There is a very interesting article this week in the Niagara Gazette. The article is written by Catherine Stack, who’s a very well respected doctor of naturopathy and a frequent author. In this particular article, she asks,
Are You an Unhealthy Vegetarian?”
In the piece, she describes the different types of vegetarians, such as ovo-lacto vegetarians and pescetarians and then introduces readers to what she calls the carboterian.
What is a Carboterian?
According to Stack, she runs into carboterians quite a bit in her practice. As she says,
Many people who claim to be vegetarians actually eat very few vegetables. Unfortunately, this is the majority of “vegetarians” I have been exposed to. They are typically overweight and live mostly on breads, pasta, rice, cheese, milk, cookies and pizza. This form of vegetarianism is by far, the most unhealthy type.”
I’ve never really thought about it prior to reading the article, but I guess there really is such a thing as unhealthy vegetarianism. Of course, we all know vegetarians (maybe we were these vegetarians) don’t get enough exercise or take vitamins regularly. But I think we always assume that a vegetarian is eating a basically healthy diet if not an extremely healthy one.
Carboterians Have the Same Health Risks as Everyone Else
Stack points out that these vegetarians she calls carboterians are at the same risk for nutrition-related disease as everyone else and maybe even more than many meat-eaters. She warns,
My work with this type vegetarian is very difficult. Many habits and addictions need to be broken. If these individuals are not already suffering heart disease or adult onset diabetes they will be soon. Cholesterol levels will be very high. Bad cholesterol (LDL) will be high, good cholesterol (HDL) will be low and triglycerides will be elevated as well. High triglycerides are a sure sign that too much sugar and bread are being consumed.”
Even Vegetarians Need a Reality Check
Maybe this is a good way for us to remember that a vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy diet. There are plenty of foods out there that are just as unhealthy for us as meat. Maybe we should all take a look at our diets every now and then to make sure we’re not falling into the carboterian trap.