Guest Author - Melissa Weise
So letís cut to the chase. What the heck is a vegan anyway? And how is it different than a vegetarian? And donít even get me started on ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarianism. Itís enough to make your eyes cross just reading it, right?
Actually, itís not that complicated. Letís start where most people understand. Vegetarians. They are the people who donít eat meat. Either for health, humanitarian, environmental, or preference reason, they donít eat meat. A vegetarian diet has been lauded as very healthy. It is low in fat and cholesterol and thatís a good thing. And if you love animals, it is a good way to show it. No killing allowed. And some people become vegetarians because they have learned about the living conditions of animals that are used as food which are often cramped and unhealthy. Many animals that are eaten never see the light of day. Finally, some people choose to be vegetarians because it is more environmentally friendly. Basically, it costs less to raise a tomato than feed a cow for several years.
The downside of being a vegetarian is that you have to be very careful about what you eat. It is not just about avoiding meat. It is about making sure that you are getting enough nutrition. Many vegetarians can be low in B-complex which is an incredibly important vitamin that is high in meat but low in vegetables. So taking a vitamin supplement can be imperative. And vegetarians have to be more conscious about making sure they get enough protein which comes mostly from meat in a mainstream diet. For vegetarians, it may come from eating certain combinations of vegetables and grains, eggs, milk, and milk products.
And thatís where we come to vegans. Vegans only eat fruits, vegetables, and grains. No meat and no animals products like eggs and milk. Vegans often believe that taking these things from animals is wrong and that human beings were made to eat only things that are plant-based. They do seem to have a point. After all, we arenít baby cows, right? So why do we drink milk?
On the other hand, it is even more complicated for vegans to make sure they get enough protein. There are very important vegetable combinations that they need to follow such as corn and beans or nuts and wheat to get the proper daily dosage.
Now, finally, the ovo-lacto-pesca vegetarians are another category that are sometimes not called vegetarians because they eat not only eggs (ovo in Latin) and milk (lacto) but fish (pesca) and fish is a form of animal. On the other hand, it is much easier for them to get enough protein and other nutrients without being as careful about what they eat.
Thatís why it is important to read about nutrition before making the choice to become either a vegetarian or especially a vegan.