Dynamic Diets

The benefits and drawbacks of Vegetarianism, Veganism, and Pescetarianism

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Senior Miah Dmytrusz gathers her ingredients while she prepares to cook a home-cooked meal.

Following a diet can be beneficial to some, but difficult for others to implement in their daily lives. Vegetarianism, veganism, and pescetarianism are just some of the many diets that one can follow. Some people choose to switch their meat-based meals to plant-based meals for numerous reasons.
“I started off being vegetarian as a challenge with a few of my friends, but then I realized it was a cleaner and healthier way of eating,” senior Miah Dmytrusz said. “So I just kept going.”

Vegetarianism
A person who follows a vegetarian diet does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.
According to webmd.com, about four percent of Americans are full-time vegetarians while half of that number is vegan.
Junior Maci Krajewski has followed this diet for four years while her mother and sister, RHS alumnus Cordelia Krajewski, influenced her to do so.
“I stopped liking meat when I started to think about the animals and how they get tortured and killed,” M. Krajewski said. “I wanted to make a difference.”
M. Krajewski, Dmytrusz, and many others have switched to vegetarianism because of their concerns with factory farming practices, killing animals for food, and overuse of environmental resources. While improving the environment, they are also working to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
“[The decision of becoming a vegetarian] lessens the abusiveness of animals while the meat is being produced, which helps the environment,” M. Krajewski said. “I also do not want a population of animals to be endangered.”
Apart from the environment, eliminating meat has a huge impact on the health of the consumer.
Health.harvard.edu states that eliminating meat from your diet is a cheaper way of being nutritionally sufficient and it may reduce risks for many chronic illnesses like cardiac events such as heart disease. A combined analysis of data from five different studies including more than 76,000 participants found that on average, vegetarians were 25 percent less likely to die of heart disease. Studies also show that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk for type two diabetes.
“[The diet] forces me to eat healthier and get a lot more vitamins and nutrients that I was not getting before,” Dmytrusz said. “So it just led me to a healthy diet, and that ultimately gives me more energy.”
Meat-free eating is likely to lead to lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index, all of which are the case for reducing many chronic diseases and building a longer life.
Along with some healthier meat eaters, vegetarians tend to consume good fats, cholesterol, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals), such as carotenoids and flavonoids.
“I feel like it is better for my health not to eat meat,” M. Krajewski said. “I just feel happy.”
According to webmd.com, the research is mixed on the topic of mood. Some studies have found that going vegetarian improves mood, while others have found otherwise. In a study of 400 new mothers, 80 reported postpartum depression. A vegetarian diet was one factor that led to depression. Also, a “choline crisis” may arise in those that do not eat meat. Choline is a nutrient that regulates memory, mood, muscle control, and other functions, but it often appears in meat.
Vitamin B, iron, and zinc also are lacking in a vegetarian diet. Some of these minerals are needed for hair growth, and without them, many vegetarians experience hair loss. Vegetarians and vegans often take supplements to fulfill iron requirements.
It is also crucial for vegetarians to get enough protein because the protein in meat is absent in their diet. The body uses protein to build muscles and organs, deliver oxygen to cells all over the body, and keep the immune system working. Most people should get at least ten percent of their daily calories from protein, and meat-free eaters might have a harder time reaching that goal.
“The lack of protein I get would have to be the major downside of being vegetarian,” M. Krajewski said.
Dairy products, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, nuts, soy products, and whole grains are great substitutes for meat. According to the American Dietetic Association, eating a wide variety of protein sources every day is sufficient.
“We have beans as a substitute for a lot of things,” M. Krajewski said. “Also, beyond meat is a meat-free substitute that is made up of vegetable soy which is great for protein. My mom also makes protein pancakes sometimes and she just does a lot of our prepping. It is easy to find meat-free recipes in 2022 because you can find them anywhere on social media.”
It is important for vegetarians to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. While the stereotype of vegetarians may be healthy eating, webmd.com warns individuals to not be “junk food vegetarian”. Even though meat is taken out of this diet, sugary foods and processed junk foods may not be taken out. It is vital to replace saturated fats with good fats such as nuts, canola oil, and olive oil.
According to webmd.com, even though eating meat-less can help avoid chronic illnesses, the risk of a stroke may increase. Research shows that vegetarians had a thirteen percent lower risk of heart disease than meat-eaters, but had a twenty percent higher rate of stroke than meat-eaters. Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says that this observational study should be taken with some caution because it does not show cause and effect, and it was done in the U.K. Vegetarian eating could be different in other areas, and does not lower the risk of a stroke across the board.
Although a vegetarian diet may bring some doubts, it also may be sufficient as long as the correct amount of vitamins and nutrients are obtained.
According to a research team at Loma Linda University in the United States, vegetarian men live for an average of ten years longer than non-vegetarian men, which is about 83 years, and vegetarian women typically add six years to their lives.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet,” Albert Einstein said.

Veganism
A person who follows a vegan diet does not eat meat, dairy, fish, or any animal-based products, including red meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and gelatin.
As claimed by Flo.health, veganism improves blood sugar control and weight loss, while also decreasing cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and chances of developing certain cancers.
It could also help lessen the impact on the environment, preserve natural resources, and bring inhumane agricultural and animal testing practices to lights, Flo.health stated.
Although vegans have many health benefits, they may consume less calcium which makes them at risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle. Calcium is found in dairy products and it maintains and builds strong and healthy bones. Vegans may eat dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale for a substitute.
According to HealthHarvard, diets that include no fish or eggs are low in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are omega-3 fatty acids that are important for the body to develop and function. Other side effects sometimes include anemia, disruptions in hormone production, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and depression. Along with vegetarians, the risk of a stroke also increases.
Since the food choices are limited to vegans, they often are left feeling hungry after meals which then leads to the desire to binge, and that can often cause weight gain. Vegans can eat whole foods like grains, lean proteins, and other foods to feel full longer.
American mixed martial artist, Mac Danzig is a famous vegan, and he recognizes how others are free to live their lives as they choose to as well.
Another famous vegan is NFL star, Cam Newton, who has followed this diet since March of 2019.
Vegans do have many side effects, but if a person plans and eats well, according to veggiefestchicago.org, vegans can add about fifteen years to their life.

Pescetarianism
Pescetarianism is when a person’s main source of animal protein comes from fish and other seafood like shrimp.
Dmytrusz used to be a pescetarian for a year and a half but now is a full-time vegetarian. Her friends influenced her to be completely meat-free in the new year.
“I just wanted to eliminate meat completely,” Dmytrusz said. “Sushi is my downfall, so if I do not eat any seafood, I will not eat unhealthy sushi. So I just want to be healthier.”
Being a pescetarian has a big impact on health. It can slim down the chances of cancer, diabetes, and obesity, while still obtaining protein.
According to a 2015 study from medicalnewstoday.com, colorectal cancers are the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and eating fish may reduce that number. This diet also reduces environmental and animal welfare.
“It helps the environment because I am saving animals while also supporting the companies that put a lot of effort into making clean and healthy alternatives,” Dmytrusz said.
The study also concluded that fish can go through psychological stress, but they do not have the neural network to feel pain.
Billy Corgan, Jack LaLanne, Anna Pavlova, Francisque Sarcey, Vladimir Solovyov, and Fiann Paul are some famous pescetarians.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, people who eat fish have lower blood pressure, fewer fatal heart attacks, and a lower risk of abnormal heart rhythms than those that do not include fish in their diet.
The diet is overall sufficient, but eating too much fish creates high levels of mercury which leads to muscle weakness, loss of peripheral vision, impaired fine motor skills, tremors, headaches, insomnia, and emotional changes.

Outlook
People may commit to these diets to target weight loss and health benefits. Others specialize in diets because of their religion. Judaism and Islam have prohibited eating pork for over a thousand years. Helping the environment is also a factor. But eliminating meat does require a lot of planning and mindfulness about what is going into one’s body.
“It has challenged me to try new things,” Dmytrusz said. “I have never cooked this much before. In the past year, I have learned how to make so many different kinds of pasta, salads, and other foods.”

References
Webmd.com
Health.harvard.edu
Veggiefestchicago.org
Medicalnewstoday.com
Flo.health