You probably know what it means to be a vegetarian. It is even possible that you know many of them, or you are even yourself.
Or are you kicking an even higher league and minting veganism?
Whether you prefer meat or vegetables, we should not miss basic information about any type of diet.
How then can we say that another way is not right? So let’s take a look at what vegetarianism and veganism entail.
Ecology and carbon footprint
Did you know that cows have a bad impact on the environment? It sounds strange, but the numbers don’t lie.
In beef production, up to 60 kg of emissions, ie harmful gases released into the air, per kilogram of raw material are reported.
Furthermore, it is a little over 20 kg for lamb.
The table ends with nuts, which produce about 0.3 kg of gas from agricultural activities.
However, they are balancing their contribution to the ecological catastrophe thanks to the treetops, which absorb carbon and thus improve the air.
Emissions, especially methane and carbon dioxide, demonstrably worsen the environment, and their excessive production significantly affects global warming and related activities.
This worsens the overall global situation and deepens the burden on the environment.
Several effects of food production are included in the emission numbers.
These are fumes from biomass and fertilizers, gases released by breeding and fattening, the use of energy and water in processing, transport, retail processes and also the production of packaging materials.
However, it is not advisable to throw all the blame only on the cows, because we would not need so many of them if we did not want to eat them.
It is therefore necessary to realize that the blame falls primarily on our consumer society.
Being a vegetarian, a vegan, or at least partially reducing this whole colossus of meat consumption, therefore, may not be to the detriment of us or our descendants.
How to reduce your carbon footprint?
It all depends on how often we consume meat and what vegetable raw material we decide to replace.
For example, such an avocado, which is a controversial crop due to long-distance transport, leaves up to seven times less carbon footprint than a portion of chicken!
We generally recommend eating as many local and seasonal products as possible.
What is vegetarianism?
It will certainly not surprise you that vegetarians refuse to eat meat mainly because they want to limit the killing of living creatures for excessive human consumption.
However, this is just one of the reasons why many people are currently motivated to reduce their meat intake.
Another reason is the just mentioned ecological impact on the planet.
If you adjust your diet and deny yourself meat, you will significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
Producing meat on our table is not just about killing animals, but also about ethics and global responsibility.
The so-called Lactovegetarian diet with fish intake is probably the most common type of such diet ever.
It represents vegetarianism, in which one accepts both lactose and eggs (ie animal products) and restricts only meat products with the exception of fish meat.
What is veganism?
Veganism goes a little further than vegetarianism, because vegans refuse to consume all animal products, including milk, eggs or honey.
However, the vegan menu is still incredibly rich and varied! It is based on fruits and vegetables, cereals, nuts and seeds.
Protein replaces legumes or mushrooms.
Individual foods thus provide a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
However, this diet does not suit everyone, and if your body needs an increased dose of some nutrients, it is possible to expand the diet with dietary supplements of plant origin.
What does such eating bring?
However, omitting meat from the diet is not just about what we have to deny.
Although it may not seem so at first glance, a purely plant-based diet benefits our body.
It lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It also has preventive effects on colon or breast cancer.
For example, such dried fruits and seeds contain vegetable fats full of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make and it is therefore necessary to eat them.
Fiber in legumes or cereals promotes defecation.
Proteins, which are best obtained from meat and other animal products, should also be kept in mind, but if meat is heavily industrially processed, its nutritional value drops below the level of plant proteins and nutrients.
At least the rare exchange of meat loaf for a light pasta salad with nuts, a piece of tofu and fresh vegetables will benefit not only vegans, but also first-class carnivores.
There are also so-called “true vegans” whose efforts do not end only on the plate.
True vegans also avoid leather or feather products, cosmetics tested on animals or even silk.
The reason to embark on this journey may be habit, health, ecological thinking and in some cases even religion.
What do vegetarians and vegans actually eat?
Which ingredients should not be missing in the basket of every good vegetarian or vegan?
Probably the most famous raw material is tofu. It is made by coagulating soy milk.
Soy is also used to produce so-called soy meat, which is produced by dehydrating soy protein. It contains a lot of protein, but a minimum of fat and no gluten.
However, if you manage gluten, you can try seitan, otherwise known as gluten meat. It is made from wheat gluten.
Various vegetable milks, of which there are huge quantities on the market, serve as a substitute for animal milk.
The most famous are soy, almond, coconut or rice. If you want to surprise your taste buds, try quinoi or hemp milk, for example.
How to make such almond milk at home? We have already written about that.
Other components of the food are the already mentioned fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts or cereals.
However, these ingredients should definitely not be missing from the diet of the most ardent carnivore!
If one does not want to give up meat or cannot give up, there is also so-called flexible vegetarianism or flexitarianism.
What to watch out for?
A well-built vegetarian and vegan diet is rich in antioxidants, carbohydrates, fiber and minerals.
What is missing, on the other hand, are unsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol or proteins.
Vegetarians and vegans may also be deficient in vitamin B12, iron, selenium or calcium.
However, the lactovegetarian diet is not generally considered harmful to marginalized groups, whether they are diabetics, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or children themselves.
Different nutrients can be replaced by other ingredients, but it is certainly true that if you are considering a change in diet, it is advisable to first carefully study the composition of the individual ingredients of your old diet. What you will lack, what you will avoid thanks to the change and how exactly you will replace the missing nutrients.
It is necessary to take care of your diet and body.
Monitoring “nutritional values and nutrient content in the food we consume every day should certainly not be avoided even by” omnivores “.
This is one of the important advantages of vegetarianism or veganism.
They, unlike omnivores, often devote their time and energy to choosing the right raw materials and non-traditional connections.
They are thinking about keeping their diet balanced and varied.
How to increase protein intake?
If it does not consume meat or its products, we need to increase protein intake from other sources.
Vegetable proteins or other vegan, protein-induced products are a suitable way to do this. There is pumpkin, peanut or rice, for example.
It is a bit different with vegetable protein than with animal protein, in the first place it does not reach the same amount of protein as animal protein, but on the other hand it is better digestible, does not cause a feeling of overcrowding and easily blends in with your food.
You can also consume protein through cakes or pies, where it will also represent the texture of classic flour. But they are also suitable for thickening sauces or classic smoothies and shakes.
It is necessary to emphasize the need to think about the diet as a whole.
Everyone should monitor their overall income according to how physically active they are, whether they have any allergies or intolerances, and what other health complications they have.
It is also not advisable to underestimate the body’s signals. Lack of animal protein can cause health problems for some individuals.
We always recommend consulting a nutritionist and taking an active interest in your diet.