Vegetarian Foods

The Eating Trends with Vegetarian Foods

More so than ever before, vegetarian alternatives are available for those who wish to exclude meats, dairy foods such as milk or cheese, and other processed or animal-based foods from their meals. These foods can include eggs, honey, poultry and fish. Some vegetarians follow a loose regimen, sometimes include the lighter meats, such as poultry and fish in their diets occasionally. Vegans are at the most extreme end of the spectrum, eating no foods or beverages that contain animal products of in any form. Vegans must rely heavily on alternative nutrition sources to remain healthy.

The highest numbers of vegetarians in the United States tend to live along the coastal areas. The lowest numbers in the US are found in the Mid-Western states. Twice as many women as men are vegetarians.

The number one reason people choose to live a vegetarian lifestyle is health, however many people eat vegetarian-only foods to support the environment or because of ethical beliefs, such as animal rights. True vegetarian foods are free of animal products and are made to be environmentally friendly - made from recycled products and able to be recycled after use.

Soy

Soy is a bean that is generally found and used parts of Asia; however soy is also a crop grown in the United States. Soy can be a good alternative for children who suffer from allergies to foods such as milk; however soy itself can also be an allergen although it appears as an allergen less frequently than other foods and is usually outgrown. Foods that are soy-based include soy milk, soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), tempeh (which is similar to a soy cake), and tofu.

Soy products are often added to foods such as breads, meat products, and cereals and used as a meat substitute in products such as soy burgers and soy hot dogs. Soy is considered to be a good source of protein because it provides amino-acids, which are a type of nutrient found in meat products, and may be a good alternative for those who do not eat meat such as vegetarians and vegans. Many soy-based foods contain fiber, which is healthy for digestion, B vitamins (good for the skin) and omega-3 fatty acids (good for food processing).

Availability

In the past, vegetarian food were almost exclusively offered by only smaller stores, such as food co-ops, private retailers and natural food stores, however many national grocery chains, such as Whole Foods, now offer entire sections of the store devoted to vegetarian foods only, sort of like a 'store within a store'. In an attempt to reach new customers, some store have integrated all vegetarian foods with regular products, and claim to have shown a growth in profits by using this type of promotion.

Restaurants also have joined in, offering a number of vegetarian alternatives to patrons. Studies have shown that restaurant patrons are more likely to order a vegetarian dish if it is available, but will not necessarily request one if there is no mention on the menu. Colleges, too, have shown a propensity for open-mindedness, offering vegetarian alternatives to students.

Some studies have shown a document, lower risk for most chronic diseases, increased longevity, and improved health status as a result of a vegetarian lifestyle.

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