Here's some (veggie) food for thought: Take It Slow
If you're new to the vegetarian diet, Havala suggests gradually weaning yourself off animal products
rather than going cold turkey, so to speak.
This gives your body & your appetite time
to adjust to the absence of filling meats. Begin by decreasing the amount of meat in main dishes. For example, instead of
having a whole chicken breast, prepare a vegetable stir-fry w/small chunks of chicken. Eventually, you can just skip the chicken.
You should also continue to make your favorite
dishes; just replace the meat w/a soy-based alternative. Chili, spaghetti sauce and tacos,
for example, taste great w/soy crumbles, a good substitute for ground meat.
It may seem daunting to whip up creative
veggie-only dishes day in & day out. That's why you should stock up on the frozen vegetarian meals available at most supermarkets.
Also, don't forget veggie burgers, dogs & deli meats (Soy Deli is
Pick Your Food
Contrary to popular belief, "you can get all the vitamins &
minerals you need w/a vegetarian diet," says Havala. You simply have to add a variety of new foods to your pantry. Here are
some nutritious winners:
Calcium: You probably never knew that pinto
beans contain calcium; just 1/2 cup has a respectable 45 milligrams. Other calcium-rich vegetarian options
are tofu (408 milligrams in 1 cup); calcium-fortified
soy milk (200 to 300 milligrams per 8 ozs);
orange juice (200 milligrams per 6 ozs); breads (290 milligrams per 3 ozs); & cereals (150 to 600 milligrams per cup).
Who needs dairy to get 1,000 milligrams the
recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium?
Iron: Cooked kale,
a leafy green, contains 1.8 milligrams of iron in 1 cup about the same amount you'd find in a 1.5 oz. sirloin steak. Other
foods that meet your iron RDA (32 milligrams for vegetarian women vs. just 18 milligrams for non-vegetarians, because
the blood absorbs iron more readily from meat than from other sources): kidney beans (4.6 milligrams per cup); lentils (4.2 milligrams per cup);
fortified cereals (4.7 milligrams per 30 grams); enriched pasta (2.2 milligrams per cup); & whole-grain bread (0.8 milligrams per slice). If you still have trouble filling your iron quota, take
a daily multivitamin.
Protein: It's not as hard as you'd think to work protein into a vegetarian diet, since
nearly every food on Earth contains some of this nutrient.
"Protein is the biggest nonissue," says Havala. "It's part of the myth of vegetarianism."
With 46 grams of protein
as your goal, you can get your fill w/tofu (10
grams per half cup); veggie burgers (18
grams each); whole grains (7 to 26 grams
per 100 grams); nuts (26 grams per cup
of walnuts); & lentils (16 grams per
Vitamin B-12. This vitamin, found exclusively in animal products & essential for a
healthy nervous system, is the only nutrient that vegetarians really need to be concerned about.
Havala suggests taking a complete
multivitamin or a B-12 supplement daily, or eat nutritional yeast, a food Havala likens to vegetarian Parmesan cheese. That ought to fill
the B-12 gap in your diet.
Finally, a great way to pack your diet w/a nutritional punch is to consume as many vegetarian super-foods those loaded
w/key vitamins & minerals as possible.
After all, w/fewer food
options, you'll need to get the biggest bang for your buck. Here, some yummy, high-nutrition eats:
Chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids & fiber
Oats: A high-fiber, high-satiety food. (They make you feel full)
Leafy greens: Rich in antioxidants & vitamins A, C & E
Packed w/vitamins A, C, B1 & B2, beta-carotene, calcium, iron & fiber
Blackstrap molasses: A potent source of iron
Vegetarian baked beans: Contain calcium, iron, B vitamins, zinc & fiber
Olive oil: Rich in monounsaturated
fat & antioxidants.
A vegetarian diet is a meal plan that contains little or no
Types of vegetarian diets include:
- Vegan: Diet consists of only foods of plant origin.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Diet consists of plant foods plus some or
all dairy products.
- Lacto-ovovegetarian: Diet consists of plant foods, dairy products,
- Semi- or partial vegetarian: Diet consists of plant foods and
may include chicken or fish, dairy products, and eggs. It does not include red meat.
Lacto-ovovegetarian; Semi-vegetarian; Partial vegetarian; Vegan;
A person may choose to follow a vegetarian diet for a variety
of reasons, including religious, moral or political beliefs, economics, or the desire to eat more healthy foods.
The American Dietetic Association states that a well-planned
vegetarian diet can deliver good nutrition. Dietary recommendations vary with the type of vegetarian diet. For children and
adolescents these diets require special planning, because it may be difficult to obtain all the nutrients required for growth
Nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetarian's diet include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
Protein is necessary for good health. There are two types of
protein: complete and incomplete. Complete proteins contain adequate amounts of the essential substances (amino acids) needed
for health. They are found in meats, milk, fish, and eggs. Incomplete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids, but
not enough of them.
You do not have to eat animal products to get complete proteins
in your diet. You can mix two incomplete proteins or an incomplete protein with a complete protein to get the proper amount.
Some combinations are milk and cereal, peanut butter and bread, beans and rice, beans and corn tortillas, and macaroni and
Vegetarian Does Not Have To Be All or Nothing
By Melanie Mendelson
people contemplate becoming a vegetarian at one point or another. Some consider a meatless diet because they feel sorry for
the animals. Others think a vegetarian way of eating will improve their health.
However, out of those well-intentioned
people very few actually follow through and change their way of eating. The idea of completely giving up meat forms a big
stumbling block for most.
For some reason, when it comes to vegetarian cooking, most people only see the "extremist"
approach: either give up meat completely or you might as well include the meat in every meal. This "all or nothing" thinking
becomes a mental barrier that keeps a lot of people from eating more vegetarian meals.
How about finding a happy medium?
Drastic changes to one's diet never last. Do not beat yourself up for eating meat. There is no need to give it up completely.
Just try eating a little less of it, that's all.
Start right now by making one meatless dinner every week. Keep everything
else the same. Eating just one vegetarian dinner every week is definitely doable and easy. It will be just a nice change instead
If you think going meatless one day a week would not make a big difference, consider these simple
numbers: if everyone ate vegetarian meals just one day a week, it would save one out of seven animals. Out of 92 million animals
that are consumed in the United States alone every year, over 13 million animals would be spared. This is a huge impact!
addition to doing good for our planet, you'll enjoy great health benefits by including more fruits and vegetables in your
diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, nutrients, anti-oxidants and fiber - all the things that are good for us.
They can help with weight loss and prevent diseases. Numerous studies show that diets high in fruits and vegetables reduce
the risks of deadly diseases such as cancer, heart attack and stroke.
Also, by trying out new dishes, you will break
your food routine and discover new tasty recipes and food combinations. It's really nice to eat something different once in
a while instead of being stuck in a food rut.
This simple shift of mindset from "all or nothing" to a happy middle
ground will do wonders. Vegetarian eating does not need to be a full-time commitment, sacrifice and strive for unattainable
perfection. Just do what you can to eat a little less meat, have fun trying new vegetarian meals and enjoy the benefits.
"Nothing will benefit human health & increase
chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
What is a Vegetarian?
- Vegetarians don't eat meat, fish & poultry.
- Vegans are vegetarians who abstain from eating
or using all animal products, including milk, cheese, other dairy items, eggs, wool, silk & leather.
Among the many reasons for being a vegetarian
- religious concerns
- dislike of meat
- compassion for animals
- belief in non-violence
The American Dietetic Association has affirmed
that a vegetarian diet can meet all known nutrient needs. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet, as w/any other diet, is to
eat a wide variety of foods, including:
- plenty of leafy greens
- whole grain products
Limit your intake of sweets & fatty foods.
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Making the Change to a Vegetarian Diet
Many people become vegetarian instantly. They
totally give up meat, fish & poultry overnight. Others make the change gradually. Do what works best for you.
Being a vegetarian is as hard or
as easy as you choose to make it. Some people enjoy planning & preparing elaborate meals, while others opt for quick &
easy vegetarian dishes.
Protein: Vegetarians easily meet their protein needs by eating a varied diet, as long as they consume
enough calories to maintain their weight.
It's not necessary to plan combinations of foods.
A mixture of proteins throughout the day will provide enough "essential amino acids." (See Position of The American Dietetic Association:
Vegetarian Diets, JADA, November, 1997 & "A Vegetarian Sourcebook" by Keith
Akers, Vegetarian Press, 1993.)
Good protein sources are: (just
as stated on the left in the article)
- low-fat dairy products
- whole grain bread
Good iron sources are:
- dried beans
- beet greens
- blackstrap molasses
- prune juice
- dried fruit
are all good sources of iron. To increase the
amount of iron absorbed at a meal eat a food containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruit or juices, tomato, or broccoli. Cooking
food in iron cookware also adds to iron intake.
Good calcium sources are:
- collard greens
- low fat dairy products
- turnip greens
- tofu prepared w/calcium
- fortified soy milk
all contain high quantities of calcium.
The adult recommended intake for vitamin B12
is very low. Vitamin B12 comes primarily from animal-derived foods. A diet containing dairy products or eggs provides adequate vitamin B12.
Fortified foods, such as some brands of cereal, nutritional yeast, soy milk, or soy analogs, are good non-animal sources. Check labels to discover
other products that are fortified w/vitamin B12.
Tempeh & sea vegetables may contain vitamin B12, but their content varies & may be unreliable.
To be on the safe side, if you're
one of the few people who don't consume dairy products, eggs, or fortified foods regularly, you can take a non-animal derived
supplement. Much research still needs to be done on vitamin B12 needs & sources.
Children & Vegetarianism
According to The American Dietetic Association,
vegetarian diets can meet all nitrogen needs & amino acid requirements for growth. A vegan diet, to be on the safe side,
should be well planned & probably include fortified soy milk.