We always support the idea of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but nowadays plant-based diets are gaining prominence, so many opt for them without being properly informed and then nutritional deficiencies and health problems arrive. That is why today we want to talk about the Mediterranean diet and the vegan and vegetarian diet, to know which option is better.
Having a healthy lifestyle implies having a healthy, balanced and varied diet, leaving aside negative vices such as alcohol and tobacco, giving up ultra-processed ones, reducing the consumption of salt, sugars and saturated fats. Apart from all that, it is also considered a healthy habit, doing some type of physical activity on a regular basis and with moderate intensity.
Therefore, understanding that we all do some type of physical activity several times a week for at least 30 minutes, now we are going to focus on food and for this we are going to start differentiating a vegan diet from a vegetarian one and then we will explain the best-known diet of the world, the Mediterranean diet.
Vegan diet VS vegetarian diet
They are very similar, since they are both plant-based, which happens that there are a number of key differences. In short, the vegan diet is a strict vegetarian diet where there is no food of animal origin, not even eggs or honey.
Vegan eating is very strict
A diet where there are several levels, that is, from the one that perhaps takes normal mayonnaise in a VERY punctual and sporadic way because it is in a bar, to the one that does not buy a product at Mercadona or in the supermarket that contains traces of milk, for instance.
A diet that excludes all products of animal origin and goes on to a 100% plant-based diet. On the one hand, it sounds very healthy, but it has two drawbacks, the deficit of nutrients and the amount of ultra-processed foods that are consumed . We must supplement B12 and vitamin D (unless we take vegetable milk and food already with that supplement)
If we like to cook, we will be book vegans, that is, with a healthy, rich and varied diet, otherwise it is quite likely that we will throw out ready meals, tupperware delivery companies (the vast majority are very healthy) or we will finish suffering nutritional deficiencies due to lack of variety in the diet and of information.
The vegetarian diet is more complete
The vegetarian diet is more open. This diet is plant-based, but has a wider range of possibilities where you can even enter cheese, eggs, and even cooked ham, a steak or eat fish very occasionally.
A more varied diet, with much better nutritional intake, more natural and balanced, as long as we stay away from ultra-processed foods and reduce salt and sugar. His thing is to buy only fresh food and stick to the vegetable part, leaving animal products for 2 or 3 times a week.
The benefits of this diet are more than proven by scientific studies from around the world. If we know how to respect the limits in this type of diet, the Mediterranean diet reduces heart disease, does not tend to raise bad cholesterol, does not cause diabetes, blood pressure is regulated, etc.
What is the problem? That the limits are not respected and the Mediterranean diet becomes an enemy. When consuming a lot of fried foods, a lot of fish, a lot of red meat, having very little variety of vegetables in the diet, when fruit is not taken into account, when dairy products are abused, etc. It is when problems such as overweight, high cholesterol, uric acid, diabetes, heart problems, etc. arrive.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by being rich, varied and balanced. A good part of it is made up of fruits, vegetables , nuts, seeds, then there is the dairy part with all kinds of milk, cheeses, yogurts, and others. In the meat section, you should opt for white meat and leave red meat (it has been shown that excessive consumption of these causes cancer) for specific days.
As for fish, choose blue fish whenever possible and buy it fresh or packaged, not pre-cooked, not pre-fried, or ultra-processed with breaded fish or anything similar. Seafood also enters this diet, and you have to buy it fresh and consume it quickly, apart from trying not to break the cold chain.
The best ally in this diet is extra virgin olive oil. High oleic sunflower oil can be a timely option to fry something and not spend so much money, but it is still important to invest in health, that is why we recommend an EVOO in good health.
What is the best option?
There is no ideal diet, in addition, before taking a radical leap between Mediterranean and vegan, we recommend doing a check-up and consulting with several doctors and nutrition specialists, especially if we have any pathology related to the digestive system, absorption of nutrients, kidneys , liver or the like.
The vegetarian and vegan diet
If the vegan diet is truly well balanced, full of fresh products, we supplement adequately and we move away from the ultra-processed ones, reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat, this type of diet would be recommended and very healthy almost as much as the Mediterranean.
At the intermediate point is the vegetarian diet, to which we can attribute other subgroups such as flexitarianism, ovolacteovegetarianism, among others. In this diet there are those who even put fish, each type gets its name.
If they are all fresh products and far from the ultra-processed ones, we reduce salt and sugar and it is based mainly on fresh products such as many vegetables and fruits, it would undoubtedly be a very good option. Because we get the good from plant-based diets and essential nutrients from Mediterranean diet products such as dairy, eggs and even meat and fish very sporadically. It is a Mediterranean diet, but with certain cuts.
A diet without cuts, but with many excesses, since in the section of the Mediterranean diet we have emphasized that there must be limits in the consumption of meat and fats in order not to have health problems such as overweight, cholesterol, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.
You have to reduce the consumption of red meat as much as possible, choose white meat such as chicken or turkey mainly, choose blue fish over others and always cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of sunflower oil or refined oils.
Put aside the sauces, reduce the consumption of sugar and salt, leave the whims of ultra-processed for very specific occasions, sausages should also be left for occasional moments, as well as fried, battered, sweets, saturated fats, etc.
We want to say that the 3 are good options if they are done properly, that is, balanced and with a wide variety of foods, although that is where the philosophy of life of each one enters. Plant-based diets help to raise awareness about the situation of over-exploitation of livestock, climate change, the barbarities that are committed on farms, water pollution, health problems, cholesterol, etc.