Are you a Flexitarian, Pescatarian, Vegetarian, Vegan or Plant-based eater? What’s the difference between all these eating patterns? There’s no need to get hung up on labels, but you might find it helpful to understand the differences between these various eating patterns.
Plant powered foods are helpful in preventing and managing chronic illnesses, improving not only overall health but also longevity and quality of life. Plant-based foods increase your intake of health-promoting levels of nutrients, fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants. These help to reduce inflammation in the body among other things. Foods from the plant kingdom can also help with gastrointestinal issues helping to keep your intestines in good working order.
Humans are natural omnivores, though the first humans didn't have access to endless meat and dairy as we do today. Flexitarians, often referred to as semi-vegetarians, consume a mostly plant-based diet. Flexitarians are omnivores, but the diet focuses more on eating as our ancestors did with lots of plant-based foods with the occasional inclusion of animal-based foods like meat, dairy, fish and eggs.
Now its important to also point out that Plant-based eaters differ slightly from a Flexitarian. People who eat plant-based food focus mostly on fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and good quality plant-based proteins. They’ve also eliminated or minimized consumption of animal based foods, like red and processed meats, fish, dairy and eggs.
Pescatarians abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh (like red meat and poultry) with the exception of fish. A pescatarian maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and other seafood like shrimp, mussels, salmon, crabs and lobster.
Vegetarians generally consume fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes as well as dairy and eggs. Meat and fish are completely avoided. Some vegetarians also apply some of the vegan principles to their lifestyle, by avoiding goods involved in animal testing or created with animal-like leather goods.
Vegans avoid eating (and typically wearing or buying any product that directly or indirectly involves the human use of animals) anything that contains animal products including seafood, meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs and even honey. They focus solely on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and quality plant-based proteins.
Whichever eating pattern you’ve opted for plant-based food choices are more abundant than ever, from grocery stores to your favorite restaurants. Whether you're already on the plant path or just thinking about it you will find supportive cooking classes and recipes right here on our website!
In my next blog post we will explore the best veggies for plant-based and vegan eating. In the meantime, check out this stuffed Zucchini recipe that can be adapted for any of the eating patterns covered in this blog post.
Stuffed Baked Balsamic Zucchini
2 six inch zucchini
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 large garlic cloves
½ cup chopped sweet yellow onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plant-based parmesan cheese or regular parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dairy free sour cream or regular sour cream
½ cup crushed seasoned croutons
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (omit if using dairy cheeses)
½ cup plant-based mozzarella cheese or low-moisture mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil the zucchini gently in salted water for 5-6 minutes. Remove from water and let cool.
Sauté the onion and garlic in the avocado oil until golden.
Cut the zucchini in two and scoop out the pulp. Chop the pulp from one whole zucchini and add it to the onion and garlic mixture. Remove from heat.
Add the salt, nutritional yeast, plant-based parmesan cheese, dairy-free sour cream and crushed croutons. Mix until blended.
Take the mixture and stuff each of the four zucchini halves. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the zucchini from the oven and sprinkle the plant-based mozzarella cheese over each half. Return to oven and bake until the cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).
Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve with your favorite entrée.
Flexitarians looking for a meat version of this recipe, you can add Italian sausage or check out my grilled Chorizo stuffed zucchini boat recipe.
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