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About the vegetarian way

By Cathy Richey

Many people are concerned today about the health of the environment. Some are very concerned about the inappropriate treatment of farm animals. For many others, the concern is about their health and what changes they can make to promote a better quality of life. Fish are contaminated with mercury. Beef is contaminated with a long list of things.

Because of these and other concerns, many people are making the switch to a plant-based diet.

Becoming a vegetarian benefits the body in many ways. A vegetarian diet can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, aiding in the prevention of heart disease. Additionally, vegetarian food is fiber-rich which helps regulate bowel movements, prevents constipation, and reduces the risk of colon cancer.

A fiber-rich diet also helps in weight loss and maintenance because it keeps you full for a longer amount of time. Fruits and vegetables, an integral part of this diet provide the body with vital vitamins and minerals that promote general health, immunity and a glowing complexion.

People who generally exclude meat, fish, and chicken from their diet and eat a variety of plant-based foods are called vegetarians. Most vegetarian diets are rich in fiber and low in fat, especially the unhealthy saturated kind. Some people choose to eat fish and chicken, but exclude all red meat.

There are three kinds of vegetarians:

  • Total vegetarians / Vegans: Those who exclude all kinds of meat and animal-based products such as milk, butter, and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarians: Those who do not consume meat, chicken, or fish but allow milk and milk products.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: Those who consume milk, milk products, and eggs but exclude all kinds of meat.

A vegetarian diet is naturally low in fat and high in fiber. It is a healthy way of eating but you must be cautious to follow a planned diet that includes fortified foods to prevent nutrient deficiency.

Being vegetarian has its own risks

Advantages aside, some vegetarians – especially vegans, have low levels of certain nutrients which they should be careful to include:
Vitamin B12: Plant foods are naturally lacking in Vitamin B12. So vegans who avoid dairy products and eggs need a regular source of this vitamin. To avoid deficiency, a good solution would be a fortified breakfast cereal.

  • Protein: Proteins from plant foods can meet protein needs if the right food combination is eaten. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians easily get their protein from dairy products and eggs.
  • Iron: Some vegetarians have a lower iron count than non-vegetarians. Iron from plant food does not absorb as well as that from meat, so vegetarians need to increase their iron intake and also consume a Vitamin C -rich food source to enhance iron absorption.
  • Zinc: Vegetarians also appear to have a lower intake of zinc than recommended. Soy foods, legumes, nuts, and supplemented foods are good sources.
  • Calcium and vitamin D: Calcium intake of lacto-vegetarians is comparable to non-vegetarians. But when milk products are excluded, calcium levels drop. However, only 30% of the calcium in milk is bio-available, and much of that is used to offset the acidification caused by the milk. So milk really isn't a good source of calcium. Further, non-organic milk contains significant amounts of pus from the infected mammaries of the cows that produce it (they all have these infections, due to the conditions, which is why they are on antibiotics). Kale and bok choy are excellent sources of calcium, superior to milk. A diet based on these two nutrient-dense vegetables is healthy in many ways. Lower your need for calcium by supplementing lingually with a Vitamin D3 spray.
  • Riboflavin: Vegetarians typically have low levels of riboflavin compared to non-vegetarians. This can be corrected by eating more of any of the following: almonds, bananas, and broccoli.

By selecting the proper foods, a vegetarian can choose to eliminate all animal products from their diet and still have a nutritionally adequate diet. An unwise selection of foods can leave you short of certain nutrients and may induce deficiency symptoms and adverse health outcomes. Following a well planned plant-based diet lowers the risk of age-related problems.


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