A vegetarian and vegan diet is understood to mean the renunciation of animal products, depending on the interpretation in the narrower or broader sense. While vegetarians forego meat and fish, depending on their characteristics, other animal products such as dairy products and eggs are part of the menu, vegans, as a strict form of vegetarianism, forego all products of animal origin. This diet is not a diet in the traditional sense, but rather a question of attitude. If used correctly, deficiency symptoms are not to be feared.
The manifestations of vegetarianism vary in strength. What they all have in common is the renunciation of meat and mostly products that are made from slaughtered animals, such as gelatine. Depending on the form, a distinction is made between
- Ovo-lacto vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products in addition to a plant-based diet,
- Ovo vegetarians who eat eggs but no dairy products and
- Lacto-vegetarians who eat dairy products but not eggs.
Another, moderate form of vegetarianism are the so-called pescetarians, who only do without meat, but not fish and other animal products.
The fruitarians and vegans form strict forms of vegetarianism. Vegans usually do without any products of animal origin in all areas of life and only eat plant-based products. Fruitarians are vegans who also take care that what they consume does not harm the plants. So you only eat the fruits of plants, the consumption of which does not mean that the plant will die, but not, for example, a kohlrabi or lettuce. The reasons for not using meat and animal products are mostly of ethical or religious origin. But there are also people who follow a vegetarian diet because they consider this diet to be healthier or more environmentally friendly.
Vegan nutrition means completely avoiding meat and fish, but also all foods of animal origin such as honey, eggs, milk and gelatine. Vegans also try to avoid animal products as much as possible and practically feasible in all other areas of life. Leather, wool, down and silk are rejected as raw materials for clothing. In the case of cosmetics, medicines and cleaning agents, too, care is taken to ensure that no ingredients of animal origin have been used and that no animal experiments have been carried out on the product. In short: a vegan is a person who neither eats nor uses animal products.
There are now many good alternatives to animal foods on the food market. Seitan (wheat protein), tofu and structured soy protein can be used as substitutes for meat, animal milk can be replaced with rice milk, soy milk or coconut milk, and agar, locust bean gum or fruit pectin can be used as a gelatine substitute. These are just a few examples of the variety of vegan alternatives. With a vegan diet, as with a non-vegan lifestyle, it is of course very important to eat consciously and balanced. Vegans must pay particular attention to a sufficient supply of vitamin B12, calcium and iron and a balanced combination of essential fatty and amino acids.