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Why are "organic" and "vegetarian" used as synonyms for "healthy"?

Posted by William C.

I signed up for this site with the promise of a free lunch, and have now taken a brief look around.

I find it surprising to see the words "organic" and "vegetarian" thrown around as if "eating organic" and "eating vegetarian" is somehow automatically healthy, when in many cases that is completely false.

I was a pesco-vegetarian for a year and gained somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-25 pounds, as the added constraint of vegetarianism worsened my already mediocre eating habits. Instead of relying on chicken breasts for protein I relied on cheese, tofu, and other high-fat foods.

I could eat organic foods like organic corn popped in organic coconut oil, or organic potato chips, both heavily salted with organic salt. These foods are universally regarded as unhealthy, but they are organic and vegetarian.

The low-fat craze years ago saw lots of high-fructose corn syrup-based foods marketed as healthy. Then during the low-carb craze lots of foods high in saturated or trans fats did the same thing. Are we now doing the same thing with the words "organic" and "vegetarian"?

I'm worried that this website (moreso in the overall structure than in posts from individual people) is pushing simple-minded buzzwords when nutrition isn't so easy.

Answers (3)
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We have to exercise our judgment as to how we eat the veggies. And I am pretty sure when people say vegetarian, potato chips is not on the top of their list. But yes, there is feeling that organic food, especially ones that are grown locally, is better because it is free of pesticides and other preservatives. And it seems so obvious that it should be healthier than something transported around the world and kept preserved and frozen for months before it reaches our table.
In order to fully benefit from vegetarianism, you need to create a balanced mix of specific kinds of foods to get the right amount of protein. If you are good at moderating your diet like that, vegetarianism can be healthy. But I have healthy vegetarian friends and vegetarian friends who are extremely underweight and obviously not healthy. Because we do not have easy access to quality vegetarian proteins in our culture (i.e., if you go to a regular restaurant you're often looking at salad), I think jumping on the vegetarian bandwagon before you are fully committed and capable of truly managing your diet would be a big mistake. (I know myself better, and that's one reason why I will not go vegetarian.)
Eating organic and eating vegetarian is not "automatically healthy" as you suggest, but eating organic is defiantly part of eating a healthier diet. As Stephanie and Swati both said, a vegetarian diet has to be balanced in order to be healthy. Here is a good example of a professional offering advice on what a vegetarian and vegan should include in their diet. I emphasize healthier because as you suggested, eating organic chips is not healthy, but it is still an improvement. There's a good example of that here; that organic tortilla chips are still chips. The Healthy Eating community, along with the sub communities, is here to support a healthy diet. If you search through the organic or vegetarian communities, you will find healthy recipes and suggestions on how to eat a balanced diet. As you will find, the community is supporting one another to live a healthier lifestyle.
NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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