By Brenda Schwerdt, Forum News Service | May 12, 2015
LUTH, Minn. — A typical Midwestern meal consists of meat and potatoes; or maybe a meat-based hot dish, noodles and cream soup. Many of my clients are unfamiliar with vegetable-based diets, but often inquire about how to utilize more vegetables and more plant-based proteins.
I grew up in a hunting and fishing household. My parents and I are meat-eating omnivores. My sister is vegetarian, and my brother is vegan.
My meat-and-potato-eating mother has spent countless hours researching and experimenting with vegetarian recipes. We shared many diverse family dinners, and I am very grateful to have been exposed to a wide variety of meals.
There are many different types of vegetarianism. A vegan diet excludes all animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. A lacto-vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and eggs but consumes dairy products. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian excludes meat, poultry, and fish but consumes eggs and dairy. A flexitarian is a term that is used to define a semi-vegetarian diet. For example, a flexitarian may consume fish, dairy and eggs but excludes meat and poultry.
People make the decision to become vegetarian for many different reasons. When my sister was 14, she really wanted the cheese pizza that was reserved for vegetarians only. In the following 21 years, she has remained vegetarian but her reasons have continued to evolve. My brother became vegan due to concerns regarding treatment of animals. Others make the decision based on environmental concerns or health benefits.
A vegetable-based diet has many health benefits. Vegetarian diets tend to be low in fat and high in vitamins and fiber. Vegetarians have lower levels of obesity. They also have a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
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