What am I eating?!
Once upon a time people just ate food—whatever was put on the table in front of them, usually. But these days people of all ages are adopting special diets for both health and personal reasons. You may even have a child or grandchild who has chosen to change what’s allowed on his or her dinner plate.
It can sometimes be a little challenging to figure out what each of these diets is all about, and to accommodate those who are following them when you’re hosting a dinner party or special meal. That’s why we’ve come up with a brief primer that explains the basic rules and motivations behind the latest and most common dietary trends.
As the name implies, vegetarians do not eat meat, and that includes fish or poultry. They do, however, usually consume or use animal products and by-products like eggs, dairy, honey, silk, wool and leather. Some choose to become vegetarians because they object to eating animals, while others adopt the diet for health reasons. In fact, according to Brown University, vegetarians tend to have lower rates of heart disease and some forms of cancer than non-vegetarians.
Essentially, a vegan is a very strict vegetarian. In addition to avoiding meat they will not eat or use any animal products or by-products. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, the key to a nutritionally sound vegan diet is eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds and legumes. For a variety of vegan and vegetarian recipes including pancakes, soups, holiday meals and even baby food made from scratch, visit the Vegetarian Resource Group’s recipe section .
The Paleolithic diet is also sometimes known as “the caveman diet” because, in a nutshell, those who eat paleo are attempting to closely mimic the diet of our ancient ancestors. They were hunter-gatherers, meaning their diet was based on meat they could hunt or food they could scrounge including things like seeds, local greens and vegetables. Because Paleolithic people didn’t farm, they didn’t eat any grains. That means that modern paleo eaters avoid bread, sugar, cereal, pasta and processed foods. For a huge list of paleo recipes including bacon stir-fry breakfast, apple chips, zucchini fritters, and beef and vegetable chili, visit Paleo Plan.
According to Certified Organic Associations of BC, organic food is food grown or raised without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Animals are never fed by-products of other animals, nor are they kept constantly caged indoors. Also, organic foods don’t contain chemical preservatives or synthetic additives like colorings or waxes. There is no way to accommodate a person who eats strictly organic other than purchasing certified organic ingredients for the meals you make.
There are also a wide variety of special diets prescribed by physicians for people with medical conditions like hypertension, kidney failure, heart disease or diabetes; and you may know people who are now eating gluten-free or lactose-free diets due to allergies.
It’s always wise to check with a physician before exploring a radical new diet to ensure that you’re always taking in the proper amount of vitamins, minerals and protein needed to sustain a healthy body.
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