For anyone considering giving up meat products, the question often is how much to give up? There are numerous health and dietary implications that also need to be considered when choosing to become either vegetarian or vegan.
In short, vegetarians do not eat animal protein, whilst vegans eat nothing produced by living animals and they avoid using or wearing animal products like leather. However, there are some further classifications and mid-stages of vegetarian and veganism that you might not know about.
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians are the most common type of vegetarians, and they do not eat red or white meat or fish; This is the most common form of vegetarianism. Lacto-vegetarians also exclude eggs from their diet, but still eat dairy; Hence, the word “lacto”. Ovo-Vegetarians exclude dairy such as cheese, milk, and yoghurt from their diets, as well as meat and fish but they still consume eggs.
Gelatine, Isinglass, and Animal Rennet are three ingredients found in many foods that come from meat sources, making the foods they are used in unsuitable for vegetarians. Gelatine is derived from collagen and typically comes from either beef or pork sources. It is used as a thickener and gelling agent, most famously used to produce Jell-O. Gummy and jelly sweets also typically contain gelatine, as do marshmallows, candy corn, and many trifles.
Supplements and medicine capsules are often made from Gelatine; whilst some companies use alternatives suitable for vegetarians, it is best to check the label.
Isinglass is taken from the dried swim bladders of fish. It is used in the clarification of some beers and wines, although it is unlikely to state this on individual bottles.
Animal Rennet is a complex of different enzymes taken from the stomach of mammals and used in cheese production. This means that many kinds of cheese which contain animal rennet are not considered vegetarian. The source usually correlates to the type of milk used, so the animal rennet found in goats’ cheese will be from goats, cow cheese from cows, and so on. There are lots of vegetable and microbial rennet alternatives for Vegetarians. Soft cheeses are typically made without the addition of rennet (either vegetarian or animal). Cream cheese and paneer, for example, are almost always vegetarian.
There are some foods that are eaten by some vegans but not others;
Honey, for example, is a product that many vegans choose to avoid, as it could be considered an abuse of the bees’ hard labour, and the physical collection of honey does inadvertently kill some of the bees in the hive.
Others have argued that by continuing to eat honey, it allows beekeepers to look after bees, which are increasingly becoming threatened as a species.
Some types of white sugar are also avoided by some vegans; This is because cane sugar is bleached and filtered using bone char. Beet sugar is not filtered through bone char, and is suitable for vegans. However, many sugar brands use a mixture of cane and beet sugar in their products, or might not state their sources.
The meat-alternatives market has boomed in the last few years, making it easier than ever to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. As more products are launched, these products become more affordable, as well as more widely accessible. Products such as Quorn, which is made from mycoprotein (a type of fungus), are high in protein and fiber, low in saturated fat, and contain no cholesterol.
Tofu and Tempeh are two other great meat-replacements. Although they are naturally quite bland, they absorb flavours readily.
There are also lots of dairy-free alternatives to milk and other dairy products. Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk (or cream) are all great alternatives to cow’s milk. It is best to try a variety of these, as some suit various recipes more than others.
There are some people who believe that vegetarians and especially vegans are unable to get enough protein in their diet. However, with some planning, this need not be the case. The meat alternative products discussed above are a great source of protein, as are nuts, beans, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and lentils. Even some vegetables contain some protein.
There is a misconception that all vegans and vegetarian diets are automatically healthy, but this is not true. After all, chocolate and ice cream are suitable for vegetarians, and french fries are suitable for vegans. If you are thinking about becoming either vegetarian or vegan as a part of a weight loss plan, or just to become healthier in general, you still have to watch your diet, beyond avoiding meat products.
Overhauling your diet for any reason can take some getting used to, especially as you learn what foods you can and cannot eat. Talking to other vegetarians or vegans about their experiences, including tips and tricks, as well as recipes, can be an invaluable resource. Having a support network, either in person or online, is another great way to help you become either vegetarian or vegan.
Becoming vegetarian or vegan isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. If you find that you love it, then by all means continue. If veganism or vegetarianism doesn’t suit you, then don’t feel bad about going back to eating meat.
You could try the middle road by following a flexitarian diet by trying to minimise the amount of meat products you eat.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.