We all seem to love labels: vegetarian, strict vegetarian, vegan-and now, flexitarian. What do these terms mean, and how can you successfully transition from one lifestyle to the next? Here are some definitions and tips on eliminating foods based on animal products from your life.
We all seem to love labels: vegetarian, strict vegetarian, vegan–and now, flexitarian. What do these terms mean, and how can you successfully transition from one lifestyle to the next? Here are some definitions and tips on eliminating foods based on animal products from your life.
A vegetarian does not eat animal flesh but does eat other products that come from animals, such as eggs, dairy, and honey. The term vegetarian refers solely to a person’s diet.
A strict vegetarian is an exclusively dietary term given to those who do not eat animal flesh or other animal products. However, a strict vegetarian may wear clothing made from animal origins (such as leather).
Vegan, on the other hand, is a more broad-reaching term that traditionally does not refer exclusively to diet. Vegans will not eat animal flesh or any products that come from animals, nor do they wear animal-origin clothing such as fur, leather, and, in some cases, silk.
A flexitarian still eats meat but is making a conscious decision to consume less, often with the implied ultimate goal of eliminating it completely.
One Step at a Time
The most common transition these days is the one from flexitarian to vegetarian. This is a positive step, but the greatest pitfall with this transition is the increased consumption of dairy products. A sharp rise in cheese eating in particular is common. Since it is filling and familiar, new vegetarians typically gravitate to cheese to fill the meatless void.
The transition from vegetarian to strict vegetarian is also on the rise. This is an excellent step toward improving health and vitality. For many strict vegetarians, the elimination of dairy products will also put an end to sensitivities that can lead to gas, bloating, skin problems, and general fatigue. At first, however, it will almost certainly leave the new strict vegetarian hungry and bewildered about what to eat, especially if cheese was previously a staple.
Finding the Right Foods
I’ve gone through both of these steps and found that nutrient-rich whole foods that contain fibre, complete protein, and essential fatty acids are the key to a successful transition and lasting results. Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet rich in raw and alkaline foods such as vegetables (and salads in particular) will provide you with adequate daily calcium. Finding recipes for and experimenting with less common yet highly nutritious foods, such as wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat (gluten-free), is also an excellent beginning.
You can easily ensure that you’re incorporating health-boosting nutrients into your diet with a blender drink. Simply blend core ingredients with fruit. Hemp, rice, or pea protein, flax, Salba, and green-food concentrates (such as chlorella, wheatgrass, kale, and barley grass) are examples of the kinds of core ingredients I’m talking about. This type of smoothie will pack plenty of nutrition into your diet and more than compensate for the elimination of animal products.
Even for you flexitarians and straight-up carnivores, a nutritious fruit smoothie each day will energize you and help you get though your day without fatigue or hunger.