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Vegetarian diet: Does it benefit our body or not?

How often have you been in a group where a discussion about vegetarianism will arise and opinions will differ? On the occasion of World Vegetarian Day, which is celebrated on October 1st, Holigreen enters the conversation, not to criticize your eating habits, but to inform you about the vegetarian diet and the benefits it offers to the human body.

In order to properly start the discussion, we should all know what the vegetarian diet is, what are its types, where it came from, and why more and more people are choosing it lately. Vegetarianism is the practice of not eating meat. The “classic” vegetarian diet excludes red meat, poultry, fish, molluscs, and shellfish. Starting from this general definition, there are the following categories of vegetarians:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians: They eat eggs and dairy
  • Lacto vegetarians: They eat dairy products
  • Ovo vegetarians: They eat eggs
  • Pescatarians: Eat fish
  • Vegans: They do not eat anything of animal origin, like dairy, eggs, honey, and gelatin are excluded from their diet.

The vegetarian diet is first found in ancient Greece, where Pythagoras urged his followers to abstain from meat not only for ethical reasons but also to keep their bodies in balance. Apart from Greece, over the centuries we find vegetarianism in India, China, the Middle East, Ethiopia, and England.

Today, more and more people choose to include a vegetarian diet in their lives, changing their everyday life radically. The reasons that prompted them to make this choice may be moral, nutritional, religious, environmental, social, spiritual, political, or even psychological.

Regardless of the reason they chose this particular way of eating, vegetarians have adopted a lifestyle that also improves their health. Based on scientific studies, vegetarianism protects the body from less severe diseases such as cholesterol or more serious ones such as cancer and diabetes.

But some question these findings and wonder where someone would get the nutrients found in animal products if they stopped eating meat. Won’t it do more harm to his health than good? The answer to this question is that the nutrients are not only found in animal products, but also in many plant foods such as legumes and wholegrains. For this reason, vegetarianism should be done correctly and in cases where there are serious health reasons, potential vegetarians should consult with a specialist nutritionist or a doctor.

Happy World Vegetarian Day everyone!

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World Cancer Research Fund. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. Washington, DC: American Institute for Cancer Research; 2007:22-25.