Exploring Vegetarianism

July 27, 2020

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Squash basil pasta dish
Photo Courtesy: Bon Appétit

Eating Pattern Series

For the second eating pattern in this series, we will be exploring vegetarianism this week!

The Basics: The vegetarian eating pattern has been common for a long time in the United States and around the world, but “vegetarian” is an umbrella term that is used to describe several ways of eating that all involve the elimination of animal products to some degree. In mainstream media, what is commonly referred to as the “vegetarian” eating pattern is actually the lacto-ovo-vegetarian eating pattern. Lacto-ovo-vegetarian simply refers to the exclusion of meat from the eating pattern and the inclusion of dairy products and eggs. Thereare many reasons that someone may choose to follow a lacto-ovo-vegetarian eating pattern. Some of the most common reasons are for environmental protection, ethical reasons, personal health reasons, or even religious reasons.

Around the World: Vegetarianism is common is almost all countries, to some degree, but is actually the most common in India. This is due to religious reasons, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all follow vegetarianismto reduce harm to all forms of life.

Pros: There are many pros to the vegetarian eating pattern. Some studies have even shown that vegetarians have higher intakes of fiber and vitamin c. Increased fiber in the diet may help with weight loss and maintenance along with improved heart health.

Cons: Because the vegetarian eating pattern has a heavy focus on plant-based foods, some may struggle during the fall and winter seasons if they live in a colder climate where growing seasons are shorter than warmer climates.

Potential Health Benefits: One major potential health benefit comes from the increased fiber in the diet which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. In addition, some studies have shown lower cancer rates in those who follow a vegetarian eating pattern. These studies are only observational though, which cannot show a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between vegetarianism and lower rates of cancer.

Recipe: To get a taste of vegetarianism, check out this recipe for summer squash and basil pasta! This recipe is fresh and simple, and summer squash is in season right now.

Resources to Learn More: To learn more about why some choose to follow a vegetarian eating pattern, check out Food Inc. on Amazon Prime Video. If you are just looking to try some new recipes this summer, check out How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman or Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen!

Be on the lookout for next week’s eating pattern; Paleo!

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