Vegetarianism: Move over meat, there’s a new protein in town
By Renee Hughes • October 24th, 2011 • 12081 Views
13 years ago when I became a vegetarian, my meat loving friends and family expressed concern, fear, and yes, even anger over my decision. I was asked every question imaginable from “How will you get enough protein?” to the rhetorical, “Are you crazy?” One relative even described my decision as “rebellion in its highest form”. Ouch.
Flash forward to 2011 where chickpeas and lentils are standard dishes at family barbeques and my spicy tofurkey (yes, tofu turkey) stole the show at last year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I marvel at how much progress has been made. Beyond my family, most restaurants now offer delicious vegetarian meal options, grocery stores have aisles devoted to all things meatless, and that relative of mine? Let’s just say he happily gobbled up my scrumptious tofurkey last year. Now if that’s not progress, I don’t know what is!
All kidding aside, research has shown that following a vegetarian diet has many health benefits. For starters, vegetarians typically have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and fewer incidences of cancer. Vegetarian diets also tend to be higher in fibre and healthy unsaturated fats which, from a health perspective, is a stellar combination. While the benefits abound, it is important for vegetarians to make smart, well-planned food choices to meet their nutritional needs. What you eat will ultimately depend on which vegetarian diet you follow, so here’s a brief overview of the most common types:
- Lacto-vegetarian diets: excludes foods containing meat, fish, poultry and eggs, but includes dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets: excludes meat, fish and poultry, but includes eggs and dairy products
- Vegan diets: excludes all meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products/foods
- Semivegetarian/flexitarian: includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs on occasion or in small quantities
Most vegetarians can easily obtain key nutrients such as folate, thiamine, and vitamins A, C, and E through their diet. However, attention must be paid to protein, calcium and vitamin D, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 since these nutrients are most readily available from meat sources. But don’t be alarmed! With some careful planning, it is possible for most vegetarians to meet their needs.
Daily protein requirements for vegetarians are the same for all healthy adults 19 and over: 2 servings for women and 3 servings for...
Nutrition, Wellness, Diet, health, renee hughes, vegan, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian