A Plant-Based Diet May Make You Healthier

There are many isms in the world, such as communism, socialism and imperialism. I went to a farm recently and conducted a poll on favorite isms. The cows, pigs and chickens all agreed that the best ism in the world is vegetarianism.

But the female cat on the farm disagreed. Her favorite ism is skepticism. She is particularly skeptical about vegetarianism.

As for me, my favorite is optimism. And I’m fairly optimistic that I will one day adopt vegetarianism, either in this life or the next. 

For now, I’m trying my best to be a semi-vegetarian (not to be confused with pseudo-vegetarian). A semi-vegetarian diet, according to Wikipedia, is one that is “centered on plant foods, with limited inclusion of meat.” To follow this diet, I put all plant foods in the center of my plate, in a large enough pile to hide the meat under it.

There are three types of semi-vegetarianism, and I follow the first type: flexitarianism. A flexitarian is willing to go without meat for one or more days a week. I can go without meat for an entire week, as long as I have milk and eggs, and don’t drive past McDonald’s. This makes me a semi-ovo-lacto-bigmac-vegetarian.

The second type of semi-vegetarianism is pollotarianism. No, I am not making up these words. “Pollo” means chicken, and a pollotarian is someone who has chickened out of going full-vegetarian.

A pollotarian does not eat any meat other than poultry (chicken, turkey and other fowl). Many people in India are pollotarians, which explains the immense popularity of chicken biryani. Pollotarianism also explains why you can find so many chicken joints in America: KFC, Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, Church’s Chicken, Temple’s Chicken, Synagogue’s Chicken.

The third type of semi-vegetarianism is pescetarianism. A pescetarian is mostly a vegetarian except for occasionally eating seafood. My father-in-law, who lives in Chennai, is a pescetarian. He enjoys fish once a week, but if I said, “You are a pescetarian!” to him, he’d have some bad words for me.

My wife grew up in a mostly vegetarian household but became quite adventurous in her eating habits. She eats a variety of meat and seafood, but also recognizes the benefits of plant-based foods and has greatly influenced my eating habits. Some of her vegetarian dishes are so tasty, I do not miss having any meat with them. And some of her meat dishes are so tasty, I do not miss having any vegetables with them.

If I became a vegetarian, I’d probably be a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, incorporating dairy products and eggs into my diet. I might even become a lacto-vegetarian, but not an ovo-vegetarian. Giving up dairy products would be almost impossible for me. There are some substitutes for cow’s milk, such as soy milk, that I might consider drinking. But having “soy cheese alternative” on my pizza would be like having a bunch of monkeys on the floor of Congress.

Almost the same, but not quite. 

Being a strict vegetarian or vegan would be even harder for me. That would mean saying ‘no’ to all animal-based products. I’d be depriving myself of so many foods I enjoy. But on the plus side, I’d probably live to be 100.

In general, a vegetarian diet is healthier than a non-vegetarian diet, and it’s good for us to limit the amount of meat we consume. We can’t all be strict vegetarians, but we can try to be semi-vegetarians. If that’s too much, then we can at least be quarter-vegetarians, going a quarter-week before our next quarter-pounder. 

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