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HF HEALTH + FITNESS

AS PEOPLE ARE INCREASINGLY CHOOSING TO CUT DOWN ON MEAT AND BOOST THEIR VEGETABLE INTAKE, WE LOOK AT HOW THE TREND IS GROWING AND STARTING TO SHAPE OUR FOOD LANDSCAPE. BY MICHELE CHIAPPETTA

Today, an estimated 6 to 8 million Americans consider themselves either vegetarian or vegan. It’s a way of eating, a lifestyle, and it’s not just about avoiding burgers and steaks, either. In many ways, adding more fruits and veggies to your diet is a smart way to improve your health and better your life. Though many people assume that being a vegetarian or vegan means jettisoning meat and dairy from your meals, there are actually many approaches to this style of diet, allowing people to choose the foods best for their personal needs. For example, lacto-vegetarians avoid meat, fish, poultry and eggs, but indulge in milk, cheese and yogurt, while ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but avoid dairy and meat. Pescatarians eat fish but don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs.

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Pollotarians avoid red meat but enjoy chicken and turkey. Strict vegans avoid all meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, and focus totally on non-animal food sources — such as vegetables, fruits, grains and beans. So, why do people choose to drop certain foods from their diets? For starters, many people simply prefer not to take an animal’s life. “I first went vegetarian because I didn’t want to eat animals,” says Jenny Gowan. Other people are concerned about how food animals are treated — they’re often raised in crowded conditions and denied access to the outdoors. “I loathe the way animals and fowl are treated for meat production,” says Kathy Lebron. Beyond the inhumane treatment that many food animals suffer, the use of

antibiotics in raising cows and chickens may be contributing to the increasingly bacteriaresistant diseases out there. Ultimately, though, most people cite personal health concerns as the reason for their switch in diet. Vegetarian and vegan eating, when approached from a careful nutritional angle, can help reduce the likelihood you’ll develop certain forms of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Avoiding meat also helps to lower LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. “I shifted to vegan about three years ago because my husband’s cardiologist recommended it,” says Gowan. Vegetarian and vegan diets also combat a significant challenge caused by the typical American diet — many of us are not getting

enough vitamins and minerals from the processed foods and meats we ingest. By switching to a vegetarian or vegan approach, you’re likely to eat a lot more vitamins A, C and E, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) such as carotenoids and flavonoids — all of which help your body stay healthy and energetic. “I feel much better and think clearer when I eat a plant-based diet,” says Amber Warner. And a vegetarian/vegan diet lessens a person’s intake of saturated fats, which not only contribute to health problems like heart disease, but also are a significant cause of weight gain. For those who want to drop weight, adding more vegetables and eating less meat makes a lot of sense, an approach that worked well for Kristi Kenley.

April 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 4)  
April 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 4)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...