conservative views. With the elapse of time many varieties of it were created, not only meat or sausages started to disappear from the menu, but also most other animal products, and now we can encounter various approaches to this lifestyle.

The most common varieties of vegetarianism are..:

  • frutarianism, which consists in consuming only fruit;
  • Vitarianism, whose supporters eat only vegetables;
  • lacto-vegetarianism, in this case it is allowed to eat dairy products, i.e. dairy and vegetable products, while prohibiting the consumption of eggs;
  • pesky vegetarianism, where fish and products made from them are allowed in the diet;
  • semivegetarianism, which eats fish, dairy and poultry, but not mammalian meat;
  • veganism, where only fruit and vegetables are eaten, completely excluding all products of animal origin.

Among the many varieties of this diet, vegetarianism in its original form and veganism gained the most popularity. Both of them have already reached our country, also finding their supporters, who for at least a dozen years have been arguing about a healthier diet that brings greater benefits to the general state of health. In order to resolve this conflict at least partially, we will try to bring both diets closer together, and the individual matter of each person is which one of them will be ready to decide on.

Vegetarian diet – is meat really bad for us?

Looking at the diet of the majority of our society, we are slowly becoming less surprised that overweight and obesity have now become a social problem and that enormous amounts of money are being spent every year to treat their negative effects. Let’s honestly say that we are getting fatter, and it is through a proper diet that we can not only lose weight, but also get rid of most of our diseases. That is why many specialists, both doctors and professional nutritionists more and more often recommend vegetarianism, removing all harmful ingredients of animal origin from the menu. We have to admit, however, that opinions on this matter are divided and we will meet as many supporters of eating red meat, for example, as we do of its fierce opponents.

The facts are obvious, however, on the one hand, our favourite cutlet is certainly an important source of iron and protein, but on the other hand, it contains a whole lot of not entirely healthy saturated fatty acids. Excessively supplied to the body can quickly become a cause of increasing the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which is a simple way to serious and life-threatening diseases of the heart and circulatory system. A large amount of this type of acid can also be found in fat, oil, lard and butter. Although the criticism of red meat is still controversial, it is better to replace it with healthier white meat from poultry, for example, or switch to vegetarianism and remove both types from your daily diet.

Vegetarianism – the most important health benefits

The benefits of the transition to vegetarianism seem obvious, so it is worth listening to the opinion of specialists and get rid of once and for all not only overweight, but also many health problems. A short conversation with a dietician will show us that removing meat from our diet can have a positive effect on reducing the risk of numerous diseases. This is influenced by providing the body with what is necessary for proper functioning, vitamins: A, B, C, practically all minerals, dietary fiber, healthy fatty acids Omega – 3, phytoestrogens or flavonoids.

Ailments that are prevented by a properly composed vegetarian diet:

  • the aforementioned heart and cardiovascular diseases, especially atherosclerosis, hypertension, and the risk of heart attack and stroke is also reduced;
  • Cancers, the most dangerous diseases with a high mortality rate, including prostate cancer, cancer of the intestines, cancer of the stomach, cancer of the urinary bladder, cancer of the pancreas and even cancer of the breasts;
  • kidney stones or gall bladder;
  • appendicitis;
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • all obesity-related diseases;
  • Degree II diabetes mellitus, also a cause of coexisting with it other diseases such as extremely dangerous diabetic foot syndrome.

Vegetarian diet also has a positive effect on the condition of our skin, especially by delaying to some extent the processes of its natural aging due to the elimination of ingredients that may affect the excessive activity of free radicals.

Vegetarianism – defects to be taken into account

All this, of course, looks beautiful and eliminating meat from the daily menu will certainly bring health benefits, but this diet also has some disadvantages, which are worth knowing before you decide on it. Our body is a complex mechanism, composed of many closely cooperating systems and a dysfunction of at least one of them can have an adverse effect on the others. There is no denying that meat in its red form, beef and even pork, is an important source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamins B12 and D, which is sometimes difficult to supply in any other way. Many doctors even sound the alarm, considering vegetarian diet to be a serious threat to our health, although in our opinion it seems a little exaggerated. It is important to maintain the right balance between all the components of the diet, which may initially be difficult to do. If we do not take care of this, then we must really take into account the serious health consequences, the possibility of the occurrence of such diseases as..:

  • megaloblastic anemia, i.e. anaemia, resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency in the body;
  • rickets, a disease leading to bone deformities resulting from the reduction of their mineralization, which is a result of vitamin D deficiency;
  • protein malnutrition syndrome, as the name suggests, was caused by a lack of adequate amount of protein in the body;
  • menstrual disorders;
  • disorders of the digestive system, most often in the form of troublesome diarrhoea.

Of course, all these problems can be avoided by properly composing the daily menu and ensuring that it contains large amounts of vitamins from fruit, vegetables and cereal products, calcium from dairy products and dairy products, as well as minerals, including iron, which can be found in spinach, for example.

Veganism – a diet that eliminates not only meat but also dairy products

Lovers and supporters of vegan diet, which is, as we already know, a more restrictive form of vegetarianism, decided to go even further and, in addition to eliminating meat and meat products from the menu, they also removed milk, dairy products and eggs. It is quite a radical solution, but it is gaining more and more popularity, also promoted by characters from the front pages of newspapers and gossip portals, famous actors or celebrities. This may not be the best model to follow at times, but there is no denying that veganism does not only mean a rapid loss of weight, but also other benefits for our overburdened health. Of course, this is only possible if we choose the right products for the right balance of meals. Many people are now asking themselves how they can replace meat, meat products and all other animal products in order to provide the body with the necessary nutrients. It becomes necessary to find effective meat substitutes with the same or at least similar composition, otherwise we may be exposed to diseases caused by e.g. deficiency of vitamins or other ingredients preventing them.

Veganism – how to compose meals to avoid health problems

The correct composition of a vegan meal can be difficult at first, but fortunately the right information can be found on many websites devoted to healthy eating. They publish, among other things, a weekly menu, and if we still have any doubts, such a nutrition plan can always be consulted with a nutritionist. Interestingly, we will also receive information on this subject from specialist doctors, many of whom have become fans of the vegan lifestyle.

Products included in a properly composed vegan diet:

  • cereal products made with cereals such as rye, oats, less frequently wheat, wholegrain pasta, groats, oatmeal, dark wholegrain bread;
  • vegetables and fruits in practically every form;
  • legumes, lentils, soya, beans, peas, chickpeas and broad beans;
  • nuts;
  • Soya products such as milk that can be successfully replaced are cow and tofu, an extremely popular soya cheese that is eaten both cold and hot;
  • all seeds, sunflower, linseed, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, hempseed;
  • fats exclusively of plant origin, e.g. unrefined coconut oil recommended by nutritionists, with which the amount should not be exaggerated, but rather ideal for salads;
  • the mushrooms that this year have grown exceptionally well in our forests.

Veganism – advantages and disadvantages of this type of diet

This type of diet, just like vegetarianism, requires a thoughtful approach, while having its undeniable advantages, also emphasized by the mentioned specialists. Recent research has shown that, contrary to what the sceptics claim, both diets seem to have more advantages, among which it is worth noting prevention and help in the treatment of many dangerous diseases. In the case of veganism, the list of the above mentioned diseases, for which a vegetarian diet can help, should also be supplemented with:

  • minimizing the risk of obesity, a well composed and balanced vegan diet helps to keep the weight at the right level, determined by the BMI factor;
  • maintaining the LDL cholesterol level, which is an important element in the prevention of the described heart diseases, at a level that does not pose a threat to health;
  • Significantly increased natural immunity of the body, resulting from the supply of nutrients enabling it to do so with simultaneous increase in resistance to allergies;
  • better functioning of the digestive system, faster and undisturbed burning of fats and digestion combined with the removal of toxins and other negative metabolic products from the body;
  • contribution to the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson or Alzheimer, as demonstrated by research in this area;
  • treatment and reduction of bronchial asthma symptoms;
  • long-term preservation of strong bones and healthy joints, preventing the development of osteoporosis by providing adequate doses of vitamin K, magnesium and potassium;
  • prophylaxis of caries, caused by an inappropriate diet, which is usually dominated by products containing even astronomical amounts of sugar, the largest enemy of tooth enamel.

Unfortunately, also in this diet, as in many others can be found some disadvantages. Therefore, when choosing this method of nutrition, we must also take into account certain negative consequences, resulting, however, from our mistakes, the most important of which are:

  • again, nutrient deficiencies, vitamin B12, D and fatty acids Omega – 3, without which many important systems of our body, especially the brain and nervous system, cannot function properly;
  • a lack of calcium, often resulting from a shortage in the diet of products containing calcium;
  • iron and zinc deficiency;
  • lack of proper amounts of protein, which, however, is contained in a lot of meat, and its deficiency in vegan diet also eliminates milk and dairy products from it.

Staying on a vegan or vegetarian diet should also be considered by pregnant or breast-feeding women, although recent research indicates that it is unlikely to pose a health risk to both mother and child.

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