I have, only recently, begun eating a more vegetarian diet when I decided to break up with my prior food relationship to begin a new one. I realized the former food relationship was dragging me down. Ultimately, this is a food lifestyle change. It’s not the easiest transition, but it’s all good.
I made dietary lifestyle changes for personal health reasons. There is a shock value when you learn the diet you were following, and thought was healthy, was the underlying culprit to some health issues. Yep, those veggie burgers started looking a whole lot more appetizing after that discovery. I am not going to lie, there are times when I have a craving for that perfectly grilled steak, or a nicely roasted chicken, but those cravings are becoming few and far between now.
I am a vegetarian, not a full-fledged vegan. Yes, there’s a difference! I have always liked veggies and fruits, and I suppose I used to be what is referred to as flexitarian, or semi-vegetarian, because even though I was eating mostly vegetable-based whole foods, there were those times when meat was in the meal. Ha, sometimes meat was the meal! Then I moved away from meats and began incorporating just fish along with my plateful of veggies, and that made me a pescatarian.
Now I am vegetarian, of which there are various forms. We really like to label things, so let me explain a bit about each “vegetarian” label and why it might matter to you.
“Lacto” is Latin for milk and “Ovo” is Latin for eggs. So you have those folks who are classified as lactose-ovo-vegetarians enjoying their fruits and veggie varieties while not eating any form of meat, yet they consume eggs and dairy products, so you might just see them savoring a smooth, creamy whole-milk yogurt, as an example. There are lactose-vegetarians who don’t eat eggs but still eat and drink dairy products. Then we have the ovo-vegetarians who don’t eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs.
Are you confused yet? Let me tell you, my head still spins when trying to figure out my vegetarian path. I still eat eggs because, well, I like eggs and for me they are still a great source of nutrition, although I make sure they are truly cage/range free and organic. I do not drink cow’s milk (that’s another story in and of itself).
Alas, we have the vegans — and that’s a tough act to follow (so I don’t). A true vegan will not eat meat, eggs, dairy products or anything that is processed using animal-derived ingredients. They also will not, under any circumstances, wear clothing that is made from animals. We’ve got those folks who follow a strict raw foods vegan approach, meaning that they only eat foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees and there are unprocessed varieties. I must say that I do enjoy raw foods recipes every now and again! And if you enjoy whole grains, veggies, fruits and fish once in a while, along with seaweed and sea veggies, then you get to enjoy what’s called macrobiotics.
A true vegan lifestyle can be extremely difficult to maintain; thus, the majority of folks who say they don’t eat meat probably fall into the Ovo-Vegetarian or Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian varieties. I am one of those Ovo-Vegetarians, and proud of it! It’s a nutrition lifestyle I can maintain. I can still enjoy eggs for breakfast, and I can incorporate in raw foods or macrobiotic options whenever the mood strikes. My food lifestyle is a mix of many vegetarian variations and I am healthier for having made the change.
I cannot say 100 percent that the diet is the reason, but I do know that my body seems to appreciate the cleaner eating habits and has rewarded me with a much less muddled brain and a stronger spiritual connection.