Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Right for You? — LifeChef
Everything You Need to Know about Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
Cutting down on meat and overall animal product consumption is gaining rapid popularity and there are many ways to go about it. If you are curious about what it looks like to cut down on animal products or to cut them out completely, we will help you to navigate what might be a good fit for you.
This article will look at the similarities and differences between veganism and vegetarianism, their benefits, and the risks and considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing to follow one of them.
What is the vegetarian diet?
When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that doesn’t include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude. Here are just some examples of variations of the vegetarian diet:
- Lacto-vegetarian – avoids meat, seafood, poultry and eggs, as well as items containing them. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter are still included.
- Ovo-vegetarian – avoids meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allows eggs.
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarian – avoids meat, seafood and poultry, but allows dairy products and eggs.
As you can see, the vegetarian diet allows for some flexibility, depending on your unique needs and preferences. The overarching rule, however, is the exclusion of meat, seafood, and poultry. LifeChef offers options for each of these types of vegetarian eaters.
Vegetarianism is commonly practiced for religious or personal reasons, as well as ethical reasons such as animal rights.
What is the vegan diet?
Veganism is a way of life that aims to eliminate all types of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing, or any other reason. As a result, the vegan diet excludes all animal products including meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy and any items containing these products.
Just as with vegetarianism, there are variations to the vegan diet, some of which include:
- Raw-food vegan – This diet is based on eating raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, or plants that are cooked at a temperature below 118°F (48°C).
- Junk food vegan – This diet lacks whole plant foods and relies heavily on meat and cheese substitutes, vegan desserts, and heavily processed vegan foods. It is not a balanced, healthy way of eating.
- Whole food vegan -This diet is based on a large variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Life Chef vegan diet supports a whole food, balanced vegan style of eating.
Veganism is often considered to be about more than just what you eat. It’s a lifestyle that promotes excluding the use of animal products, whether for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.
What you can and can’t eat on a vegan diet
When considering cutting down on animal products, you might come across the option of a Plant-Based diet. A plant-based diet is one that focuses on eating a majority of foods coming from plants, but still includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy in the diet on occasion. Whether you are looking to gain potential health benefits or are just curious about plant based meals, this option provides more flexibility to enjoy a variety of foods from both plants and animals.
The name describes it perfectly, you are primarily eating a plant-based diet but keep the flexibility to choose meat, seafood and animal products. The goal is to gain the benefits of vegetarian-style eating while not completely restricting yourself from animal products. Plant-based meals can range anywhere from 6 meals a week to 15+ meals a week (out of 21), depending on where you are starting from and your individual needs and preferences. Some people start with meatless Mondays and experiment from there!
What does a balanced plant focused diet look like?
For both the vegan and vegetarian diets, it is important to focus on whole foods and aim for balanced meals containing protein, healthy fat, vegetables, and whole grains to promote optimal health.
Protein foods should be included at every meal in order to promote optimal energy levels, satiety, stable blood sugars, and even helps to boost your mood! Plant proteins include lentils, beans, chickpeas, mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, edamame, peas, quinoa and wild rice. If you are including some animal products you can add eggs, fish and cheese for protein as well.
At LifeChef, the healthy fats we include in meals are often olive oil and coconut milk and are essential for promoting satiety, healthy hormone levels, and decreased anxiety levels. You can also top with avocado if you’d like!
Sides should include at least one non-starchy vegetable, such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans or asparagus, and can include whole grains and complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, root vegetables, brown rice, and winter squash. The fiber in the vegetables and whole grains support feeling full and energized and promote gut health, digestion, and mood.
As with most diets, a healthy balance of all the food groups is encouraged!
Benefits of balanced vegan and vegetarian diets
There are numerous potential benefits to adopting a healthy vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, some of which include:
- Aiding in weight loss
- Reducing risk of cancer
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Improving blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improving kidney function
There is plenty of research that points to veganism and vegetarianism as being great diet options for those seeking to live a healthier life. It is important to note, however, that that research is purely observational, and you should always consult your primary care doctor or a registered dietitian before making a big lifestyle change. Your doctor or nutritionist will be able to guide you in making a decision that is right for you.
Risks and considerations
These diets, especially the vegan diet, can be fairly restrictive and may cut out many sources of vitamin B12, choline, omega-3, and calcium. It is important to include a variety of foods with these nutrients in your diet such as mushrooms, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, lentils, beans, soybeans, and leafy greens. Even if included, it may not lead to adequate levels, and vegans are often advised to add multiple supplements such as omega 3, vitamin B12, and choline. Speak with your doctor about your individual needs.
Another obstacle with these diets is the possibility of relying too heavily on processed foods which can be high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium, which can lead to more detrimental effects. Don’t forget to read labels for ingredients you recognize in order to avoid highly processed foods. Some vegetarians and vegans may not eat enough plant proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, thus missing out on the nutrients that these foods provide. While LifeChef meals are healthy options, it is important to be aware of this pitfall when planning your other meals and snacks.
What LifeChef offers for vegans and vegetarians
Whether you are just curious about plant-based eating or you are dedicated to plant-only eating, you can customize your choices to fit your needs.
Here at LifeChef, we design, prepare, and deliver mouth-watering meals straight to your door. We know the struggle of signing up for a meal kit delivery and getting randomly selected meals sent to you. That will never be the case with LifeChef. We prioritize customization and only send you meals that you’ve selected and are sure to love!
With over 5,000 meal combinations, you’ll have plenty of variety in every dish. All you have to do is select your main and your 2 favorite sides and let us take care of the cooking for you!
All of our meals are non-GMO, preservative-free, and organic when possible to ensure that only the highest quality of ingredients is being used for every meal.
Select 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 or 18 of your custom-made meals, and we will deliver them at a time that is convenient for you so that you can spend less time stressing about cooking and more time with your loved ones.
To start exploring our Vegan options. For Vegetarian.
Can you get all the nutrients from a vegan diet?
When done right, vegan and vegetarian diets can bring a number of health benefits, including reduced body weight, lower cholesterol levels, and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. They can improve your overall health and start you on a journey towards your personal health goals.
As with any diet, however, the benefits will begin to appear only if you remain consistent and dedicated to building your diet around plant-based meals.
To start exploring LifeChef as a way of getting delicious and nutritious meals right to your door, click here.