Are you…working to slim down and feel better? Reviewing the food choices you make and how they affect your health? Concerned for the environment and your personal impact on it? Looking for a healthier lifestyle? The first thing that likely deserves consideration is your diet. But there are so many options/diets/plans available! What’s the best way to commence a new eating plan or adopt a new lifestyle?
A quick search of the Internet or a poll of your friends turns up lots of buzzwords: vegan, vegetarian, organic, paleo – the options are endless and mind-boggling. And which is actually best for your health and the environment is up for debate.
To begin, let’s start with a few quick facts about four of the most common diets.
Vegetarian: The most well-known of the alternative eating options, the term vegetarian means refraining from the consumption of any beef, pork, poultry or fish. Many people choose this diet for three main reasons— health, environmental and ethical concerns.
Vegan: Vegans take the no-animal diet a step further than vegetarians and they don’t use or consume any animal products or byproducts. This means no eggs, no dairy, no squid ink pasta, no leather belts or shoes or bags and certainly no fur or other animal-based products. Vegans also abstain from using products tested on animals. Being a vegan means truly adopting the lifestyle.
Organic: One of the more misleading terms that has recently experienced a large growth in popularity is organic. Broccoli and beef can be organic and so can chocolate chip ice cream. But just because something is labeled organic, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. “Organic” refers to how the ingredients in a specific product are produced. Check out this post for more detailed info on the organic label. Note that some apparel, shoes, bags, skin care, beauty and cleaning products are now labeled organic. Like the term vegan, the organic diet often involves accepting a lifestyle, but in this case, an eco-friendly lifestyle, rooted in the means of product production.
Paleo: The Paleo or Caveman diet focuses on a move away from any processed foods, and eating from those food groups found naturally in the world. Paleo eaters chow down on meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and many fruits and nuts, but they stay away from sugar, grains and other refined eats. Their motto: If a caveman/woman could find and eat it 10,000 years ago, you can have it today.
So which is best? If you’re considering the environment, a vegan diet is the clear winner. Research shows that a plant-based lifestyle, as opposed to an animal-based one, is associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions and other positive outcomes for the environment.
When it comes to your health, you’re guaranteed to find a numbers of arguments both in favor and against all of these diets. What it comes down to is your ethical standings, your taste preferences and what makes you feel your best.
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