Veganism Vs. Vegetarianism: Which One Is Best For You?

Cons:

  • Possible deficiency in essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins D and B12, iron, calcium and zinc
  • Meal choices may seem limited at first
  • Difficulty dining out with family and friends who aren’t vegan or vegetarian
  • Requires a lot of discipline, which can also be a pro

“Some individuals may become vegetarian overnight, while others may gradually remove meat [from] their diet all at once, but either way has a great impact on your health,” explains Angela Ginn, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Baltimore, Maryland. “When choosing to become a vegetarian, [you must first] decide what type works best for your lifestyle. There are 4 different types: Vegan, lactovegetarian, lacto-ovovegetarian and flexitarian. A lacto-ovovegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry and fish but includes eggs and dairy products. Most vegetarians in the U.S. fall into this category.”

A lactovegetarian diet includes dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt but excludes eggs, whereas a flexitarian diet is plant-based with the occasional consumption of meat and a great way to ease into the vegetarian lifestyle. Worried about not getting enough vitamins and nutrients?

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“[A lot of the essential] nutrients can be found in food or fortified in vegetarian products,” Ginn says. “The key to a healthy vegetarian lifestyle is to eat a wide variety of foods to include vegetables, fruit, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.”

The bottom line: Despite the benefits, a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle isn’t for everybody so talk with your doctor to see if adopting a plant-based diet is right for you.

 

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