3. The Types Of Vegetarian Diets
Although we can strictly define what a vegetarian is, there is not a standard vegetarian diet. Some vegetarians eat everything but meat; others eat cheese and eggs. There are vegetarians who eat only raw foods and vegetarians who eat strictly cooked foods. There are even vegetarians that never eat vegetables, and those that eat fish and still call themselves vegetarians.
Clearly, there is no one vegetarian diet and there are several dietary approaches to vegetarianism. The only thing common to all true vegetarian diets is a strict avoidance of flesh. Since vegetarian diets are so popular among health seekers, you should know the different types and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
For the sake of convenience, vegetarian diets have been divided into six general categories. Each category of diet is explained, and its strengths and weaknesses are noted.
3.1 The Unrestricted Vegetarian Diet
This particular form of vegetarianism is simple to describe: its adherents eat everything but meat. Vegetarians who follow an unrestricted diet consume dairy products, eggs, and even animal fat in the form of lard occasionally. They eat sugar, white flour, salt, fried foods, fast foods, and junk foods.
They eat just about anything that cannot crawl, swim, or run. And they are often very unhealthy.
I met a man and his wife who had been vegetarians for over ten years. They were both fighting a serious weight problem.
“I never thought I’d be an overweight vegetarian,” the man joked with me, “but Susan and I each weigh nearly twenty-five pounds more than when we got married ten years ago.”
I worked with the man, and had a chance to see how he became a fat vegetarian. His diet was unrestricted to say the least. He continually drank soft drinks with sugar because he didn’t want those “artificial sweeteners.” He certainly enjoyed ice cream, and ate many of his lunches from vending machines in the form of snack cakes and cookies.
His wife and himself enjoyed cooking gourmet vegetarian meals, and they used eggs, butter, and cream in all of their cooking for a rich taste.
One day he told me: “You know, I hate to say it, but I think Susan and I are going to have to start eating meat again.”
I was astonished. After ten years, he and his wife were going back to eating animals. Why, I asked him.
“Well, we read a book that said some people are probably not meant to be vegetarians. It has to do with the pituitary gland, and how it needs animal protein to be stimulated. When your gland is stimulated by eating meat, your metabolism increases and you lose weight. We keep getting fat on a vegetarian diet, so I guess we’ll try something new. Susan’s fixing fish tonight, and it’ll probably be pretty strange eating meat after all these years. Still,” he said as he patted his stomach, “I’ll eat anything to get rid of this.”
Of course that was exactly his problem. He had been eating “anything” and everything on his vegetarian diet. Listen to what Dr. Herbert M. Shelton has to say about vegetarians who follow such an unrestricted diet:
“Vegetarians often have the erroneous idea that the rejection of meat is all that is required to carry them into dietetic heaven. They do not know that a vegetarian diet may be even more dangerous than a properly-planned mixed diet. Indeed, the eating of most vegetarians is so abominable that one cannot blame people for not following them.”
The unrestricted, eat-anything-you-like vegetarian diet is indeed poorer than the diet which includes meat but rejects other unnatural foods. Meat eating, for example, has been around much longer than white sugar, white flour, preservatives, and other junk foods. There is more in man’s background that predisposes him to a raw hunk of meat than to a sugary ice cream cone.
This is not to say that we should consume meat in preference to vanilla ice cream; neither has a place in the healthful diet. Some vegetarians have only seen half the truth, and remain “ice cream” vegetarians—addicted to junk foods and sugar, while proudly rejecting meat.
The unrestricted vegetarian diet has little to recommend it. It is certainly better than an unrestricted meal diet, yet it cannot be depended upon to build and maintain health. In summary, the unrestricted vegetarian diet can be evaluated as follows:
Advantages: All flesh and meat products are eschewed which reduces the level of toxicity in the diet.
Disadvantages: Old and poor diet habits are maintained. Junk foods are often substituted for the missing meat. The person is deluded into thinking that he has improved his diet, when in effect, only a small portion of the harmful foods has been removed.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The only thing the unrestricted vegetarian diet has in common with the recommended Life Science diet is the mutual avoidance of meat. Other than that, the unrestricted vegetarian diet is more closely aligned with the traditional American diet than with the Life Science diet.
3.2 The Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian Diet
Like the unrestricted vegetarian diet discussed, the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is a very liberal dietary approach. Both diets include all dairy products and eggs in the foods eaten. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian (abbreviated as LOV) eats cheese, drinks milk, and uses eggs as part of the regular diet.
Unlike the unrestricted vegetarian diet, the LOV diet generally excludes junk foods, white sugar, white flour and other widely-known debilitating foods. The LOV dietary approach, then, is a health-minded way to a better diet.
People who are lacto-ovo-vegetarians (“lacto” for milk, “ovo” for eggs) usually are former meat eaters who have decided to eliminate meat and, at the same time, substitute more whole and natural foods for processed foods. People follow a LOV diet for two reasons: 1) They are not yet confident enough or nutritionally educated enough to give up all animal foods and products. They continue to eat eggs and milk to “make sure they get plenty of protein,” or whatever. 2) They do so for social and family convenience. A LOV diet allows a great deal of latitude in dining out, and it may be followed with a minimum of inconvenience.
Advantages: Meat is eliminated and a gradual trend is started to a better, more wholesome diet. The LOV diet is socially convenient, nonthreatening. and requires a minimal amount of change in lifestyle.
Disadvantages: Milk, milk products, and eggs are totally unnecessary in the diet. These foods are constipating, acidic, and full of pesticides, hormones, and growth additives.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The LOV diet has only two things in common with the Life Science diet—it too avoids all flesh, and it also emphasizes more whole and natural foods over processed and refined foods.
3.3 The Lacto-Vegetarian Diet
The lacto-vegetarian diet is the most popular vegetarian diet in the world. This diet avoids all animal products except for those made from milk. Eggs, lard, and the most blatant junk foods are avoided. Yogurt, butter, cheese, cream, and milk, however, are consumed in unrestricted amounts.
Many people follow a lacto-vegetarian diet for reasons convenience or nutritional “safety.” Again, a lacto-vegetarian diet makes it easier to dine out and eat conventional foods. Some people use milk products in a vegetarian diet in order to meet the inflated Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) calcium standards. Milk and cheeses are used in such a diet so that enough calcium may be consumed.
Calcium requirements, however, can be easily met and exceeded on a vegetarian diet that includes absolutely no dairy products. In fact, there is much doubt that calcium from pasteurized and heated milk products can be absorbed by the body at all. Calcium requirements on an alkaline vegetarian diet are far lower than for a meat-eating, acidic diet. In other words, meat-eaters need larger amounts of calcium than do vegetarians.
If you know vegetarians who use milk products as a matter of convenience, there is probably little you can do to enlighten them. If, however, they are adding dairy products to their diet solely to meet calcium requirements, then tell them the truth: It just isn’t necessary.
Advantages: The healthy lacto-vegetarian diet does eliminate many of the harmful foods eaten today: meat, animal products, eggs, junk foods, white sugar. It is a relatively easy and simple diet to follow, and may be conveniently adhered to by those who do not wish to make major changes in their lifestyles.
Disadvantages: Most lacto-vegetarians greatly overeat on dairy products. It is a fact that lacto-vegetarians generally eat more cheese and drink more milk than many meat eaters and those on conventional diets. Dairy products are often used as a high-protein substitute for meat, yet they too are full of hormones, additives, and pesticides.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: Like the LOV diet, this diet has in common with the optimal Life Science diet the avoidance of meat and many substandard foods and junk foods. Eggs, too, are eliminated as in the Life Science diet. Yet the lacto-vegetarian diet still includes many, many foods not considered natural to our dietary heritage. Cooked grains, legumes, onions, garlic, spices, herbs, and foods eaten in poor combinations are all present in the lacto-vegetarian diet. Although another step in the right direction, the lacto-vegetarian diet still slops short of embracing the full principles of Natural Hygiene and Life Science.
3.4 Vegan Diet
All vegans are vegetarians—not all vegetarians are vegans. Life Scientists or Natural Hygienists are usually vegans—not all vegans are Natural Hygienists. Confusing? Let’s explain:
A vegan is a vegetarian that does not consume any animal products whatsoever. A vegan diet does not include eggs, meat, milk, cheese, or any other animal products. The vegan diet even eliminates honey, an animal product used in many vegetarian diets. The vegan is the true vegetarian. Those vegetarians who continue to eat eggs or drink milk are really just nonmeat eaters. Estimates have placed the number of vegans at about 10% of the vegetarian population; in other words, only one out of ten vegetarians strictly avoids eggs, milk and dairy products.
The vegan diet, like so many other vegetarian regimens, however, usually relies upon grains and beans for a large portion of its calories. Foods are often eaten in poor combinations and in large amounts. Vegans often substitute processed and refined soybean products in place of dairy and meat. Soy milk, tofu. tempeh, soy ice cream, and soy meat substitutes are the darlings of the vegan diet.
A heavy reliance on soy products, due in part to a misplaced concern about protein, is the major drawback to the vegan diet. Soy products cannot be completely digested due to enzymes present in the soybeans, and soy foods also inhibit iron absorption. Still, the soy foods are superior to the milk and eggs used by other vegetarians and to the meat consumed by flesh eaters.
Advantages: The vegan diet completely eliminates some of the worst foods in the American dietary—meat, milk, eggs, and junk foods. It also eschews honey, a food often abused and overused by vegetarians and other health seekers.
Disadvantages: Vegans still use sweeteners such as maple syrup or molasses. They consume too many soy products, and eat a preponderance of grains and legumes. They often worry about “complete” protein combinations, and often eat a majority of the foods cooked or otherwise processed.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The vegan diet can be easily adapted to the Life Science diet. All the vegan must do is to eliminate all processed foods, such as soy products, sweeteners, etc., eat more foods raw, and watch food combinations. If you follow the Life Science diet, you may also be considered a vegan, or “true” vegetarian, at well.
3.5 The Macrobiotic Diet
The macrobiotic diet is not strictly vegetarian, although most people regard it as such. Fish and seafood are often a small but frequent part of a macrobiotic diet.
Grains form the bulk of foods eaten by a person on a macrobiotic diet. In fact, most macrobiotic supporters recommend a diet that is at least 50% whole grains, and it is not at all uncommon for a macrobiotic diet to be 80% grain based.
The second most important foods on a macrobiotic diet are legumes (10 to 15% of the diet), followed by seaweeds and hard vegetables. Nuts and seeds are rarely eaten, and usually salted and roasted when consumed. Fresh fruits are almost never eaten by a person following such a diet; indeed, apples are about the only raw fruit eaten, and other fruits are usually cooked and sweetened as a dessert.
Salts, salted foods, pickles, tamari (soy sauce), and miso are used heavily in the diet. The Japanese, from whom the macrobiotic diet was chiefly imported, eat more salt than any other population in the world. Even their plums are preserved and heavily salted. Nothing escapes salting in a macrobiotic diet.
Strangely enough, the macrobiotic health seeker avoids most fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and other raw vegetables have no place in the macrobiotic diet. In fact, someone once said as a joke (but which is true) that a macrobiotic person is “someone who would rather eat a fish than an orange.”
An avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables occurs on a macrobiotic diet due to application of the mystical “yin-yang” outlook. Fresh fruits are considered too “yin” to eat, and they are often categorized in the same department as white sugar and artificial sweeteners. Most meat is considered too “yang” to eat, and grains (especially brown rice) are said to have the perfect combination of “yin and yang.”
Besides the overuse of salt and the avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables, the major drawback of the
macrobiotic diet is that it is so heavily grain dependent. Dr. Shelton, when discussing grain diets, stated: “A cereal and pulse (legume) diet with a deficiency of green foods and fresh fruits is obviously inadequate. It is deficient in alkaline elements and Vitamins.”
Another health pioneer, Dr. Densmore had this to say about the grain-based macrobiotic diet: “I object to bread, cereals, pulses and grains not only because of the predominant proportion of starch in them, but also because their nitrogen is distinctly difficult of digestion and the cause of unnecessary waste of vitality.”
The macrobiotic diet has a strong appeal for those changing over from a conventional meat-based diet. Heavy grains tend to be as constipating and acidic as the meat that has been left behind. The heavily-salted foods exceed the high-salt American diet. The avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet certainly finds a kindred soul in the processed food diet of most Americans.
Yet it is an undisputed fact that people who follow a macrobiotic diet enjoy better health than those on a typical American diet. Why is that? Primarily because the macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian. It avoids all dairy products and eschews white sugar. Simply the elimination of red meat, sugar, and dairy products will greatly increase one’s health and vitality, and this is the strong point of the macrobiotic school.
Advantages: The macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian. It eliminates many of the harmful foods present in the modern diet. It has a well-established history and provides an easily understandable dietary framework with specific recommendations and rules. It provides an easy transition for those breaking their addictions to white sugar, red meat, junk foods, and heavily-processed foods.
Disadvantages: The macrobiotic diet relies too much on grains and grain products which are third-rate foods. Salt is used in large amounts, and foods are almost always cooked. Fresh fruits, salads, sprouts, and nuts are rarely eaten, and never make up more than 5-10% of the overall diet.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The macrobiotic diet is only similar to the Life Science approach in that junk foods, white sugar, red meat, and dairy products are eliminated. Other than that, 95% of the macrobiotic diet is unrelated to the optimum foods eaten on the Life Science diet—fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouts.
3.6 Raw Food Diets
A diet much closer to the Life Science regimen is the raw food vegetarian diet. People who are “raw fooders” eat a variety of foods, but all are eaten uncooked.
Some raw fooders eat uncooked grains, and others include raw milk, raw cheese, and raw cream in their diet. Many times raw fooders will concoct entrees and main dishes that contain 15 to 20 ingredients, all chopped and mixed together. They often overeat on salads and raw vegetables and neglect fruits. They consume salad dressings, raw oils, and various nut butters with their plates of raw vegetables.
They rely heavily on avocados, dried fruits, and nuts, sometimes to excess. They are often enamored with raw juice therapy, and drink pints and quarts of fresh-squeezed juices each day.
One of the main problems with the raw food diet followed by most people is that its adherents eat far too little fruit and far too many nuts, fats, oils and seeds for their fuel. Raw fooders who do not make fruit the major part of their diet will overeat on nuts, oils, salad dressings, or other concentrated foods.
They are on the right track, but may fall short when it comes to food combining or avoiding inappropriate raw foods (such as onions, garlic, raw cheese, raw honey, etc.).
Advantages: The raw food diet, when it does not include dairy products or other relatively-indigestible foods, can promote the highest level of health. The diet is supers charged with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids—all in an easily-digestible form. By eating foods raw, you avoid totally-inappropriate foods such as meats, junk foods, breads, and so forth.
Disadvantages: The raw food diet may still include certain noxious vegetables such as garlic and onions. Honey and raw dairy products may be included. An over-reliance on salads, salad dressings, and nuts is common. Weight loss may occur too rapidly if not enough fruits are included.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The raw food diet comes very close to the Life Science diet. If all herbs, spices, and seasonings are avoided, as well as all animal products, the raw food diet can be said to be 90% similar to the Life Science diet. When raw foods are eaten in proper combinations and according to our fruitarian biological heritage, then this diet closely approximates the Life Science diet of raw fruits, supplemented by vegetables, nuts, and seeds.