Vegetarianism is the practice of eating a plant-based diet of fruits, seeds, vegetables, nuts and beans. Vegetarians typically eat eggs, dairy products and other animal derivatives, while vegans steer completely clear of anything containing animal products. The commonality between the different levels of vegetarianism is that none eat the actual meat of an animal.
Beyond this common tie, however, there is perhaps surprising variation among the diets of those who consider themselves to be vegetarians. For example, lacto-vegetarians include milk in their diet, while ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, and lacto-ovos eat both. Pure vegans, meanwhile, do not use any products containing animal derivatives, which may even extend to the use of cosmetics and other products that were tested on animals. At the other end of the spectrum, semi-vegetarians exclude most meat from their diet, particularly meat from mammals, although they will eat poultry and fish. Raw vegetarianism allows only the consumption of uncooked nuts, fruits, seed or vegetables. Fruitarianism is a group of vegetarians who insist on eating only fruits, nuts, seeds and plant matter which can be retrieved without harming the plant itself. Vegetarianism includes many other levels and labels, too.
What it all comes down to is personal choice and commitment. People choose vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. For some, it is because of health concerns. For others, it might be religious. Then there are those who for ethical reasons revolving around ecology and animal rights choose a meatless diet. Of course, there are many other reasons why people choose to follow a vegetarian diet and lifestyle.
Despite what critics may say, vegetarianism can actually be a healthy diet. Before making the switch, one must know what they are doing in order to maintain healthy nutrition as a vegetarian. One of the key concerns among vegetarians is protein intake. Although most people get their protein primarily from meat, these sources can be replaced by soy, quinoa, and other foods. Leafy greens, tofu, and other foods are also important for meeting vitamin, iron, and calcium requirements and getting enough of other essential nutrients. Vitamin D is also a concern for vegetarianism. For those who do not drink milk, sun exposure is key. Just 15-30 minutes a day can help. There are also Vitamin D supplements. To be on the safe side, it is a wise idea for a someone who is dedicated to vegetarianism to take a daily multi-vitamin supplement, as well as an omega-3 supplement.
For those wanting to follow the road of vegetarianism, an in-depth study of the possible options and factors would be a smart idea. Vegetarianism is a way of life, a conscious decision, and a lifestyle commitment. Whatever your reasons for choosing vegetarianism, such a diet and lifestyle does have its benefits. Before making the switch, it is important to understand the health aspects of taking meat out of your diet. Many vegetarians also explore other aspects of the lifestyle, such as the use of vegan fashions and vegan-friendly products. If what you're learning about vegetarianism sounds appealing to you, it might be be the right move for you.