What is a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet is a form of nutrition in which the consumption of fish, meat and poultry products is completely avoided. The term vegetarian is derived from the English word for vegetable – vegetable. Vegetarians are divided into different categories.
Ovo-lacto-vegetarians – like all vegetarians – do without fish, meat and poultry, but continue to consume milk and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat eggs, ovo-vegetarians do not consume dairy products, but continue to eat eggs. Vegans do not eat any animal products. The vegan diet is therefore considered a subcategory of the vegetarian diet. In this article the term vegetarian diet always includes the vegan diet unless explicitly described otherwise.
Advantages of the vegetarian diet
Many people choose a vegetarian diet for ethical or ecological reasons or pursue the goal of eating healthier and more sustainably. Implementing these intentions can thus lead to a positive self-esteem and a better body image. It is well known and proven by studies that a diet that avoids animal fats reduces the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
For example, studies have shown that people who follow a vegetarian diet have lower blood fat values, have lower blood pressure on average and have a lower BMI (body mass index) on average than people who eat meat regularly. The reduction of blood fats, blood pressure and BMI in turn lowers the risk of developing secondary diseases such as heart attack, diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure. The risk of some types of cancer also appears to be lower with a vegetarian diet. Overall, however, it must be noted that people who follow a vegetarian diet are usually much more health-conscious, for example, they regularly exercise and consume less alcohol and nicotine than non-vegetarians. These different lifestyle factors also play a role in reducing the cardiovascular risk, so that the described risk reduction is probably not only due to a vegetarian diet.