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.
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
- Riboflavin: Vegetarians typically have low levels of riboflavin
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.