It’s #WorldVegetarianDay! In case you haven’t picked up on a theme, many of the recipes that I feature here are vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for the better part of 14 years and while I’m not as strict as I used to be, I still limit my intake of meat and encourage the benefits of following a plant-based diet.
Get the facts about vegetarianism and “celebrate” #WorldVegetarianDay by upping your knowledge, getting to know a few famous veggies, and trying some new recipes.
Know Your Terms
Generally-speaking, a vegetarian doesn’t consume meat or meat products but instead follows a plant and grain based diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and seeds. There are many variations on a vegetarian diet. Without going too far down the proverbial rabbit hole, some of the more popular ones are:
- A lacto-ovo vegetarian consumes dairy and eggs, while a lacto vegetarian eats dairy but not eggs.
- A pescatarian follows a vegetarian diet but also eats fish.
- A vegan doesn’t eat any animal-derived products—dairy and eggs included, and sometimes honey. A vegan who doesn’t eat honey or other bee products is an apian vegan.
- A raw vegan doesn’t eat foods that are cooked above a certain temperature, usually 115-118 °F. A raw food diet is said to increase the intake of enzymes and nutrients found in most foods which are otherwise broken down by the cooking process. It includes everything found in a vegan diet with, again, no animal products. A raw vegetarian follows a similar diet that may also include raw milk and dairy products.
These three common myths about vegetarians and vegans are certainly cringe-worthy but easily debunked.
- The idea that vegetarian or vegan diets cause undernourishment—specifically when it comes to protein—is a big, fat myth. There are plenty of nourishing plant-based protein sources, like edamame and tempeh, to choose from that are both low in fat and excellent sources of protein. Certainly, there are plenty of unhealthy ways to eat vegetarian (depending on toppings, pizza can be vegetarian.)
- The idea that vegetarian or vegan diets are bland, lacking variety and flavor is also a myth. Vegetarians and vegans are not limited to plain ol’ salads. Just ask Vegetarian Times and countless others that have been spinning-up delicious, meat-free recipes for all of these years.
- The idea that all vegetarians and vegans are militant and enjoy pushing their agendas (and food) on people is a myth. Of course, there are extremists in any group, but a majority of the vegetarians and vegans that I’ve come across in my lifetime—myself, included—couldn’t care less what you choose to eat or not eat.
Vegetarians and vegans are everywhere. They are among everyday people as well as famous actors, comedians, politicans, and businesspeople. Actor Woody Harrelson, comedian Ellen, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, musician and actor Jared Leto, and former president Bill Clinton are among those who follow vegan diets while musicians and former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr both practice vegetarian diets.
Curious to learn if your favorite actor or musician may be vegan? Search Veganuary’s database of famous vegans.
Cook up Something
Take a look at the many veggie-friendly recipes offered here on my blog in my recipe index and make something good!
Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian or medical professional of any kind. Before starting a new diet, always check with your health provider first to make sure it’s healthy and safe for you.