Vegetarianism or vegetarianism is a diet based on the consumption of foods of plant origin. It is defined as the practice of not eating any type of animal, with or without the use of dairy products and eggs.
Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons. One of the main ones is the respect for the life of the animals. Such ethical motivation has been encoded in various religious beliefs along with animal rights. Other motivations are related to health, the environment, aesthetics and the economy.
There is a wide range of vegetarian diets in relation to products that are or are not consumed. The most popular form of vegetarianism is ovolactovegetarianism, which excludes all types of meat, but includes eggs, milk and dairy products. There is also lactovegetarianism, which excludes all types of meat and also eggs, but milk and milk products are consumed. Another form of vegetarian diet is strict vegetarianism: all animal products, such as eggs, dairy products and honey, are excluded. Strict vegetarianism is often confused with veganism.
Vegetarian diets are usually rich in protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) and phytochemicals, in addition to having a low intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, providing several nutritional benefits. On the other hand, vegetarian diets may have a lower intake of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, selenium, iodine, iron, zinc which can cause negative effects on the body.
Vegetarians should pay more attention to the intake of vitamin B12, calcium, zinc and iron, some vegans advocate the need to supplement these nutrients for their diet, and it is important to carry out blood tests periodically. Strict vegetarians typically have lower intakes of calcium, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D when compared to ovolactovegetarians.
An adequate vegetarian diet may be able to meet the nutritional needs of the body, but it is important to consult a nutritionist to ensure the proper combination of foods and not to increase the health risk due to inadequate food.
- V Label (Europe) – https://www.v-label.eu/pt-pt
- SGS Portugal – https://www.sgs.pt/pt-pt/agriculture-food/food/food-certification/organic-certification
- ECOCERT – https://www.ecocert.com/en/certification