Meatless Mondays…Vegatarian or Vegan?

EAT UP!Meatless Mondays?

The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 on last Friday (Nov. 9, 2012) to adopt a resolution of meatless Mondays for its citizens.  The idea is for citizens to go meatless on Mondays in an effort to become healthier by limiting diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  According to the Meatless Monday website, there are several other cities in the U.S. and around the world who have endorsed meatless Mondays.

This is my first day adopting the policy of meatless Mondays for myself.  Actually, for the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking very seriously about becoming a vegetarian…or a vegan.  The way I see it, my body will  benefit greatly from a change to eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains.  So I looked into both the vegan and the vegetarian diet to see which one I would be more prone to comply with.

It wasn’t even close.  Of course the vegetarian diet won hands down.  I’ve grown to take for granted the daily consumption of milk and dairy products over the span of my lifetime, and the vegetarian diet would allow me to continue to enjoy them. I’d give them up if I absolutely had to, but I don’t think I can give them up very easily, or for very long.

Actually, for the last few years I’ve been eating mostly chicken, and sea foods, while omitting the red meats.   So I guess one could say that I am already a semi vegetarian.

But a vegetarian diet has its drawbacks.  This is because a vegetarian diet can be lacking in some of the essential nutrients our bodies need.  Because of this, a vegetarian diet must be well planned.  Specific nutrients that may be lacking are:  protein, iron, zinc, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids and other important nutrients…including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, and riboflavin.

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, I would suggest that you consult your doctor or nutritionist first, or at least investigate it carefully.  This is in order to make sure your choice of foods will provide all of the  necessary nutrients you will require. A family with growing children and mothers who are breast feeding or are pregnant can all consume a vegetarian diet without any harm.  Perhaps it is a good idea to start off slowly, one day a week; eg Meatless Mondays.

As I already suggested, the thing to do first is to learn of your family’s nutritional requirements so their needs will be met.  A vegan diet completely excludes meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.  As you can determine, it is a bit more restrictive than what the vegetarian diet is. This is because it does not allow for the eggs and dairy products.

Foods that are allowed on both the vegan and vegetarian diet include:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Soy products, beans, and nuts
  • canola, olive and sesame oils, and coconut oil
  • Whole-grain cereals and breads
  •  whole-wheat and whole grain pasta, vegetable pasta, tortillas, brown rice, barley, quinoa, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
  • For the vegetarian diet only, milk and dairy products are included.

I hope this has given you some insight on the benefits of going meatless once a week.  Also in the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian diet plan.  I know for a long time in the past I always confused the two.  The big thing to remember is if you like your milk and dairy products, go vegetarian.

Healthy trails to you.

Carolyn