Before you consider embarking on a vegetarian diet, you might be tempted to ask the basic question, what is a vegetarian? There are several different variations on the vegetarian diet, ranging from modest omissions of animal products to strictly plant-based diets.
Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian. A person who eats dairy products, eggs, fruits, vegetables, greens, legumes, grains, soy products, nuts, and honey. This is the most common type and what is commonly meant by “vegetarian.”
Lacto Vegetarian. A person who eats dairy products, but not eggs.
Ovo Vegetarian. A person who eats eggs, but not dairy products.
Pesco-Vegetarian (pescatarian). A person who eats fish.
Vegan. A person who does not eat anything from animals, including honey. Vegans also minimize the use of any product made with animal byproducts. Their main goal is to lessen animal cruelty and exploitation.
Low Fat Vegetarian. This diet is primarily used to treat diseases and lower the fat content of your diet. The diet consists of less than 10% of its calories from fat.
Raw Vegetarian / Vegan. A person who does not eat anything that has been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fruitarian. A raw vegetarian who only eats fruit, greens, and some nuts and seeds.
Flexitarian. A person who consciously reduces his / her intake of animal products. Movements such as “Meatless Mondays” promote this type of diet.
Why be a vegetarian?
I can think of four major reasons people choose to limit their intake of animal products, and for most people, it’s usually a combination of these. The reasons most important to you will likely change throughout your life.
Concern for animals. Farming as it is practiced today is extremely cruel to animals. They are crowded and caged to the extent that it’s impossible to move, beaten and tortured, housed in unsanitary conditions where disease is rampant, and force-fed bizarre items that would never exist in their natural diet, such as plastic pellets, the remains of other animals, and a bevy of vitamins and antibiotics.
Concern for the environment. Large-scale factory farming uses an enormous amount of resources and is one of the largest contributors to our current environmental crisis. Animal farming has contributed to air, land and water pollution, scarcity of water, deforestation, and the erosion of topsoil.
Concern for health. Meat and dairy consumption has been linked to a number of physical ailments, especially heart disease and cancer. The antibiotics routinely fed to livestock have resulted in antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that threaten public health.
Preference. Some people simply dislike meat, and have an aversion to its taste and texture. It can also be difficult to digest, with dairy allergies being especially prevalent.
Want to learn more about adopting a veggie diet? Check out this article: Six Simple Steps to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet.
Vegetarian Chicken Salad
Recipe Source: Wheat Free, Meat Free
I know the title of this recipe is Vegetarian Chicken Salad, but I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for a good tuna sandwich. Tuna salad is one of those easy staple recipes I grew up with, and it holds a certain kind of comfort for me. But the fishing industry is damaging the delicate balance of our oceans. Animals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises are often caught accidentally, and over-fishing has left other species in danger of extinction.
This might not be the most gourmet of recipes, but it makes for a fast lunch to prepare at night during the hectic work week. It’s basically smashed chickpeas mixed with vegan mayo and whatever else is tasty in a tuna or chicken salad.
The most important part of this recipe is smashing up the chickpeas. It’s nice to have some mashed, and some intact. Then, you can add in any number of veggies: pickles, carrots, celery, cucumber, etc. – along with some vegan mayo, lemon juice, and maybe a spice or two… black pepper, smoked paprika? The only limit is your imagination!
RECIPE - Vegetarian Chicken Salad
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas (~3 cups), drained and rinsed
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4-1/3 cup mayo, miracle whip, or veganaise*
1 heaping tablespoon dill relish
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
freshly cracked black pepper
*For vegan mayo, you can also try this homemade marcona almond mayo recipe!
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and lightly mash. (Some chickpeas whole and some pretty smashed.)
Stir in the celery and onion.
Then add the mayo, relish, mustard and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve.
(Makes about 4 cups)