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What are the different types of vegetarians?
There’s two kinds of vegetarians. One would be lacto-ovo vegetarian, which are people who eat eggs and milk products, but they’re not eating things like beef and pork and chicken and fish. And then a vegan is somebody who doesn’t eat any animal products whatsoever. But, a lot of people call themselves vegetarian and they’re eating fish. So, we kind of call those flexitarians.
What about true vegetarians?
A true vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat animal products with perhaps the exception of egg and dairy products.
What are some reasons to have a vegetarian lifestyle?
Some people do it for health, other people adopt a vegetarian lifestyle because of ethical reasons, maybe about the treatment of animals, some people would do it for religious reasons. And it is cheaper. If you eat a plant-based diet, it is a lot cheaper then going out and buying meat and fish.
What are the biggest healthful benefits of a vegetarian diet?
There’s really a health advantage if you do vegetarianism in a healthy way. A lot of the saturated fat foods and the high fat meat, and some of the things that we have access to, say in fast food places, we just wouldn’t be eating. And that, overall, would just cut our heart disease risk, cancer risk, our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Even vegetarian people have been found to have stronger bones than nonvegetarians.
Can the human body really handle eating plants as a primary food?
The body is really suited for plants, in fact the body needs plants to function. Just the grains and the fibers, say in fruits and vegetables and grains, is really important for your whole gastrointestinal functioning. We need the mechanical stimulation of the fiber for our gastro intestinal system to work well. And we also need, what they call, phytochemicals, protective antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, to protect us from disease. So we are very dependant on plants. We have to have plants in our diet.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's nutrition services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about nutrition, read the Nutrition News archive.