Vegetarians or Vegetarianism: Means, Diet, Vitamins and Nutrients, myths

What does "vegetarianism" mean: Ever wondered who a vegetarian is? Most people really have no idea who vegetarians are and what vegetarianism is.

Vegetarianism is a natural human diet. In society, the word "diet" is perceived as something temporary, for example, "diet to lose weight" or "diet for health." In fact, the word "diet" comes from ancient Greek. δίαιτα ('way of life, way of life') and does not imply temporary measures in order to achieve any result. Vegetarianism implies the use of healthy, specific food, characteristic of a person, life in harmony with nature, that is, refusal to use slaughter food, atypical for him, as well as concern for the environment. Natural plant food for humans is preferable and healthy, and the proof of this is the huge number of vegetarians around the world.

There are many types of vegetarianism, one thing unites them - the rejection of animal products:

  • lacto-ovo-vegetarianism: milk, butter, cheese and eggs are used for food, meat is not consumed;
  • ovo-vegetarianism: eggs are used, meat and dairy products are excluded;
  • sand vegetarians consume only fish;
  • Veganism: animal products are not used at all;
  • fruitarianism: only fruits are eaten;
  • raw food diet: only fresh, not thermally processed products of plant origin.


Vegetarians or Vegetarianism: Means, Diet, Vitamins and Nutrients, myths

Why people become vegetarians

People for a variety of reasons come to understand that a natural, plant-based diet is the best choice.

In the XX-XXI centuries such a situation has developed that people for the most part began to switch to vegetarian food because of health concerns. A proper vegetarian diet can prevent the appearance of various diseases and even completely cure the already manifested ailments. However, until the 19th century, people did not consume food of animal origin due to moral and ethical reasons. At the beginning of the 19th century, the desire to improve health intensified. Combined with advances in science, a physiological rationale for the benefits of vegetarianism began to form. The rationale for the nutritional superiority of a plant-based diet was nevertheless shaped by moral convictions that gave the founders of vegetarianism in the United States, Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg, the status of "diet fanatics." Only with the expansion of scientific knowledge in the field of nutrition,

A diet high in grains, vegetables and fruits has been shown to lower cholesterol and fat levels, which are very beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Such a healthy diet is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, and this is beneficial for overall health.

Interesting fact: the first health insurance company appeared in the United States that provides a discount on its services to vegetarians and vegans. The company's management relies on scientific data obtained by scientists around the world.

The beneficial effect of a vegetarian diet is that it is low in saturated and unsaturated fat, but high in vitamins and minerals.


Research has established the following positive facts about a complete vegetarian diet:

  • the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) in vegetarians is 63% lower than in meat eaters1;
  • vegans have 15% fewer incidences of all cancers, 34% lower risk of cancer in women, and 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer2;
  • 49% lower risk of developing type II diabetes compared to non-vegetarians3;
  • according to the journal of the Alzheimer's Association, a diet that includes leafy green vegetables, fiber, fruits and berries reduces the incidence of Alzheimer's by 53%, especially in those who are predisposed to it4;
  • the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in vegans is 9% lower compared to meat eaters5.

Another reason to become a vegetarian is to care for the environment and be compassionate for animals, and not to be violent. Every year more than 56 billion (!) Land animals and approximately 90 billion marine animals are killed by humans. More than 3,000 living things die every second in slaughterhouses around the world.

Perhaps the reader will have a question: “How is vegetarianism related to the environment? And how does the transition to this type of diet affect the change in the environment? " By switching to natural species-based, healthy, plant-based nutrition, which is more suitable for humans, we directly have a positive impact on the ecology of the planet, since we no longer support the industry that destroys it. Namely:

  • 80% of the total greenhouse gases of the entire agricultural sector are generated by livestock6;
  • 35–40% of methane is emitted as a result of fermentation (a feature of cattle digestion) and from manure;
  • 65% of nitric oxide and 64% of ammonia are emitted from the use of artificial fertilizers when growing feed.

Livestock and related industries produce 18% of total carbon dioxide, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Commission. This is more than the exhaust emissions of all vehicles on the planet (14%)7!

But more importantly, when fuel is burned, carbon dioxide is mainly generated, and a by-product of animal husbandry is methane.

Methane is 28 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, since it absorbs solar radiation much more actively and creates a greater greenhouse effect. One cow per day emits approximately 500 liters of methane per day, which is equivalent to the exhaust of a medium-sized car that has driven 70 kilometers per day.

In different countries, on average, at least 50% of all arable land is used for growing livestock feed. To get 1 kg of meat, you need to spend 6-15 kg of grain and 10-15 thousand liters of fresh water. Think about these figures: this is the amount of water consumed on average per day by residents of a nine-story building!

Vegetarians or Vegetarianism: Means, Diet, Vitamins and Nutrients, myths

What is included in the diet of vegetarians

Many have heard of vegetarians and probably know that a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat.

And here, many people have a certain stereotype or pattern in their minds that vegetarians eat exclusively green grass, cabbage and carrots. In fact, a vegetarian diet includes many plant-based foods: cereals, seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

The diet is based on fresh fruits and vegetables. It is desirable that there are at least 50% of the total number of products. Everyone knows that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables has a beneficial effect on physical health. It turns out that food also affects the psycho-emotional state. This fact was established based on the results of a study conducted in the UK in 2010–2011. among 13983 people.

People who adhere to a regular diet practically do not think about what they eat, mistakenly believing that everything they need is contained in meat products. It is a great misconception to believe that meat is capable of fully supplying the body with everything vital. If this were true, then a person could live by eating only meat. Yes, it contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, but this is just the “tip of the iceberg”. It is important to remember that meat is a very toxic product and in its composition contains a large proportion of uric acid, hormones formed in huge quantities in a state of fear and horror that animals experience before death. Also, animals have to eat a lot of plant foods that are processed with chemicals. Perhaps you will object - they say that eating plants is also harmful precisely because of the chemicals - but the fact is, that the concentration of harmful substances in plants is much lower than in meat products. By the way, this is one of the reasons why, after eating meat dishes, there is a state of drowsiness, inertia, and laziness. The body is forced to throw all its energy into neutralizing poisons from food. Such a state of gravity is mistaken for satiety. Perhaps you have noticed this in yourself?

Vegetarianism is a more deliberate approach in many things. Moving on to this type of nutrition, the first question that a person asks himself is - where to get proteins, essential trace elements and vitamins?


The correct selection of herbal products fully covers the body's needs for nutrients:

  • a large amount of protein is found in legumes, grains and nuts;
  • red, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables contain carotene (vitamin A);
  • Most fruits and vegetables, nuts, herbs and grains contain iron;
  • legumes (lentils, beans), pumpkin, seeds, carrots, nuts, celery, and cauliflower contain phosphorus;
  • buckwheat, wheat germ, bran contain B vitamins.


Vegetarians or Vegetarianism: Means, Diet, Vitamins and Nutrients, myths

Vitamins and nutrients in plant foods

Let's take a closer look at what important nutrients plant foods contain.

  • Iron. We need oxygen to live. The body cannot use it without iron, which, in turn, is an important part
  • hemoglobin - red blood cells that carry oxygen. Vegetarians get the iron they need from red beans, chickpeas, jacket baked potatoes, dried fruits (raisins, dried apricots, prunes), whole grains (wheat, oats), and green vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage.
  • Vitamin C. Found in many fruits and vegetables, it improves iron absorption, while calcium (from milk and dairy products) can have the opposite effect.
  • Calcium. Participates in the formation of bones and teeth. Found in milk, cheese and yogurt. Vegetarians who don't consume dairy get their calcium from green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin D. Helps calcium penetrate into bones. This vitamin is synthesized by the body when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, whether you adhere to a vegetarian diet or not, it is important to take walks in the fresh air, to be in the sun more often.
  • Zinc. The human body is made up of tiny cells that we cannot see. Zinc helps these cells grow and is also involved in the healing of cuts and scrapes, and is vital for the immune system to function. Zinc is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), grains, and nuts.
  • Protein. An important part of any cell in the body. Protein is needed for the growth of bones, muscles and organs. Like iron, they are an important part of hemoglobin. Vegetarians get their protein from a variety of plant sources, such as nuts, tofu, beans, seeds, grains, cereals, vegetables, soy milk. Eggs and milk are a source of protein for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Vegetarian cuisine is rich in a variety of dishes. An important feature is that such dishes are very tasty, hearty and easy to digest, as well as very healthy. A well-planned vegetarian diet provides the human body with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

As we have already found out, the diet of vegetarians includes products that can be found in almost any store or market, so we can confidently say that such a natural, healthy diet is available to everyone. The matter remains small: just try vegetarian dishes and start eating only plant foods one or several days a week, gradually abandoning harmful animal products and replacing them with useful plant foods.


Growing popularity of vegetarianism in the world

Studies show that the growth in vegetarians in the United States alone was 5% in three years - from 1% in 2014 to 6% in 2017. In Germany, 44% of the population follows a low meat diet, up from 26% in 20148.

People around the world are beginning to understand that eating meat is not only harmful to human health, but also negatively affects the ecology of the planet. We are getting closer and closer to the event predicted in 2016 by the head of Google subsidiary Eric Schmidt, namely, the "plant revolution". Global searches for veganism have grown by 242% over the past three years. And in the UK, search growth was 90% between 2015 and 2016!

Every year, specialized health food stores are gaining more and more popularity. There is growth in this area not only in the field of online commerce, but more and more stores are opening in different cities in Russia and around the world. Vegetarian cafes offer dishes that completely dispel myths that such cuisine is poor and tasteless. The variety of the menu will not only surprise the most fastidious meat-eaters, but also satisfy the gourmet's taste. Don't believe me? Visit one of the vegetarian establishments and see firsthand. Moreover, these dishes are very satisfying!

The number of vegetarian and vegan shops, cafes and restaurants is increasing from year to year, according to the international portal

  • in December 2017, 81 establishments were registered in Moscow, and in January 2019 there were already 100, an increase of 23.5%9;
  • in Warsaw it was 116 (2017), it is 143 (2019), the growth is 23.3%10;
  • in Washington was 280 (2017), became 532 (2019), growth is 90%11 ; - and this is only according to the data of one information site.

In the modern world, veganism and vegetarianism occupy a strong position, which is proved by the large number of supporters of this type of diet. The statistics of vegetarians in the world has more than a billion people.


Vegetarianism is expensive! Is it really

One often hears that being a vegetarian is expensive. When the financial situation is not at its best, it might seem like a cheap burger or chicken is probably a good option: lots of calories for a low price. We are persistently instilled in the idea that healthy eating is expensive and available only to wealthy people. Sounds intimidating, right?

It doesn't seem like meat should be cheaper than fresh vegetables and fruits.

If you study the topic of healthy eating, you will realize that the true cost of food of animal origin is higher than you might imagine. And vegetarianism is not only healthier by all measures, but it can be significantly cheaper. In fact, many of the basic ingredients of a vegetarian diet are very inexpensive and can be found in any grocery supermarket, not just specialty stores or markets. Whole grains like rice or barley, legumes like beans, chickpeas, lentils, or peas are inexpensive, especially when compared to processed and packaged foods. If you buy cereals in large packages, then the price per kilogram will be even less. The big benefit of whole grains is that they do not contain dangerous saturated fat and animal protein, instead they are rich in fiber, which is a guarantee that that you will be full and satisfied. Therefore, add them to soups, salads, side dishes and other dishes.

Beans, cereals and vegetables are the staple foods of the population around the world. In Mexico and South America, inexpensive rice and beans, along with corn tortillas and avocados, are an integral part of the national cuisine; tofu and vegetables with rice are a common diet in rural China; chickpeas and lentils are included in the daily menu of the people of India. Moreover, the population of these countries is not just healthy, they do not even have many diseases of the "rich countries". Basically, the population that lives on such a simple diet suffers from various infections due to poor environmental conditions. The incidence of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes is so low that it is not comparable with developed countries. There is something to think about!

A healthy, plant-based diet is not only cheaper (unless, of course, you visit specialty stores), but also saves you personally and the community at large. If you think that this is not so, think carefully: after all, everyone knows that it is expensive to get sick! Meat and dairy products clog our bodies with saturated fats, growth hormones and antibiotics - substances that directly cause cancer, heart disease, obesity, and in addition to apathy, laziness, and low mood.

It is much more effective and less painful to prevent all these troubles being a vegetarian: after all, it has long been known that the best remedy for disease is prevention!


Vegetarians or Vegetarianism: Means, Diet, Vitamins and Nutrients, myths

Helpful Tips on How to Save Money as a Vegan or Vegetarian

  1. Buy seasonal products: they are almost always cheaper than other non-seasonal products.
  2. Avoid packaged and prepackaged items: You should not buy washed, cut, packaged fruits and vegetables. They are much more expensive, and you also have to pay for packaging. The usual packaging is plastic bags that harm the planet's ecology, because the time of their decomposition is about a hundred years. If you are for "convenience", then know: you will have to pay more.
  3. Keep track of prices: Local fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper than imported ones.
  4. Fairs and markets. It is worth visiting such places closer to the end of the working day: sellers usually offer discounts so as not to pack the goods and take them home. Markets and fairs are great places to shop for fresh local produce.
  5. Freeze: Don't be afraid to buy frozen vegetables, they are often cheaper than fresh ones. Since vegetables are frozen immediately after harvest, they retain vitamins and nutrients.
  6. Make a menu: Many families use this method because it is very convenient. A list of dishes is formed, and then they are "rotated" every week. This approach simplifies the grocery shopping process and shortens the cooking time. Reasonable menu design helps to save finances.

Going on a vegetarian diet may seem daunting at first, but it's actually very simple. The quality of your life grows: better health, more energy, good mood, longer and happier life.


Vegetarian myths

Vegetarian food is great! A natural question arises: why so few people switch to plant-based nutrition, even if they know how good it is?

There are several reasons that are barriers to a healthy plant-based diet. The main ones are stereotypes, myths and lack of knowledge on this topic. Let's figure it out!

  1. Whole plant food is much more expensive than traditional food. In fact, it turns out that vegetarian food is not only cheaper, but also much more profitable economically, as it prevents many diseases.
  2. "Man is a Predator." In fact, a person by nature is a fruit eater, and the most suitable food is vegetable, primarily fruits and vegetables. Basic physiological data indicate that humans belong to herbivores:
    • the length of the small intestine is 10–11 times greater than the length of the body, while in predators it is only 3–6 times;
    • the teeth cannot break the skin of animals and are intended for chewing rough plant foods, and the incisors are for biting off fruits and fruits;
    • low body temperature, unlike predators, does not allow the human body to digest meat;
    • small stomach volume - 21-27% of the digestive system, in predators - 60-70%.
  3. "Man is omnivorous." From the point of view of physiology, it is possible to eat both plant and meat foods. But at the same time, it is impossible to eat raw meat, since sharper teeth, powerful jaws and a different, more acidic composition of gastric juice are needed. Still, anatomically, humans are much closer to herbivores than omnivores.
  4. “You have to eat meat. A man cannot live without meat. " Modern scientific evidence completely refutes these two claims. But the counter question "Why?" it is seldom possible to hear anything reasonable. There are more than a billion people in the world who do not eat meat and do not experience any restrictions and problems, eating only plant foods. Unfortunately, many people eat meat only because they were taught this way from childhood, and it has become a food habit.
  5. “Our ancestors ate meat. Meat helped to survive the ice age. " Oh, yes, it was ... during the Ice Age! We live in a modern world where there is a huge abundance of plant-based foods that fully satisfy the need for nutrients. There is no need to kill animals and consume their flesh for survival.
  6. "Vegetarians have reduced intellectual function." In fact, the opposite is true, and many famous people are proof of this: Nikola Tesla, Leo Tolstoy, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and many others.
  7. "Vegetarianism is bad for your health." Unfortunately, global statistics say exactly the opposite. Residents of developed countries with a high level of meat consumption are most at risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is due to the high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in meat.
  8. “Vegetarians are weak. A man must eat meat to be strong. " The body of a person who prefers healthy, nutritious vegetarian food has a significantly greater supply of stamina and energy. Immune system resources and energy are not expended in neutralizing animal proteins and toxins. Many famous athletes, as well as Olympic champions, are vegetarians. Patrick Babumyan, the strongest man on the planet and a vegan with many years of experience, set a world record: he carried a weight of 555.2 kg over 10 meters - which no one else could have done before!
  9. “Vegans are smart people who put themselves above others. Vegetarianism is a way to stand out from the crowd. " The stereotype is that supposedly vegetarians and vegans look down on other people. People who eat traditionally feel that they are being pressured in this way. Of course, there are isolated cases of such behavior, but these are rather exceptions. The fact that vegetarians do not eat meat leaves some people feeling guilty and defensive by showing aggression. In fact, vegetarians are quite calm and peaceful people who lead an ordinary social life.
  10. "There is not enough protein in a vegetarian diet." Proteins are made up of amino acids. Plant foods alone do not contain all of the essential amino acids required. The problem is solved by combining legumes and grain products: in this way they complement each other, and the body receives a complete protein. The protein content of many plant foods is significantly higher than that of meat (nuts, legumes, cereals). Plant protein is much easier to digest in the digestive tract and does not contain toxins and hormones.


Why being a vegetarian is good for you

According to many scientific studies, it has been established that a third of all cancers and about 70% of diseases in general are associated with what we eat. A plant-based diet reduces the risk of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, lung, esophagus and stomach.


So why it is worth switching to a healthy plant-based diet:

  1. Health. Vegan and vegetarian diets are healthier than the average "traditional" diet, especially when it comes to preventing and treating cardiovascular disease and reducing the risk of cancer. A complete, low-fat, plant-based diet not only effectively slows down coronary heart disease, it can prevent them completely!
  2. Loss of excess weight. Processed foods high in saturated fat and simple carbohydrates are slowly killing us. Plant foods, on the other hand, are low in fat, high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. All this contributes not only to the full supply of the body with useful substances, but also to its purification.
  3. Long life. Animal products clog arteries, waste energy and keep the immune system under constant strain, which negatively affects life expectancy. Also, eating meat causes cognitive impairment (decreased memory, mental performance) and sexual dysfunction at an early age.
  4. Strong bones. If not enough calcium is supplied to the body, then it is consumed from its own reserves - from teeth and bones. As a result, osteoporosis and caries develop. A large amount of calcium is found in plant foods - legumes and products from them (tofu, soy milk), green vegetables, cabbage, root vegetable tops.
  5. Eases the symptoms of menopause in women. Many plant foods are rich in phytoestrogens, hormones that act like estrogen. Since phytoestrogens can increase and decrease estrogen and progesterone levels, keeping them in balance, menopause is much easier. Soy is one of the record holders for phytoestrogen content. These substances are also found in many other foods - apples, beets, cherries, strawberries, dates, olives, plums, pumpkins. Since menopause is usually associated with a decrease in metabolism and weight gain, a vegetarian diet will come in handy as it is low in fat and high in fiber.
  6. More energy! A large amount of fat clogs our circulatory system, forming so-called "plaques" or blood clots (accumulations of fat that clog blood vessels and interfere with the normal circulation of blood throughout the body). This ultimately leads to diseases such as atherosclerosis, stroke, coronary heart disease. People with such diseases feel fatigue, apathy, and are in a depressed mood. If you regularly experience one of these conditions, be careful, just try to change your diet and observe the changes! A balanced vegetarian diet is free of cholesterol-laden foods. Since whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables are high in complex carbohydrates, the body receives significantly more energy.
  7. No stool problems. By eating a lot of plant foods, we absorb a lot of fiber, which stimulates peristalsis (wave-like contractions) in the intestines. Meat does not contain fiber. Therefore, vegetarians are much less likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (diverticulitis), constipation and hemorrhoids.
  8. You are improving the ecology of the planet. One of the reasons people become vegetarians is knowing how devastating the meat industry is to the environment. Waste from livestock farms is the biggest threat to freshwater. The use of pesticides, fertilizers, artificial irrigation and plowing - all this has a very negative impact on the environmental situation.
  9. You avoid consuming toxic chemicals. In the United States, 95% of pesticides are found in meat, dairy products, and fish. In Russia, unfortunately, such studies, most likely, have not been carried out, information is not available in the public domain. Fish is considered a highly toxic product and is not recommended for pregnant women in the United States, as heavy metals are not destroyed by cooking and freezing. In addition to the fact that milk and meat contain pesticides, hormones, steroids and antibiotics are also found in it in huge quantities.
  10. You are helping to reduce hunger on the planet. Approximately 70% of the world's total grain production is used to feed livestock for slaughter. The cause of world hunger is meat production. The production of 1 kg of beef requires 6 to 20 kg of grain, which is extremely wasteful and inefficient.
  11. Ethical motives. Many billions of animals are killed in slaughterhouses every year. Terrible conditions of detention - limited confined space, lack of sunlight and fresh air, food stuffed with antibiotics and steroids, inability to move freely, violence, cruelty, pain and death ...

For industry, animals have long become impersonal units, but these are living creatures that experience suffering, feel pain, fear, show social activity and intraspecific communication.

It is impossible to remain indifferent and eat meat knowing these facts. By giving up meat and the accompanying violence, one vegetarian saves about 90 animals from the painful existence and death and half a hectare of forest from destruction annually.



A well-chosen and balanced vegetarian diet contributes to a decrease in body weight and BMI (body mass index). The vegetarian diet is effectively used to treat obesity and reduce excess weight. A large amount of carbohydrates in people on a plant-based diet has a positive effect on the body: the amount of saturated fatty acids decreases. As a result, the level of lipid metabolism is maintained, blood pressure decreases and the likelihood of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome decreases.

Given all the benefits of a vegetarian diet, it is worth considering reducing or eliminating meat consumption right now. The most important thing is to understand and realize that eating meat is harmful on a global scale: deforestation for pastures, pollution of rivers and reservoirs, death of people from hunger and disease, global warming, to say nothing of harm to health ... children and grandchildren. Think, please, about what future awaits them? How can a person be happy who is directly or indirectly related to such destructive events? This is inconceivable!

Just by giving up meat, you get many benefits, including great health, good mood, healthy sleep, and a happy life!

The transition to natural, complete, specific plant nutrition will be a significant act in your life. Make the right decision today, and your quality of life will change significantly in a positive direction!

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