Some people are surprised to learn that vegetarian diets extend beyond the popular vegan diet. In fact, there are many different types of vegetarianism, including pollotarianism – a semi-vegetarian diet in which poultry is the only source of meat and eating red meat, fish, and pork is not allowed.
Despite the immense popularity of chicken, this diet is not quite well-known. Therefore, you won’t meet many pollotarians or people aware of its benefits. This science-backed article aims to clear the air around what is a pollotarianism and bring its advantages (and disadvantages) to light.
What is a Pollotarian?
A pollotarian is anyone who follows the pollotarian diet. These people can consume poultry. However, all other animal-based products are shunned. You may be wondering what the point of following such a diet is. Well, the truth is that this diet, like other vegetarian diets, focuses more on plant-based foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy fats while only allowing chicken in moderation.
A pollotarian follows this diet sincerely. So you can’t have cheat days. Thus, lamb, pork, and red meat are strictly off-limits.
Pollatarians adopt this diet for several reasons, such as preparing themselves to go 100% vegetarian, to avoid the health disadvantages associated with red meat, or for ethical reasons such as minimizing the impact of the red meat industry on the environment.
There is no one reason behind the existence of such a diet. Still, it has various advantages both on the health and the environment.
Some pollotarians also include fish in this diet. However, they are now referred to as pesce-pollotarians instead of just pollotarians.
What is a Pesce-pollotarian?
A pesce-pollotarian is someone who eats both seafood and chicken. However, once again, the prime focus of this diet is plant-based foods like fruits and veggies and legumes and nuts. But you are under no obligation to omit chicken and fish from your diet completely. So, you can still indulge in your caviar cravings!
But this also raises the question of what can or cannot a pollatrain eat. Where do pollotarians draw the line? What exactly can pollatarians eat?
What do Pollotarians eat?
In Italian and Spanish, the word ‘pollo’ in pollotarian means chicken. So do pollotarians only eat chicken and not duck or turkey? No, they don’t. Most pollotarians eat duck and turkey along with the chicken. So you don’t have to worry about your pollotarian cousin Bethany not attending thanksgiving.
However, does a pollotarian diet also include eggs in it? Ask two pollotarians, and they will give you a different answer. Since it is still a relatively new diet, no one has quite figured out if eggs are allowed or not. Therefore, you can either omit eggs or add them to the plate.
In short, a pollotarian can eat chicken, turkey, geese, duck, and eggs.
Is it healthy to be a Pollotarian? Science-backed evidence
There are numerous studies existing on the benefits of eating vegetarian or vegan. However, precious few have deigned to study this diet extensively. Thus, most of its benefits remain unknown. But, we are here to eliminate this problem and address every benefit of this diet in simpler terms so that common people may understand it.
But before we begin, you must understand that the relationship between consuming meat and health has many aspects. Different kinds of meat affect your body differently. Since the pollotarian diet allows chicken but not red meat, we will discuss the benefits of eating chicken and not eating red meat.
How does poultry help my body?
Poultry meat is quite valuable because of its nutritional content. For instance, it is highly digestible proteins, easily removable unsaturated lipids, B vitamins like thiamin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6, and finally minerals like zinc, copper, and iron.
Numerous studies held across the world on a diverse population have consistently shown the positive impact related to consuming poultry with a plant-based diet. Some of thee benefits are:
Obesity and Weight Control
Eating chicken in moderate amounts reduces the risk of becoming obese or overweight. Moreover, a study showed that people who ate a high-protein diet were less likely to gain weight than people who consumed a low-protein diet.
This observation was related to the fact that protein satisfies the body, so you eat less in the next meal. Thus decreasing your overall energy compensation.
On the other hand, an excessive meat intake can lead to weight gain. Therefore, the key to losing weight through a pollotarian diet is by eating poultry in moderation.
The effect of the protein on your body depends upon its source. So if you are getting protein from red meat, it is bound to increase the risk of several disorders in the body
Contrarily, poultry protein is not detrimental to your health. No, it was actually found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders by 19%, increase survival chances, and improve overall health. You can also enjoy these benefits by replacing red meat with chicken.
Type 2 Diabetes
Dietary interventions like reducing red meat consumption and eating more plant-based foods can be your key to improving various health concerns like diabetes type 2. However, studies show that diabetes has increased in society following westernization. Since western society consumes unhealthy amounts of meat (saturated fats), it explains the huge number of people who have diabetes.
On the other hand, a pollotarian diet is low in fat, especially saturated fat. So, the inclusion of poultry in healthy diets like a vegetarian one containing fruit, nuts, legumes, cereals, and vegetable oils, can reduce the mortality risk among diabetics and help manage its symptoms.
Red meat is rich in heme iron, saturated fats, and N-nitroso compounds. Moreover, cooking meat at high temperatures creates heterocyclic aromatic amines. These compounds increase the risk of cancer in specific areas.
In addition, red meat contains 16% more saturated fat than poultry. Therefore, replacing red meat with poultry can reduce the risk of cancer in your body as, unlike red meat is carcinogenic, poultry is considered to be neutral or even protective against cancer.
Consuming poultry and fish instead of red meat reduces the risk of cancers of the digestive system. Various studies have shown an increased survival rate and decreased incidence of oropharynx cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer in people who eat white meat instead of red or processed meat.
How does red meat affect my health?
Red meat may be tasty, but it has a boatload of disadvantages. It harms your health and environment. But to what extent? The following section contains the most potent disadvantages red meat consumption can have on your physical and mental health:
A study on red meat in China showed that it increased the rate of total mortality in men who have lung cancer. Moreover, it also increased the risk of ischemic heart stroke among men and esophageal cancer in general.
Unlike white meat, red meat is packed with saturated fats, it raises the number of triglycerides and LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood—these fats deposit in your blood vessels, including those leading to and from the brain and heart. As a result, blockages may occur, which increases the risk of stroke.
Moreover, heme iron, saturated fats, and potent mutagens can have a carcinogenic effect on the body and increase the risk or spread of cancer in the body.
A study found that red meat intake increased the symptoms of depression in men by 46%. Similarly, it increased symptoms of distress and anxiety in women. The same study found that white meat had lower odds of inducing psychological stress on eaters.
Since depression has become such a widespread epidemic in the US, even a slight decrease can do loads of good for society.
Coronary Heart Diseases
Coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is the most common kind of heart disease which occurs due to plaque buildup in arteries carrying blood to and from the heart.
Red meat increases the risk of coronary heart disease. In fact, daily intake of red or processed meat was linked with a 70% greater risk of fatal coronary heart disease in males and a 37% increased risk in females.
However, other protein sources like fish, poultry, dairy, and especially nuts had a substantially lower risk of causing coronary heart diseases in the body.
Red meat is a rich source of heme iron, cholesterol, saturated fat, and animal protein linked with increasing the risk of diabetes.
Therefore, by reducing your daily meat consumption and increasing the intake of plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy protein sources like fish, and poultry, you can manage the symptoms of diabetes better than before.
What are the pros & cons of Pollotarianism?
Like all diets, pollotariansim has both positive and negative effects. So, where it has the potential to do good, it falls short in other aspects. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of a pollotarian diet are given below.
Pros Of Pollotarian Diet
The pros of pollotarian diet go as:
It is healthy
We have discussed the health benefits of consuming poultry and cutting red meat from your diet in the above sections. But to sum up, consuming poultry improves your general health and reduces the risk of certain cancers, specific and total mortality rate, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and obesity.
Moreover, since this diet is mostly plant-based, you also benefit from the standard benefits of eating vegetarian, which are:
It is cheap
We can all agree that poultry is often cheaper than other meats, including red meat, fish, and pork. Therefore, it is accessible to all class groups.
Although this may seem like a negligible benefit to you, it is not so much for the low-income families and the elderly who are at a higher risk of earning low incomes and following an unbalanced diet due to financial difficulties.
It is good for the environment
Industrial meat has a string of negative impacts on the environment. For starters, billions of farmed animals consume many resources like water, land, and crops. More than half the world’s crops are used to feed farmed animals and not hungry humans. Moreover, the same farmed animals are responsible for the release of harmful greenhouse gasses like methane and CO2.
In fact, animal farming is the single biggest cause of deliberate deforestation. This rapid deforestation is pushing the Amazon to a ‘tipping point’ where it can no longer sustain itself as a forest as it does currently.
Therefore, cutting meat from your diet can do wonders for the earth and its inhabitants.
It is a step towards total vegetarianism
Many people find it difficult to adhere to a completely vegan or vegetarian diet. Therefore, you should take baby steps since change seldom comes overnight.
So by cutting or reducing your red meat intake and only consuming white meat in moderate amounts, you are one step closer to completion following a 100% plant-based diet. Because if everyone ate a plant-based diet, we would need 75% less cropland than now. This area is equal to the US, China, all of Europe, and Australia combined.
It removes or prevents nutritional deficiencies in pregnant women
Under specific conditions, poultry contributes to overall diet quality. Since poultry is rich in folate that helps prevent neural tube defects in infants, eating more white meat is necessary for women before conception, during pregnancy, and after childbirth, i.e., when breastfeeding, to ensure that the child and herself remain healthy.
Moreover, pregnant women are recommended to increase chicken or turkey intake during pregnancy to get the required dietary amount of vitamins A, B12, B6, C, D, and folic acid, and minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
Cons of Pollotarian Diet
The cons of pollotarian diet are as follows:
It is against animal welfare
Chicken farming on a large scale provides little comfort to the billions of chickens raised for farming. The hens are made to lay eggs in congested battery cells, which can induce a lot of stress and frustration in hens as it offers no privacy. Therefore, many hens die due to Fatty Liver or uterine prolapse.
Moreover, the cruel handling of chickens before slaughter can also induce a lot of distress. Not only this, the process of slaughtering is not foolproof either. The ‘spent’ chickens are shackled, hung upside down, and stunned by an electric water bath. This method is not 100% effective and can lead to severe physical and psychological stress in farmed chickens.
What is a pollotarian meal plan?
Don’t know where to begin this journey? Here’s a simple yet delicious one-day meal plan to make the best of the pollotarian diet!
Kick off your day with a steaming cup of tea or coffee with a couple of toasted slices of granary bread topped with all-natural peanut butter. You can also have a glass of fresh juice if you like your mornings revitalizing.
Enjoy a satisfying mid-day meal by cooking up some chicken and potatoes with parmesan cream sauce. Add as much garlic as you enjoy and top the dish with a generous sprinkle of parsley to have a heavenly meal ready in less than an hour!
Eat light at dinner with a couple of helpings of oatcakes, a fruit juice or some plant-based milk, and low-fat soft cheese.
You have a wide range of snacks from which you may choose. For example, if you like snacks in a limited amount, nut butter with fruits would serve a nice little treat. However, you can also cook something light like kale chips, rice cake, or chia pudding!
A pollotarian diet incorporates chicken and other bird meat in a vegetarian diet. You have the complete liberty to add fish or eggs to their diet. But if you wish to omit them, then that is alright too.
Besides being incredibly healthy, a pollotarian diet is affordable and flexible too.
Best of all, a mainly plant-based diet, such as a pollotarian diet is good for the environment as it boycotts the red meat industry. Moreover, it also has a boatload of positive impacts like limiting weight gain and decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders. In addition, it can help you manage or prevent diabetes type 2, site-specific cancers and improve your mental health.
So if you want to enjoy all the benefits that come with a primarily plant-based diet without saying goodbye to your favorite poultry dishes, a pollotarian diet is your best bet.