Monday, January 27, 2014

Learn the Language of Meatless Monday

Happy New Year and new semester! As many people are striving to achieve New Year's resolutions and once again creating new habits to start the semester off on the right foot, we encourage you to start the new year by turning over a new leaf for...Meatless Monday...see what we did there ;)

But before we jump into the deep end with facts, figures, recipes and advice, let's take a step back and start with some of the basics. For those of you who are new to Meatless Monday, or meat-free eating in general, there is a lot of information and terms that you may be unfamiliar with. There are many different types of vegetarian diets that you can follow within the range of vegetarianism/veganism. And each has its own set of "rules" and origins. It's almost like learning another language. So, in this blog we will break it down for you, and explain all the lingo so you can be Meatless Monday bilingual!

Let's start off with different types of vegetarian diets. There are many kinds to choose from depending on what kind of nutrients your body needs, or your eating preferences. Read on below to see which one appeals most to you.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians: This terms stems from the Latin lac, which means milk and ovum, which means egg. So a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian is someone who does not eat any type of meat (pork, red meat, poultry), or fish but, does eat both dairy products and eggs. This type of diet is one that has been traditionally followed by those who practice the religion Hinduism. It is also a great diet to follow for those people who would like to cut of meat from their diet but still want/need to maintain a higher level of protein or calcium that would be provided by eating diary and eggs.

-Lacto-Vegetarians: Based on the definition above, this diet is comprised of not eating meat or fish, or eggs, but still eating dairy products.
-Ovo-Vegetarians: Those that follow this diet consume eggs, but not meat, fish, or dairy products.

Pesco-Vegetarians: This term is a relatively new and is derived from combining the Italian roots for pesce, meaning fish, and the English word, vegetarian. This type of diet does not include any type of meat product (pork, red meat or poultry), but does include fish (found in the name), dairy and egg products. Those who want to increase their intake of omega-three fatty acids essential for brain functions, and need more protein, should consider this diet.

Pollo-Vegetarins: Pollo, which is translates to chicken in Spanish explains that those who follow this diet do not eat red meat, but do eat poultry, dairy and eggs products. People with high cholesterol should consider this diet because it still has protein from leaner, and more hearty healthy poultry meats, and excludes more fatty, choleric red meats.

Flexitarians: This diet is indorsed by Meatless Monday! :) This is the diet that we are speaking to when we are discussing Meatless Monday. It is also more flexible (as the name implies) and easy to personalize. The flexitarian diet allows followers to eat all meats, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs, but in moderation. In particular, the diet stresses limited meat consumption. For those who are a fan of Meatless Monday, this is a great diet to consider. It allows you to indulge, but in a more conscious and moderate. Like cut out meat on Monday for Meatless Monday and eat moderately throughout the rest of the week. This is a relatively new term and diet, but is quickly picking up a large following. As a fellow meat lover, and environmentalist, being flexitarian really works for me.

Vegans: This diet cuts out all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and diary, but includes an all you can eat buffet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, and legumes. This is the best diet if you want to limit the environmental impact of your food as much as possible. It is also a great diet for those that are concerned with animal rights and welfare.

* Fruits Vegetables Nuts/Seeds Legumes Eggs Dairy Products Fish Poultry Red Meat
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian   X        X        X
Pesco-Vegetarians   X        X        X
Pollo-Vegetarians   X        ✔        X
Flexitarians   ✔        ✔        ✔
Vegans X X   X        X        X

* (Here is a quick visual recap of the information above about each diet)

With so many options, it's hard to pick which one is right for you! One of the best pieces of advice I have received is to listen to your body. Your diet is a complex, and diverse choice that is determined by many factors from personal, to religious, to cultural beliefs. But, most importantly, its your own personal choice because it is YOUR diet, and YOUR body. It is important to not feel pressured by outside factors like the media, or other peers that don't know what is right for your body. You know your body best (it's yours after all), so be sure to listen to it and give it what it needs to function at its best!

With that being said, it is also important to make healthy decisions that will support your body as well. For example, I know as an environmentalist that meat has a very large environmental impact. But, I also know my body performs at its best when it has lean protein. So, as a comprise, I eat a limited amount of meat (twice a week) and try to make sure that meat is a local and humane as possible. If you need more calcium or protein, make sure to give your body what it needs!

So try something new this Monday (maybe adapting the "Flex Style"), but always keeping in mind what works best for you! 

Your Fellow Flexetarian,

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