A Radical Change

Approximately 12 million Americans consider themselves vegetarians, or at least ovo-lacto vegetarian (one who eats milk and eggs).

This food trend is pursued for a variety of reasons from religious to the belief it is a healthier form of eating.

While vegetarianism can be a way of achieving a healthier diet, it is a radical change and one that is not easily adhered to. There are sufficient studies and evidence that do provide us with proof that even a modified vegetarian diet is beneficial and results in a healthier life.

Vegetarian Food Facts

Many vegetarians are concerned about protein intake. There are many vegetable sources that can provide a person with sources that can supply all of your amino acid (protein) needs. One of the best plant sources of protein is soybean, which contains 30 to 40 percent protein and is closer to meat protein than vegetable when examined under amino acid patterns.

The question of B12 also arises for vegetarians. Most vegetarians do eat some form of dairy product, which takes care of this need.

If you are planning to change your dietary patterns to eating vegetarian, it would be wise to purchase a book on vegetarianism and learn to do extensive meal planning, especially for the first six months.

  • B12 is usually taken as a supplement, since it is found only in sufficient quantities in animal products.
  • Most vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels than meat eaters.
  • Vegetarians have fewer cases of colon cancer and digestive problems.
  • Soy products contain high levels of phytoestrogens which scientists now think will reduce the risks of breast and prostate cancer.
  • Tofu products may vary significantly regarding nutritional content, best to read the labels.
  • Tempeh is a chunky, chewy soybean product that has been mixed with rice or millet.
  • Miso is a combination of soybeans and a grain. Has very little fat and usually used as a seasoning for soups, dips and stews.
  • Iron and zinc are not as easily absorbed by true vegetarians and may have to be supplemented.
  • Beans and rice are one of the best combinations to acquire all the essential amino acids.
  • A good source of calcium is dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Vegetarian products made from soybeans have a lower fat content and still provide an excellent source of protein.
  • Most vegetarian foods contain too much sodium. When preparing vegetarian foods, try to omit the soy sauce which seems to be the high sodium source.

Types of Vegans

  • True Vegetarian:  Eats nothing from an animal, fresh or processed.
  • Lacto-Vegetarian:  Includes dairy products in their diet.
  • Ovo-Vegetarian:  The only animal product in this diet is eggs.
  • Pesco-Vegetarian:  Includes fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products, no red meat.

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