Vegetarians, in general, do not eat meat, fish, and poultry; and there are various reasons for people become vegetarians such as: health, environmental, dislikes of meat, non-violent beliefs, compassion for animals, as well as economics. A vegetarian diet can meet all your nutrients needs however, the key is, as with any other diet, is to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds and legumes, as well as limiting your intake of sweet and fatty foods.
TYPES OF VEGETARIAN DIETS
- Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter, are included.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
- Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.
Some people follow a semi-vegetarian diet — also called a flexitarian diet — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities.
Did you know?
- A number of researchers argue that while the human body is capable of digesting meat, our bodies are actually designed to be herbivores. For example, the human molars are similar to those of an herbivore, flat and blunt, which make them good for grinding, not gnashing and tearing.
- Several researchers argue that a vegetarian diet can feed more people than a meat-based diet. For example, approximately 40,000kg of potatoes can be grown on half a hectare of land. Comparatively, only around 330kg of beef can be produced on half a hectare of land.
- Leonardo de Vinci was a vegetarian.
WHAT CAN YOU USE TO REPLACE ANIMAL PRODUCTS?
Replace 1 egg:
- 1 small banana (great for cakes and pancakes)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- ¼ cup tofu (blend tofu smooth with liquid ingredients before you add the dry ingredients)
- Soy, rice, coconut, almond milk
- Soy or almond yoghurt
Make sure you get in enough of the following:
- Iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit are good sources of iron. Because iron isn’t as easily absorbed from plant sources, the recommended intake of iron for vegetarians is almost double that recommended for non-vegetarians. To help your body absorb iron, eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli, at the same time as you’re eating iron-containing foods.
- Vitamin B12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anaemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B12 on a vegan diet. Vitamin B12 deficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called folate, which may mask deficiency in vitamin B12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it’s important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.
There are several other micronutrients that are mainly found in animal sources however, iron and vitamin B12 are the most likely ones to be neglected if you are not paying attention to what you are eating.
Vegetarianism is just as healthy as any other diet when done correctly. Going vegetarian is as personal as buying shoes, only you will be able choose what type of a vegetarian diet you want to follow and how you want to apply this to your daily life. If you want to get the family on board for just a small change to support the environment and health, jump on the Meatless Monday wagon with your comfy meat shoes (this will also be a small relief financially). Something to think about: a British study revealed that a child’s IQ could help predict his or her chance for becoming a vegetarian. The higher the IQ, the more likely the child will become a vegetarian.