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Vegetarianism is a very broad and according to some a complex term both with regard to formative outlook and exclusion or inclusion of food. Experts say that apart from choice of diet, vegetarianism is also about "experiences, emotional responses and rational thought process.In general, a vegetarian is someone whose diet does not include certain animal products. There are five main types of vegetarians.

This style of eating has existed since the beginning of recorded history. As early as 600 B.C.E., a vegetarian movement was founded in ancient Rome. Vegetarian eating became popular in England and the United States in the mid-nineteenth century.


[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

  • In his book Deep Vegetarianism, Michael Allen Fox says, "Vegetarianism is more than a diet. It represents a particular consciousness about fundamental issues involving violence, our various obligations to others (human and non human), and the planet on which we live."
  • Research has shown a number of health benefits related to vegetarian eating. Heart disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and certain cancers occur less often in people who are vegetarian.
  • Meat based agriculture has serious adverse environmental consequences.
  • The negative impact of animal foods on health, the damage associated with animal foods and the environment, religious beliefs, and the desire to protect and respect animals are some of the reasons for the increase in vegetarian diets.
  • Those following a vegetarian diet need to be aware of the nutrients they are missing from the foods by not consuming non vegetarian diets.
  • They need to learn how to balance their meals without animal based foods.
  • When choosing vegetarian eating, it is important to be aware that there are special nutritional needs at different stages of life
  • The challenges include getting enough protein and B vitamins in your diet, as well as ensuring that you don’t go overboard on soy, processed foods, unhealthy sugars and carbohydrates.
  • Vegetarian diets are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines and can meet Recommended Dietary Allowances for nutrients. Protein is not limiting in vegetarian diets as long as the variety and amounts of foods consumed are adequate.[1]

[edit] All about vegetarianism

There is no single vegetarian eating pattern. The vegan or total vegetarian diet includes only foods from plants: fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans and peas), grains, seeds and nuts.

[edit] Types of vegetarianism

  • Vegans -- Veganism is more of a lifestyle and not just limited to food habits. Vegans eat only plant based foods and avoid meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, cheese and even honey. Vegans also avoid soaps and cosmetics derived from animal product. Vegan clothing does not include leather, fur, silk and wool.
  • Lacto-vegetarian -- Lacto-vegetarian eat plant-based foods. They also drink milk and eat milk products such as cheese and yogurt. They do not eat meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian -- Lacto-ovo vegetarian eat plant-based foods, milk and milk products as well as eggs.
  • Flexitarian -- Flexitarian are kind of semi-vegetarians. They primarily eat plant based food and occasionally consume or consume meat poultry and fish in a limited quantity.

[edit] Nutrients to consider in a vegetarian diet

  • Protein -- Ensure that the sources of dietary protein are varied and caloric intake is high enough to meet energy needs. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts all contain both essential and non-essential amino acids. Soy protein has been shown to be equal to proteins of animal origin.
  • Iron -- Dried beans, spinach, enriched products, brewer's yeast and dried fruits are all good plant sources of iron.
  • Vitamin B-12: This comes naturally only from animal sources. Vegans need a reliable source of vitamin B-12. It can be found in some fortified (not enriched) breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, some brands of nutritional (brewer's) yeast and other foods (check the labels), as well as vitamin supplements.
  • Vitamin D -- Vegans should have a reliable source of vitamin D. Vegans who don’t get much sunlight may need a supplement.
  • Calcium -- Studies show that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than nonvegetarians do. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products, are good sources of calcium from plants.
  • Zinc -- Zinc is needed for growth and development. Good plant sources include grains, nuts and legumes.

[edit] Vegetarianism and environment

Vegetarianism is a planet friendly diet.

  • Animal agriculture pollutes our waterways and ground water.
  • Rainforests are being cleared at an alarming rate in order to create more space for rearing beef cattle.[2]
  • Estimates show that a vegetarian diet saves 1.5 tons of greenhouse gas per person per year. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that producing one calorie of animal protein requires ten times the fossil fuel as producing one calorie of plant protein.
  • Every hamburger that originated from a rain forest cow required the destruction of roughly 55 square feet of rain forest.
  • Studies show that one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water. The water used to produce one hamburger patty is enough for two-week’s worth of daily showers.
  • Soy requires only 250 gallons of water. Wheat is even less at just 25 gallons

[edit] Vegetarianism and health

Science has demonstrated that these health benefits are related to healthful food choices. Eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds help the body fight disease and illness. A diet high in meat, saturated fat, milk, cheese, and butter does not provide the same health benefits.

[edit] Health benefits of being vegetarianism

Research has shown a number of health benefits related to vegetarian eating.

  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and certain cancers occur less often in people who are vegetarian.[3]
  • Lifelong vegetarians have 24% less heart disease, while vegans have an astounding 57% less.[4]
  • A comprehensive study of a vegetarian religious group in 2001, the Seventh Day Adventists, found that they had half the rate of high blood pressure and diabetes, half the rate of colon cancer, and two-thirds the rate of arthritis and prostate cancer as other groups.[5]
  • A series of studies from the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment, by nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell and his colleagues, conclude that reducing meat intake reduces the risk of losing bone density. Eating less meat did more to reduce osteoporosis than supplementing your diet with calcium.[6]

[edit] Risks involved in being a vegetarian

Scientists recently seem to have discovered that being a vegetarian has its risks, with those on a meat-free diet six times more susceptible to suffer from brain shrinkage. This is largely because of Vitamin B12 deprivation. Both vegans and vegetarians are likely to be deficient because they do not have an intake of the best sources of this vitamin - essentially meat, and especially liver, milk and fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency also leads to anaemia and inflammation of the nervous system. Of all the vegetarian foods, yeast extracts is one that is considered to provide substantial levels of the vitamin.

[edit] What can I do?

If you want to become a vegetarian or you already are, here are a few usefull tips.

  • Make your diet plan that fits your lifestyle and includes the foods that you enjoy consuming.
  • Start by slowly adding vegetarian meals may make the transition easier if you are not used to this way of eating.
  • You will get some of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet even if you only consume one or two vegetarian meals per week.
  • Sources of protein in the vegetarian diet include cooked dried beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Dairy and egg products provide vitamin B12. For the vegetarian, foods such as fortified cereals and soymilk can provide the vitamin B12 needed by the body.
  • Although red meat is a major source of iron in Western diets, vegetarians actually have higher iron intakes than nonvegetarians. Plant sources of iron include beans, fortified cereals, whole grain products, tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, prune juice, and blackstrap molasses.
  • Including a vitamin C–rich food with meals will help to increase the body's absorption of iron.
  • Keep your intake of sweets and fatty foods to a minimum. These foods are low in nutrients and high in calories.
  • Choose whole or unrefined grain products when possible, or use fortified or enriched cereal products.
  • Use a variety of fruits and vegetables, including foods that are good sources of vitamin A and vitamin C.

[edit] CopperBytes

  • Vegetarians may have a greater risk of iron deficiency than nonvegetarians.
  • In 1997, the World Cancer Research Fund recommended a vegetarian diet for reducing the risk of cancer.
  • Animals consume more protein than they produce. Animals are fed 41 million metric tons of plant protein to produce 7 million metric tons of animal proteins. ( Michael Allen Fox; Deep Vegetarianism; Series forward; pg xv)
  • 95% of food poisoning is caused by eating animal products. All raw meat should be assumed to contain bugs, such as salmonella or E.coli.
  • The carbon footprint from producing animal protein is typically eight times greater than that from vegetable protein. Go vegan and save about 4,000 lbs/CO2 per year. Reduce your meat consumption by half and save 1600 lbs/CO2 per year.[7]
  • Being both an athlete and a vegetarian can be challenging, especially for vegans. It can be difficult to eat a volume of food high enough to meet an athlete's high caloric needs.

[edit] References

  • Deep Vegetarianism by Michael Allen Fox
  • Vegetarian and Vegan Diet
  • Why vegetarianism is good for you and the planet
  • Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Pigs
  • Vegetarianism
  • What is a Vegetarian?
  • Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Vegetarian Diets: American Heart Association

[edit] Source

  1. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  2. Animal Aid
  4. Reed Mangels, PhD, RD. Nutrition Hotline, Vegetarian Journal, 2002, Issue 1
  5. Christian K. Roberts and R. James Barnard; Effects of exercise and diet on chronic disease;Journal of Applied Physiology
  6. Eating less meat may help reduce osteoporosis risk, Cornell studies show
  7. Ecological Footprint Facts