What Is The Right Way To Be A Vegetarian?

People love to try new things — food, hobbies, and different sports. And if it helps them get healthier and feel better, the motivation to introduce new habits becomes even greater.

Therefore, those who care about their health are ready to remove milk, meat and bread from the diet, if this will help them keep fit and stay healthy for a longer period. A vegan diet is one of the most popular “healthy” diets out there. In this article, we’ll talk about its stricter form — vegan.

What is vegetarian

People who follow a vegan diet eat only plant foods — vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and their derivatives.

Vegetarians do not consume foods of animal origin, including dairy products and eggs, as well as foods containing animal ingredients, such as gelatin.

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People turn to vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. Someone seeks to maintain health and longevity in this way, some people refuse meat and animal products for ethical reasons — they are disgusted with the idea of ​​raising livestock for meat production, especially since the conditions for raising animals on many farms are far from humane.

Another factor is concern for the environment. It is widely believed that switching to plant foods can significantly reduce human load on the environment, reduce methane emissions, and help save water and resources, and it is important to note that this is not entirely true.

While the meat industry generates huge amounts of carbon dioxide, takes a great deal of the Earth’s resources, and requires water and food for livestock, the situation will not improve much if people begin to massively switch to vegetarian and vegan diets.

First of all, many countries, especially those with cold climates, are forced to import fruits and vegetables. These products are transported by air, and airplanes also leave a carbon footprint. In addition, fertilizers are needed to grow plants, and their production and use contribute to environmental pollution . Do not forget that vegetables, fruits and grains need to be watered , greenhouses need to be heated, and fruits must be harvested at a certain temperature.

Thus, the production costs of vegetables, grains and fruits will only go up. In 2019, Scottish scientists stated that according to their modeling,

If all people in the UK went meatless, “it would be devastating for the environment.”

What to replace meat and fish

Meat, fish and dairy products, which are excluded from the vegetarian diet, contain a number of substances that are indispensable for the body. These include:

● calcium,

● Vitamin D,

● Vitamin B12,

● iron,

● Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids,

● protein.

If you completely remove foods of animal origin from the diet, then a deficiency of these substances will occur, and this, in turn, will affect the state of human health. However, there is a way out—there are plant-based products that can fill in the “gaps” in a vegan diet.

To get calcium , experts recommend eating the following foods:

  • green leafy vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, okra. Beware of spinach: it contains a lot of calcium, but the body will not be able to absorb it completely);
  • non-calcium-fortified soy, rice, and oat beverages;
  • Tofu with calcium
  • legumes.
  • Sesame seeds;
  • tahini (or urbech);
  • calcium-fortified bread (usually whole grain);
  • Dried fruits (raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots).

Vitamin D deficiency is difficult to fill , as it is not found in plant products, and plant foods are intentionally rich in it.

Fortified foods include vegetable fat spreads, breakfast cereals and soy drinks. Another source of vitamins is sunlight. It is also recommended to take vitamin D in the form of a dietary supplement.

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Not everything is easy with  Vitamin B12 . Experts also recommend switching to nutritional supplements, as this vitamin is found only in plant foods specifically fortified with it: breakfast cereals, soy drinks, or yeast extracts.

Iron is found in more plant foods, but it is worth remembering that the absorption of iron from plant sources is lower than from animal sources.

Iron contains:

  • legumes.
  • Whole grain flour
  • iron-fortified breakfast cereals;
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as watercress or broccoli
  • Nuts.
  • Dried fruits — dried apricots, figs and prunes.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids will be a variety of oils (linseed, rapeseed, soybean), tofu, walnuts and a possible lack of protein can be compensated for by legumes, tofu, nuts and whole grain flour.

How to create a diet

Fruits, vegetables, and grains are the main components of a vegetarian diet, and the most important source of carbohydrates. The recommended amount of these products is 45-65% of the daily diet.

Experts state that high-calorie carbohydrates derived from processed grains (white rice and white flour) or from sugars (candies and sugary drinks) do more harm than good and can also lead to weight gain.

The rest of the plate should be sources of protein (beans, beans, peas, nuts, soybeans) as well as fat and calcium.

Vegetarianism: the pros

In general, experts agree that a proper vegetarian diet, in which a person maintains the required amount of vitamins and trace elements in the body, can be beneficial for health.

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Thus, studies show that vegetarians and vegans are less likely to develop coronary heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, and they are also less likely to have high blood pressure. Scientists attribute this primarily to the fact that plant food does not contain animal fats and cholesterol, which can be abused by those who eat meat and meat products.

However, veganism is generally associated with a healthier lifestyle—vegetarians are less likely to smoke, drink less alcohol, and exercise more—so it’s difficult to separate the positive effects of the diet from those of other health-promoting factors.

Vegetarianism: the downsides

There are drawbacks to a vegetarian diet. The same study that found a lower risk of coronary heart disease in vegetarians and vegans also found that a vegan diet increases the chance of stroke.

In addition, the effect of a vegan diet on mental status and cognitive abilities remains unclear. Research shows that an unbalanced vegetarian diet puts a person at risk of developing a depressive disorder and increases the likelihood of developing a depressed mood. Scientists also believe that a vitamin B12 deficiency can reduce cognitive abilities and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Vegetarianism: To be or not to be?

Phaidon Margkos , a professor at the University of Copenhagen who studies how nutrition affects human health, stresses that vegan diets have not been well researched to make unequivocal recommendations.

There is little research available on the long-term effects of a vegan diet on human health.

The professor comments : “If you compare a vegetarian diet with an unhealthy diet that includes meat, plant foods are definitely better.” “However, if you follow a well-balanced carnivore diet, such as the Mediterranean diet , rich in fruits and vegetables and low in meat, then there is every reason to believe that such a diet will be no worse than a vegetarian diet.”

Checklist: How to be a vegetarian

● Before switching to a vegetarian diet, you should consult your doctor. Although there is no list of “contraindications” for vegans, experts state that such a diet is not appropriate for everyone. For example, it may be best for people with eating disorders to avoid a strictly vegetarian diet.

While scientists cannot say what kind of relationship there is between the desire to become a vegetarian  and eating disorders (perhaps plants contribute to the development of the disorders; or perhaps, conversely, people with disorders are more likely to become vegetarian), they do not rule out that transition To plant foods may exacerbate eating problems and promote greater weight loss.

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● Do not replace your usual diet with one vegetarian diet in one day. A sudden change in diet can lead to digestive upset, diarrhea and bloating. It may be worth starting to cut back on meat and fish, then switch to vegetarianism, and only then — to vegetarianism.

● Watch the content of vital substances in the body, especially iron, vitamins D and B12, protein, omega-3, unsaturated fatty acids and calcium.

● If you feel worse, consult a doctor — he will prescribe the necessary examinations and examinations.

● Keep in mind that eating a balanced vegetarian diet is a labor-intensive process that requires more investment and attention than maintaining a balanced diet of meat and fish.

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