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The Trend of Conscious Eating
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It used to be that the expression "watching what you eat" almost exclusively meant you were on a diet to lose weight. Then came the 70s, and the idea of being a vegetarian hit the North American mainstream. But today, being more conscious of what you're eating has really exploded and can refer to all sorts of diet themes.
Thinking about changing your own eating habits, or just curious about all the different thoughts about food out there these days? Here is an introduction into the ways you can approach your eating and be more conscious about what goes into your body.
This is one of the more well-known approaches and it's an easy to understand one. A vegetarian does not eat meat, but other animal products that don't involve an animal's slaughter may be OK. That would mean most vegetarian's are fine eating dairy products or eggs. Some will also have some fish, but not all vegetarians are OK with that. The term "pescetarian" is sometimes used for a vegetarian who does eat fish, though it's not that common and it just complicates things.
Vegetarians usually ditch the meat from their diet for ethical reasons, to save animals from needless slaughter. Some will go this route for health reasons as well.
A vegan is one step past a vegetarian, and usually stands as a strictly ethical choice to prevent any harm to animals. Vegans will eat no animal products at all, and that extends to non-food usage as well (no leather or wool, for example). This group tends to be a bit more militant than others, and are often vocal about animal rights.
Eating Clean or Green
This is a healthy eating choice that is pretty broad and doesn't mean exactly the same thing for everyone. Basically, people who try to eat clean will avoid chemicals and artificial ingredients in their food and go organic as often as they can. Not only is this approach good for your own health, but it also helps the environment by supporting the producers of natural and organic foods.
This is the latest big trend, and where most people start looking confused. Paleo eating (also called the caveman diet) is one that excludes grains in all forms, most starches and processed foods. The idea is that our bodies haven't evolved to really digest grains effectively and we need to go back to how we ate back when we were hunters and gatherers. It's a health-based choice that lots of people are swearing by.
This is a bit of a catch-all section, and it applies to the various ingredients that more and more people are having issues with. Many people who have these diets will get ill or have allergic reactions if they stray from their range of safe foods. In most cases, it's a diet of necessity not choice.
Gluten-free is the one that gets the most press, and that is a diet where all forms of wheat (including flour) have to be avoided. Choosing foods without any peanut ingredients, sugar or dairy are other varieties of allergen-based diets that are getting to be better known these days. Some people are more concerned about avoiding MSG or artificial coloring.
Any of these striking a chord with your? You can make choices for your own health, the health of the planet or as a means to improving animal welfare. What's important to you, and is there a way to eat that can reflect that?