Plant-based Diet: Peculiarities, Benefits for Health, and Recommendations for Starting Vegetarians
A diet helps biohackers to improve health, keep fit, and maintain well-being. Optimizing the ration, they avoid harmful products and replace them with vegetables and organic food. Many supporters of this movement refuse eating meat products and become vegetarians or veganists.
What benefits does the rejection of meat bring to the body? What is the difference between veganism and vegetarianism? How to shift to a plant-based diet without harming your health? Read in the article below.
Veganism and vegetarianism: peculiarities and differences
Vegetarianism is an approach to nutrition that involves the refusal of animal food. Vegetables are the basis of the ration. At the same time, people that follow this diet can eat eggs and dairy products.
There are three types of vegetarianism:
- ovo-lacto vegetarianism – apart from the plant food, supporters eat dairy products and eggs;
- ovo-vegetarianism – for supporters of this diet, eggs are the only animal product allowed for consumption; besides, they eat plant food;
- lacto-vegetarianism – a type of nutrition that involves the refusal of fish, meat, seafood, and eggs; plant and dairy products are allowed.
Veganism implies that the person eats only plant products and sometimes honey. The ration excludes meat, fish, seafood, eggs, milk, as well as different substances produced with the use of animal products, for example, gelatin or carmine.
For many people, vegetarianism and veganism is not simply a diet but a lifestyle. For this reason, they not only refuse to eat certain products. They do not use clothes and household items produced from animal material, cosmetics and cleaning products tested on animals.
People become vegetarians or veganists for a variety of reasons, which can be of ethical, ecological, economical, medical, or religious nature. Some people decide not to eat meat to keep fit and feel well.
The animal protection organization “Open cages” reports that there were 2 million vegetarians in Ukraine in 2017.
How does the refusal of meat influence health?
The question of what is more useful animal or plant food has been disputed for a long time in society. Much research has been done in this field in different countries. Some research works prove that meat is useful for health, while others state that the consumption of meat encourages the development of different illnesses, and still others signify that plant food helps to improve health and general well-being. Let us review in detail how vegetarianism and veganism influence the human body.
Keeping physically fit
Plant food is low in calories. Therefore, the refusal to eat meat is a good way to reduce the amount of subcutaneous fat and keep fit.
Some people think that the elimination of meat from the ration as a source of protein makes building-up the muscle bulk impossible. In fact, it does not reflect reality. There are different plant products that can serve as an alternative to animal protein. They are seaweed, beans, nuts, seeds, soybeans, buckwheat, quinoa, green vegetables, etc.
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Deficiency of vitamins and nutrients
Refusal to eat meat products can lead to the lack of vitamins and mineral nutrients including amino acids, iron, zinc, calcium, B vitamins, etc.
One can solve the problem of vitamin deficiency by following a balanced diet and taking dietary supplements or vitamin pills.
Reduction of disease development risk
Much research has proven that the refusal to eat meat products and the shift to vegetarian food reduces the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, and other diseases.
Vegetables and fruits contain a big amount of vitamin C. It facilitates the boost of immune system performance and production of collagen, which helps to maintain the skin’s elasticity and to prevent signs of aging. Plant products are rich in substances that have an anti-inflammatory effect, protect DNA against mutations and destruction.
Besides, unlike animal products, plant food does not cause autointoxication but facilitate the detoxification of the body instead.
Improvement of microflora
The research, conducted in 2014, has shown that the gut flora of the omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan differs. Scientists defined that people who totally refuse to eat animal food have more of protective bacteria.
Improvement of digestion
Plant food is rich in cellulose. The latter is dietary fibers, which are digested by the beneficial gut microflora and positively influence the functioning of the body. Among other things, cellulose speeds up metabolism, reduces the cholesterol and blood sugar levels, helps to prevent the development of obesity, oncology, diabetes, diverticulosis, heart diseases.
Boost in energy level and strength
Vegetables, fruits, grain, and beans contain simple and complex carbohydrates, which makes them a good source of energy. Besides, plant food increases strength and productivity.
Refusal to eat meat: how to start the diet?
Not to harm your health by the shift to the plant-based diet, it is important to factor in the following aspects:
- Study your body. Experts recommend that you should do lab tests to define the level of B vitamins, iron, zinc, and calcium before you refuse meat products. If you detect the deficiency of these substances, you should refrain from the total elimination of meat. If you have normal test results, you can shift to vegetarian food. However, do not forget to do tests regularly to control possible changes in the body.
- Correct your ration gradually. No matter what type of vegetarianism you choose, it is important to remember that you should shift to the plant-based diet step by step. Sudden refusal to eat habitual products, for example, meat, eggs, and milk, can negatively influence your health state.
- Take into account the individual characteristics of the body. When you change the diet, pay attention to your body needs and factor in all existing health risks. For example, people with inflammatory bowel and liver diseases can suffer a deficiency of ferments that help to digest coarse cellulose contained in raw vegetables. Therefore, they should eat cooked plant products.
- Be careful when you choose the ration. You have to understand what products it is important to eat to get all the required vitamins and nutrients. For example, veganists may have problems related to the deficiency of calcium. The reason is that they eat products rich in components that deteriorate the absorption of calcium. A correct choice of diet will help you to avoid such consequences. You can find recipes of dishes for veganists and vegetarians on the Internet or in cookbooks of different authors.
- Learn to cook, store, and match products correctly. Vegetables and fruits can lose vitamins during thermal processing, improper storage, or contact with kitchenware. For example, tomatoes, beetroots, broccoli, and sweet pepper lose certain health-giving qualities when you boil or fry them.
Where can vegetarians and veganists eat in Kyiv?
The great demand for vegetarian food has led to the opening of different food outlets in Ukraine, offering customers quality and tasty dishes cooked without animal products. Some cafes, restaurants, and bars have only vegan or vegetarian cuisine, while others have a standalone menu for supporters of plant food. Today there are dozens of such outlets in different cities of the country. Read below where vegetarians and veganists can eat in Kyiv.
Address: 16/108 Semen Petlyura street, 72 Sechevykh Streltsov street.
The outlet offers sandwiches, smoothies, salads, soups, desserts, and drinks. All positions on the menu are cooked without meat, fish, or seafood. The ingredients of dishes include vegetables, tofu, halloumi, soy, seitan, coconut milk, carob, nuts, goji berries, chia seeds, fruits, etc.
Address: 2 Bessarabska square, 26/4 Taras Shevchenko boulevard.
In this café, you can try soup made of broccoli with coconut milk, a burger with soybean steak and tofu, lavash rolls with green pea falafel, bowls, hummus, cheesecake made of tofu, and other vegetarian dishes.
Address: 7 Zhylyanska street.
The outlet is positioned as a literature café with vegetarian cuisine. However, the menu also has dishes for rawatarians and veganists. Among other dishes, guests are offered Indian soup with lentil seeds, rice pakora with cheese sauce, sweet potato and sea-buckthorn cake, mint cashew tart, as well as different sweets, smoothies, and immunostimulating cocktails.
In Ukraine, there are enterprises that produce vegan and vegetarian food on a commercial scale, including Vegetus, Agroprod, Healthy Wealthy, Zelena Korova, bez CAXAPA, VforVegan, and others. Companies have a wide assortment of food products including sausages, cheese, milk, yogurts, ice cream, and chocolate. All these products are made of vegetable stock.
What to watch about the harm of meat and the benefits of plant-based diets?
Today there are many documentary films about peculiarities and advantages of vegetarianism. Here are the three most popular and viral movies.
The game changers
The documentary tells viewers about the benefits of the plant-based diet, its influence on the performance and life of professional sportsmen. Representatives of different sports share their experience of refusing to eat meat, including the Australian sprinter Morgan Mitchell, weight lifter Kendrick Farris, strongman Patrik Baboumian, professional boxer Bryant Jennings, and many others.
Forks over knives
This documentary reveals researches dedicated to the influence of nutrition on health. Authors scientifically explain that consumption of meat and dairy products increases the chances of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, and other diseases to develop.
The documentary focuses on the problem of animal exploitation aimed to produce clothes and food, conduct research and entertainment. Its authors reveal secrets of operation of butcheries, poultry plants, pet shelters.
Although biohackers are supporters of healthy nutrition, not all of them refuse to eat meat.