I never oppose a certain way of eating or lifestyle. I am all for food, health and well-being of a person. Whether someone is following a vegetarian diet, non-vegetarian diet or they are vegan, raw, or paleo – I support and understand that it is a personal choice. We all have different experiences in life, with our health and we all have a different cultural/religious background. To begin with all of us grow up with palate that our parents introduce to us. Then some of us may deviate from it, explore new things and decide what will be our new palate or lifestyle when it comes to food. Or others remain the same – their usual palate is what they grew up on with some changes. Just like myself. Not that I don’t explore new things, eat more raw greens and superfoods but I still think what my mother fed us was more nutritionally sound and flavourful. Therefore most days both hubby and I stick to traditional Bengali food. And of course I very supportive of any lifestyle that promotes eating chocolates! We are all free to make our own choices.
Let’s look at why people may choose a certain lifestyle to promote their health. There is the endless debate on being a vegetarian is better than staying non-vegetarians. I think it is important to understand both sides and accept their choices without being judgmental. Seriously people the world is already divided on so many levels we don’t need to add to it by being critical about a certain lifestyle.
Why someone may choose a certain lifestyle?
Here is a summary of what I hear from friends, family members and colleagues who are into healthy eating…
Vegan and vegetarian point of view:
- A person may have chosen to become vegan or vegetarian to support the environment, reduce their footprint in terms of wasting water and landscape.
- They chose this way of living for moral and spiritual reasons such as not wanting to hurt any animals.
- Many are vegetarians because of religious or cultural reason.
- Some maybe following a Yogic lifestyle. In terms of Ayurveda/Yoga an individual may choose to avoid meat because it is “Rajasic,” meaning meat creates increased passion or disturbance.
- Some people choses to become raw, vegan if they have experienced extreme health crisis or just because they simply wanted to.
- Individuals can also become dairy free for either lactose intolerance or dairy allergy from the protein of the commercially produces milk and milk products.
- Maybe there body cannot process too much animal protein and cause them digestive or other health issues.
When people have celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, their NDs or Nutritionist may recommend them to go gluten free or wheat free. You may combat this by doing a proper detox or an elimination diet and then reintroducing them back after healing your gut and learning how to properly source and prepare grains. No matter what the reason is we all know a plant based diet or a diet high in plant based foods will supply us rewarding benefits because vegetables supply us with an array of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and chlorophyll and have an alkalizing effect in the body.
Non-Vegetarian point of view:
Remember I am covering lifestyle choices based on health. Non-vegetarians who are healthy eaters consume fair amount of vegetables and fruits too. I am including people who are following Traditional Diet (Western Price & Nourishing Traditions outlook), GAPS diet, Paleo or Primal lifestyle or the very popular Mediterranean diet. They kept animal proteins in their diet because
- They want to maintain a healthy weight (popular high protein diet), correct their metabolism, and/or want to reduce grain intake for better skin.
- To balance their eating habit instead of being in a deprivation state (especially if they were meat eaters before and found it challenging to eat healthy in a vegetarian lifestyle to become healthy).
- To correct their energy level because meat based foods supply us with greater amount of B12 than vegetarian sources.
- To avoid processed, packaged junks that causes health issues because most processed foods are made with grains, flours, dairy, refined sugar, refined salt and hydrogenated oil.
- To be rid of any disease that can be eliminated with the help of this kind of lifestyle. Such as allergies, weight gain, ADD/ADHD etc. to name a few.
- To manage their intake of carbohydrate and protein ratio.
- They workout for long hours and do not know how to maintain a healthy diet being a vegetarian while working out.
Not in defense of the meat-eaters but just a common knowledge that it hurts plants and trees just as much when we pick vegetables, leaves, and flowers from them as it hurts an animal. With the exception of fruits. So if there is guilt in eating animal protein, there may also be guilt in eating herbs, plants etc. Trees too have life! They do feel pain but they are not vocal.
There are also other ways we kill living organisms such as washing our hands kills bacteria’s, driving and walking may kills insects, digging earth or farming (vegetables or animals) will kill worms. However it is a personal choice to be or not to be a meat eater.
I am not stating this to encourage everyone to become non-vegetarian but I am trying state that it is indeed an individual choice. Find out what really works for you rather than jumping on a bandwagon with either lifestyle. If you are a vegetarian since birth or for religious reason than I am pretty sure you know what you are doing. If you still are challenged eating healthy than consult someone professional to upgrade or modify your meal plans.
Remember people may choose a certain diet or lifestyle for a number of reasons. It doesn’t matter why – we should show respect as long as it is promoting health. When you chose your own way and succeed by eating whole and real food, I promise you others who are into process, packaged foods will follow because in their case it is just lack of education, not because they couldn’t make up their mind on a healthy lifestyle.
The similarities in these lifestyles:
I know people who become vegetarian for health reasons. I also know a few colleagues who were vegan and now they follow 80/20 rule for eating vegetables and meat. I have also known friends who ditched low carb but started watching their portion size due to the fact that they live a sedentary lifestyle. I know author, researchers in health field who promotes fermented foods, ketogenic diets and dairy free lifestyle. No matter what you chose to follow vegan, vegetarianism, paleo, primal, grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, egg-free – first and foremost get to know what you prefer, what promotes your health and what is necessary for your body type. Here are some interesting similarities between these lifestyles:
- They all promote health and well-being.
- They all educate us on healthy living and creating a disease free life.
- All these lifestyles essentially talks about supporting real, wholesome foods.
- They encourage eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens.
- They also encourage healthy fats whether it is derived from vegetarian or non-vegetarian sources. Such as nuts, seeds, unprocessed oils, butter, ghee, animal fats from organic or free range animals.
- I am more than 100% sure they all tell us to drink water.