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Omnivore vs. Vegan vs. Vegetarian Diet – Complete Review 2024


You’ve surely thought about changing your diet in order to improve health. Many people have. Statistics show that about 10 percent of Americans today consider themselves as plant-based, with about half of them having followed that diet for 10 years or more. And about 0.5 percent of these people are vegans.

When asked why they went on such diets, most replied: “to improve overall health”, while others cited certain research and environmental concerns.

However, do vegan and vegetarian diets really have an edge over a standard omnivore eating pattern? Are they really healthier? What are the differences?

Today I will cover this topic extensively, reviewing each diet, and summing up everything for you today! Just keep reading.

 

The Standard Omnivore Diet

If you follow a diet that includes both plants and animals, you’re an omnivore. The word comes from the Latin “omni”, which means “all” or “everything.”

The omnivore diet is the most common one among people today, offering a variety of food choices. On this diet, you can eat meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, or any other food you like. For this reason an omnivore diet can be very healthy and balanced or very unhealthy and unbalanced – it’s all a personal choice.

 

Omnivore Diet Health Benefits

A great thing about this diet approach is the wide range of foods available to enjoy, which increases your odds of getting all the nutrients necessary for good health. If you’re low on a certain nutrient, you have many food options that can fix that.

The presence of meat and other animal products in this diet also provides needed vitamin B, iron, zinc and magnesium, as well as complete forms of protein that are easily absorbed by our body. Meat also contains creatine and carnitine, which both benefit our bones and brain.

 

Omnivore Diet Disadvantages

There are certain health concerns with the omnivore diet, these include:

-         High amounts of unhealthy fat: Fatty meats contain saturated fat, which if not eaten in moderation, can lead to weight-gain, obesity and related issues like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular decline.

-         Too much sodium: Processed meats are very high in sodium, which has been linked to health problems like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

-         Fast food: Very popular, but very unhealthy. Fast food provides greasy and salty meat choices that also tend to contribute to health problems, including chronic inflammation.

-         Digestive problems: If omnivores focus too much on meat and too little on plan-based foods, they are missing out on fiber. Then we get a wide range of digestive problems such as constipation, gas and bloating.

 

Eating Healthy as an Omnivore

In order to eat healthy as an omnivore, you can follow these tips:

-         Carefully choose your meat: Always look for grass-fed beef and lean cuts of chicken, turkey, and pork. Consider wild meat as well, such as elk, deer and buffalo meat. Also, look for livestock that was raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones if possible.

-         Avoid trans fats: Try to stay away from processed foods with hydrogenated oils, as these are linked to all sort of health concerns.

-         Enjoy a variety of foods: To take full advantage of this diet, keep different foods at hand. Try all sorts of meats as well as new fruits and veggies. The more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you’re getting.

-         Track you weight: The omnivore diet is the one that is most likely of the three to lead to overweight and obesity, so limit your portion sizes and make sure you’re exercising every day.

 

A Conventional Plant-Based Approach – The Vegetarian Diet

If you’re a vegetarian, you avoid most animal-based foods, but you make some exceptions. Here are six different types of vegetarians:

1. Semi-vegetarian: Avoid meat most of the time, but still may indulge once in a while in a small amount of meat or fish.

2. Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Avoid meat, poultry and fish, but do consume dairy and eggs.

3. Lacto-vegetarians: Avoid meat, eggs, poultry and fish, but still enjoy dairy products.

4. Pescatarians: Avoid meat, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.

5. Pollotarian: Avoid most meat, dairy and fish, but consume poultry.

The vegetarian diet is considered to be healthier than an omnivore diet, however that’s not necessary true. It all depends on how you manage your diet. A well-balanced omnivore diet can be very healthy as can a well-managed vegetarian diet, but a vegetarian does have a more limited food supply which can result in some potential nutrient deficiencies.



Vegetarian Diet Benefits

One of the main benefits of a vegetarian approach is that it can help you lose weight. In one study that included 38,000 individuals, researchers found that those who ate only fish for meat, as well as vegetarians and vegans, had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who ate other types of meat.

In a 2003 study, scientists found that participants who already had high cholesterol but went on a vegetarian diet, lowered their overall cholesterol levels by almost 30 percent.

Those who follow a plant-based approach also experience a lower risk of cancer overall. Research found that cancer rates were lower among vegetarians than meat eaters.

Finally, a vegetarian diet may also help protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

 

Vegetarian Diet Disadvantages

There are numerous potential health concerns related to this diet, these include:

-         Nutrient deficiencies: Since this diet is more limited that the omnivore diet, it may create certain nutrient deficiencies. Vegetarians have to pay close attention on their intake of vitamin B12, iron, protein, vitamin D, calcium, iodine and zinc.

-         Low protein: If you’re not eating meat, you’re generally likely to eat less protein. Protein is essential, especially when it comes to muscle building and fitness. Unfortunately, plant-based foods don’t have the same amino acid profile as animal-based foods, so the body can’t absorb it as well. You will need higher amounts of plant protein than you would need if you consumed an omnivorous diet.

-         Weight gain risk: Although many people lose weight on this eating regimen, there still is a risk of potential weight gain. The biggest risk are carbohydrates, since vegetarians consume most of their calories from them.

-         Omega-3 fatty acids: These are really important nutrients for heart health, but we get them mostly from fish and eggs. Without these, you may need to find alternative plant-based options such as various forms of seeds and nuts.

 

Eating Healthy as a Vegetarian

To make your vegetarian diet as healthy as possible, follow these tips:

-         Start slow: If you haven’t tried this diet before, make gradual changes first – don’t go off all animals products at once. This can put your body into a type of shock, which increases your odds of actually failing this new form of eating. Instead, make well-thought-out changes week by week until you get the hang of it.

-         Prevent nutrient deficiencies: It’s crucial to include certain foods in your diet to avoid deficiencies. Good sources for each of the potentially missing nutrients are listed as follows:

1. Iron: Fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit (figs), nori sheets, quinoa, nuts and seeds.

2. Vitamin B12: Meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, vegan spreads, yoghurt and low-fat milk, cheese, eggs, and nutritional yeast.

3. Protein: Hummus, rice and beans, soy, quinoa, eggs, beans, milk, lentils, whey protein and yoghurt.

4. Vitamin D: 15-30 minutes of sunshine every day, or a quality B12 supplement.

5. Zinc: Seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains, cheese, yoghurt.

6. Calcium: If you choose to avoid dairy products, consider taking a daily calcium supplement.

7. Iodine: Using iodized salt and sea vegetables can prevent deficiencies. Iodine supplements are another choice.

 

What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan only consumes plant-based foods, eliminating absolutely all animal products. This means no meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products or even honey for some strict vegans. Vegans choose to focus on fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu and tempeh, plant-based oils and natural sweeteners such as maple syrup.

 



Vegan Diet Health Benefits

This approach has almost all the benefits that the previous vegetarian diet has. Because of its lower saturated fat contents, it can help you lose or maintain a healthy body weight.

Research found that a low-fat vegan diet was associated with a significant weight loss in overweight individuals. Studied participants didn’t even track calories, only following a simple plant-based approach.

Vegans also benefit from a lower risk of cardiovascular and other diseases like cancer.

Similar to the vegetarian diet, the vegan diet can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Plant-based eating can improve both blood sugar levels and fats in the body for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Vegan diets may also have some other benefits, such as helping to reduce symptoms of arthritis pain and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Vegan Diet Disadvantages

The health concerns with the vegan diet are the same as those with the vegetarian diet, with an extra emphasis on the concern for nutrient deficiencies.

It is best to supplement for certain vitamins and minerals since they are virtually non-existent on the vegan diet. These include Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D and Zinc.

 

Eating Healthy as a Vegan

In order to be healthy on a vegan diet, you should basically eat as much whole food as possible. Adding a few supplements on top, you should be fine. However, it is important to monitor your health during this diet, since some individuals may not take it as good as others.

 

Conclusion

Summarizing everything, we can see that all three diets have their pros and cons. If you’re struggling with a few extra pounds or other health issues, feel free to try a different diet plan if you’d like – just be sure to approach it wisely and to track your progress.

But generally speaking, no matter what diet you choose, if you eat minimally processed and whole foods, you will be healthy.

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