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Exploring Nutrition Profiles: Vegetarian & Pescatarian Diets

Uncategorized Sep 14, 2017

Vegetarian | Pescatarian Overview 

Is there a stark difference between vegan and vegetarian? What's pescatarian and where does that fit into the mix? Vegetarians typically eat what vegans do in addition to eggs and dairy. Pescatarians add fish to the vegetarian palate. We'll look at more notable differences in these diets and how they compare overall. 

Cost of a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

Quality eggs and dairy are excellent sources of protein. If these are going to be the staple of your dietary protein, you need to make sure they are beneficial to your body. Although free-range eggs and grass-fed milk are typically more expensive, their cost isn't exorbitantly high. In comparison to buying red meat and poultry for a family of four, eggs and dairy may be a pennywise option. In addition, the bulk section is still chalked full of plant-based protein selections.  

A similar approach can be taken for pescatarians. Wild-caught fish over farm raise may be slightly higher in cost, but the nutritional trade-off is priceless. Many farm-raised fish are treated with antibiotics and hormones to keep them alive. Getting your primary sources from fish tainted with toxins like mercury and other heavy metals may be more detrimental in the long run. 

Vegetarian/Pescatarians may the cost of meeting their daily protein requirements to be a little cheaper than vegans because fish, egg and dairy options are readily available. Vegan protein powders typically cost more than whey and other milk-based proteins. 

Summary: Buy quality eggs, dairy, and fish although they'll be more expensive. They're critical to your health. 

Maintenance / Transition of a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

The transition can be much easier than "going vegan" because you're cutting out less options. Instead of having steak and potatoes for dinner, try roasted veggies and potatoes. Many vegetarians say they went meatless once a week before they made the final switch.

If your body doesn't handle high amounts of dairy well, you might find some difficulty down the road. Many vegetarian options use dairy, like cheese and yogurt as an animal protein substitute. Instead, try finding egg-based options or look for protein powders from egg-whites. Consuming more dairy than your body is used to can cause gas and bloating during your first few weeks. 

Other maintenance is fairly simple. It's no more complicated than veganism, and it's more accessible. Restaurants almost always have non-meat options available, and they're usually cheaper. If you want, you don't have to ask about the butter they cook your vegetables in because that's okay. If you're a pescatarian, just look for the fish option. It's always helpful if you relay to the waiter what your dietary needs are before the meal. 

Summary: A bit easier than vegan, try going meatless one night a week 

Weight Loss with a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

Let's be clear, any dietary change for the better can help you lose weight. However, the label of the diet alone won't save you. For example, eating seven heaping plates of macaroni and cheese is technically being a "vegetarian." Aside from the obvious calorie bomb that would add to your day, it's no way to lose those extra pounds. That means, whether you're eating animal protein or not, you need a balanced diet.

If you're trying to lose weight, you've also thought about going to exercise, right? Getting your body moving and growing your muscles is a good way to burn off a few more calories each day. For someone who likes to workout vigorously, or is highly active, supplying your body with key nutrients after a workout is critical. Carbohydrates are great as a pre-workout boost, but your body need essential amino acids from proteins post-workout. There are "egg"-cellent egg white protein shakes as well as whey and pea protein shakes and bars. These are a solid investment for anyone who's going vegetarian. 

Filling up on vegetables is essential if weight-loss is your true goal for making the switch. A head of lettuce, a bowl of steamed cauliflower, and a bag full of baby carrots take up a lot of space, but not a lot of calories. Munching on vegetables of all sorts will help stave off the cravings and midday hunger pangs because they're full of fiber. Instead of a bowl of rice, swap it out for a bowl of veggie. You'll be doing yourself a favor in the long run.

Summary: Eat smart. Eat balanced. Don't gorge yourself on a seven plates of mac & cheese. 

Family Friendly of a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

Does your family just swing by the nearest fast-food place and order the 50-piece chicken nuggets? If so, transitioning to a vegetarian/pescatarian diet may take a little more time. The first step for vegetarian/pescatarian diets is seeing if it'd be a good fit for your family. There are plenty of family friendly recipes, so start with cooking some that you know your family will love, then branch out from there. You'll have eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products to fall back on, as well. 

Interestingly enough, mostly all of your dessert recipes are safe on this new diet...except your maple bacon bundt cake. Either way, your family should know that their cookies and brownies are safe from your wrath. However, there are plenty of healthy dessert substitutes if you're looking for a smaller sugar rush for your 5, 7, and 10 year old.

Do kids even like fish? Well, there are fun fish stick recipes with cod or any other white fish of your choice. The primary concern is to avoid store bought fish sticks because they can be packed with preservatives. The same goes for the fish selection for the family. Just as added antibiotics and mercury in farm-raised fish can be harmful to you, it can be more harmful to your kids. Look for the wild-caught if possible when buying fish for the family. 

Summary: Know your family's taste and ease into it. Vegetables are fun, too. 

Nutrition of a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

Nutritionally speaking, both vegetarian and pescatarian diets can be packed with the nutrients your body needs. You might find yourself consuming more vegetables out of habit because you need them to fill up your plate and your stomach. You'd be surprised how many adults do not get the recommended amount of daily fruits and vegetables. Fresh veggies are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and mineral to help you live a healthier lifestyle.

While getting your recommended amount of veggies is great, be on the look out for the amount of protein you eat. It can be easy to forget you need to be eating other sources of protein. Look over every meal and check if there's a good source of protein on your plate. If not, grab a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt, or string cheese. 

If your body doesn't digest dairy very well, you might have trouble on this diet. Since you need an adequate supply of protein, you might find that consuming too much dairy is hard on your system. Like any food sensitivity it's best to keep it out of your diet as much as possible. 

Summary: More vegetables means more nutrients! Stay away from foods you're sensitive too

Drawbacks of a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

You might be stranded at a potluck with nothing to eat besides carrots and crackers. There are a few drawbacks with a vegetarian/pescatarian diet. While I was somewhat joking about the first scene, there may be times where the options are sparse for you to have a balanced diet. It takes a bit of practice, but you have to be cognizant of your environment and what they have to eat. It never hurts to store a few protein bars in your office drawer, car, or purse. 

Another potential drawback is the quality of your protein sources. Although cheese is a wonderful food, it may not be ideal to supplement all your meals with cheese. It can be overly processed with high levels of saturated fat. Egg companies these days sometimes put "cage-free" on the label to trick consumers into thinking the chickens are living in a healthy environment when they are not. Take the time to be a conscious consumer to avoid their tricks.

Summary:  Be prepared, and look for quality protein. 

Overall Health of a Vegetarian/Pescatarian Diet

These two diets can be an excellent choice as long as you're balancing out your meals. Consuming more vegetables is hardly ever a bad thing, so load them up. This type of diet may be exactly what you need to consume more fresh, local produce.  Again though, vegetables smothered in cheese sauce may not be the healthiest option for you and your family. Understanding healthy eating choices comes before your diet label. 



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