Vegan. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Flexitarian. We have all come across these terms from time to time and while each is associated with a limited- or no-meat diet, what are the other differences? While each of the lifestyles mentioned above revolve around plant-based diets, the foods associated with each group will vary. Let’s take a look at each before I tell you which one I prefer.
Vegans will abstain from all animal products. Keep in mind that this is different than vegetarians in terms of substances such as eggs, cheese and yoghurt. Vegans will even refrain from consuming gelatine. It is also important to note that veganism can often represent a lifestyle choice in terms of refusing to wear animal-derived materials or feeding a pet only plant-based products. This all depends upon personal preferences.
Vegetarians will not consume any meat that has been derived from a living or dead animal. This includes poultry, red meat, fish, and shellfish. They instead prefer a diet consisting of grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. As mentioned earlier, vegetarians will nonetheless eat dairy products such as eggs, cheese and yoghurt.
As you might have already imagined, a pescatarian is an individual who includes meat within a vegetarian diet. There are many reasons behind this mentality. For example, a pescatarian might wish to reap the benefits of a plant-rich diet while taking advantage of the cardiovascular benefits of consuming fish.
Interestingly enough, one study followed the health of this lifestyle. It involved individuals who never ate meat, who rarely consumed meat or were purely pescatarian. The results found that these participants were 22 per cent less likely to die from heart disease when compared to standard meat eaters.
We can think of a flexitarian as a part-time vegetarian. In other words, he or she will still include meat in their diet (to a lesser extent). Nomen est omen: the name alone signifies that this is the most flexible of diets in terms of what is consumed. You are able to enjoy the best of both worlds and there are no stringent rules in regards of what cannot be eaten.
Although this is only a basic overview of some eating habits, I wanted to provide you with a slight “teaser” of what each diet has in store and how they can promote a healthier lifestyle. However, let’s also note that simply because an individual is vegan or vegetarian does not necessarily mean that he or she is embracing a “healthy” diet.
At the moment, I consider myself to be primarily a flexitarian. I have reduced my intake of meat while increasing my daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. The good news is that I feel much better. I am enjoying a growing number of meat-free days and I am slowly gravitating towards a pescatarian diet. After all, fish are an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.