A Beginner’s Guide to Plant Based Diets

By Elena and Lily

Hello we’re back with a collaboration! We want to show how accessible a plant based diet is, and show how easy it can be to switch. Although there are a few challenges, they are easily manageable and we want to show you the benefits largely outweigh. 

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Plant Based Diets

There are many plant based diets out there, each available and catered to certain groups of people’s needs making them very doable. Within vegetarians there are  lacto vegetarians, ovo-lacto vegetarians, ovo vegetarians, and semi-vegetarians. Besides vegetarians there are also vegans, pescetarians, and raw foodists. The options for a more environmentally friendly diet are unending and you might find one of these could be an easy and accessible diet for you.

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is the diet we chose to follow. Vegetarianism is the practice of not eating meat in our diet. It’s pretty straight forward, don’t eat meat, that means no chicken, beef, pork, fish, bacon and every other meat.

Some of you are probably appalled by the idea of not eating your morning bacon but it’s not as hard as you think. Being a vegetarian is pretty straightforward but it also includes avoiding all the hidden products in other foods, although it’s a grey area for vegetarians most, including us, don’t eat gelatin, a substance made from crushed animal bones that are found in a lot of jellies.

Some vegetarians also exclude other animal products, there are many versions of the vegetarian diet, the main three being Lacto Vegetarianism, Ovo-lacto vegetarianism, and Ovo-vegetarianism. 

Lacto-ovo Vegetarianism

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism is what most of us think of when we think of a vegetarian. Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat but they still eat eggs and dairy. Many people go on this diet for health or ethical reasons.

Lacto Vegetarianism

Lacto vegetarianism mix of vegetarianism and veganism that cuts out the eating of meats and eggs but includes dairy. Many people go on this diet for the same environmental and ethical reasons but may continue to incorporate dairy for health reasons or simply the want for ice cream. 

Ovo Vegetarianism

Ovo Vegetarianism is a combination of vegetarianism and veganism that cuts out the eating of meats and dairy products but includes eggs. Many people opt for ovo vegetarianism for ethical reasons and health reasons. It’s common so people who want to be vegans or vegetarians can go on this diet but still get a source of proteins through eggs. 

Semi-Vegetarianism

Semi-Vegetarianism is a form of vegetarianism that only cuts out some types of meat. A lot of people chose this diet for health reasons and most commonly red meat is cut out. It’s a more flexible diet that is very doable and beneficial for the environment and our health.

Veganism

Veganism is a more strict but endlessly beneficial diet in which you avoid all animal products. That means no Meats, eggs, or dairy in your diet. Some vegans even eliminate wearing clothing or owning any items that are made from an animal. Although the restrictions seem huge, there are endless alternatives and benefits to this diet.

Pescetarianism

Pescetarianism is an accessible diet which includes cutting out most meats except for fish and other seafood. This could be a diet for someone who just couldn’t bear to give up their fish or want to cut out heartier meats for health or environmental reasons.

Raw Foodism

Raw Foodism is a diet in which people choose to only eat raw foods. This means unprocessed and uncooked foods. It is not as widely practiced as the others but can be beneficial for health reasons and helps the environment.

Importance of going Plant Based

A plant based diet is very important for a multitude of reasons. For one, it is a lot more environmentally friendly. Meat farms, especially those with cows, contribute to a lot of pollution.

By cutting out meat, you can emit 2.5 times less CO2 emissions. If more people turned to this trend, that would be a lot of pollution that could easily be saved. Furthermore, cows produce a lot of methane, and the more cows we farm, the more pollution that is created.

So many meat farms exist that force cows to reproduce at a higher rate, and by increasing the population of plant based diets, we would also be decreasing the need to force animals to reproduce at unnatural rates. 

If you don’t want to go on a completely plant based diet, you can still cut out some meat to save animal lives. Every year alone, there are over 9 million animals who die to be served at a table.

Depending on the formula you use, a vegetarian can save about 25 lives a year, if you factor in all the variables. That may not be a large number, but if you put all the vegetarians and vegans together, the amount of lives they save can be remarkable. But for the number to be even more remarkable, we need everyone’s help in contributing. You don’t need to go completely vegan, or even completely vegetarian. There’s plenty of other options out there, starting with just cutting down how much meat you do consume.

With all of this being said, if you can’t go vegetarian due to underlying health conditions, we are in no way advocating for you to make the switch. Choose the diet which is healthy for you. If vegetarianism or veganism isn’t for you, we totally understand, but do advocate for you to consider switching towards a more plant based diet, even if that’s just cutting out a little bit of meat.

Why Vegetarian

People go vegetarian for many reasons, some for health reasons, other for environmental or animal cruelty reasons. Each vegetarian has a different answer but here are ours:

Lily – From a young age I always struggled with the ethicality of eating meat. I always hated the idea that what I was consuming was a living, breathing animal not long before. I’ve always been a huge believer in animal rights and every instinct told me eating these poor animals was wrong. I was also never a big fan of the taste of meat except maybe for chicken. So overall going vegetarian was something that always seemed appealing. However, my dad was a chef who served meat regularly and neither of my parents were very supportive of the idea, so i never got to make the switch. As I grew older I looked more into animal cruelty and got lead to discussions of the meat making industry and environmental impacts of it, both of which I found utterly disgusting. As soon as I could fend for myself in 8th grade I decided to make the switch. I went vegetarian, and have proudly upheld my diet for 2 and a half years.; i’ll leave links for more information on animal cruelty, the meat making industry, and environmental impacts below so you can look into more yourself, you can also look out for more in depth analysis of the topics in our future blog posts.

Elena- For as long as I can remember, I always struggled with the rhetoric that eating meat is “natural” and what I should do. I saw meat, and all I could think was that this was something that used to be alive, just like me. I’d argue with my parents on the topic, trying to get them to see how immoral I saw these actions to be, but they pushed back with a common stigmatization of vegetarians and vegans. They told me to either eat the meat, or I’d have to go vegetarian and then I could only eat beans and mushrooms, which at the time I didn’t like, but have since grown to enjoy. I guess telling your 5 year old either meat or beans is an effective way of forcing them to eat meat. As I got older, I still struggled with the morality of eating meat, but I grew to ignore those thoughts, until I was in 7th grade. I learned two other girls at my dance studio were vegetarians as I overheard a conversation the two of them were having. Their conversation helped start my overall transition to vegetarianism, however I didn’t know how to tell my parents I wanted to switch. The tipping point came about a year and a half later, two months before I entered high school. I watched a video on Instagram, which quickly showed the process of how meat ends up on my plate. Thoroughly and rightfully disgusted, I decided no more waiting and made the switch.

Challenges

Although many view a plant based diet as challenging, if they’d give it a go, they would realize it’s a lot easier than it seems. Many vegetarians even forget what meat tastes like as soon as a week in, and there’s a lot more meat alternatives than people realize, many of which are delicious, especially when cooked correctly, but that’s for another article.

One of the main challenges is getting all the nutrients you need, and not sticking only to processed foods. There’s an easy fix to this. Do some research. We can help, feel free to send us an email if you have any questions on how to go plant based and we’d be more than happy to help. We will write more articles dedicated to this topic in the future, so stay tuned!

Thank you for reading today’s article! We really hope you’ve enjoyed it and will stay tuned for the next articles we have coming up. Next Monday, we have a very interesting article written by Lily coming up about transitioning to high school. If you have any questions or any suggestions on articles you want us to write, feel free to email us or send us a message through the contact page!

Checkout our social media pages:

Links:

Environment

https://animalclock.org/

http://www.countinganimals.com/how-many-animals-does-a-vegetarian-save/


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