NUTRITION COLUMN: A non-meat eater by any other name...
The nutrition column is part of a series which appears infrequently in The Gazette. Alyssa Newman, a fourth-year science student majoring in nutrition, discusses health issues revolving around diet. Any questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
More and more people today are becoming vegetarians. With proper instruction, a vegan diet is very healthful, low in fat and high in fiber and nutrients. This type of diet can help lower blood cholesterol and fat levels, and thus lessen the risk of developing heart disease, some types of cancers, and can help to lower high blood pressure.
In a 1991 Gallup poll conducted for the National Restaurant Association, researchers found that 19 per cent of restaurant eaters look for restaurants that offer vegetarian choices and 34 per cent said that they are more likely to choose non-meat entrees if possible.
Vegetarians fall into several categories. A vegan will eat only grains, fruits and vegetables. An ovo-vegetarian will eat grains, fruits, vegetables and eggs. A lacto-vegetarian consumes grains, fruits, vegetables plus dairy products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and eggs. Pescetarians will eat grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs and fish. A nouveau vegetarian will eat grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, fish and chicken. Omnivores will eat anything. No matter which style of vegetarianism you choose it is important to get good nutrition.
By eliminating animal or dairy products from your diet, your food choices become narrowed. Certain nutrients are only found in meat products and therefore it may be a challenge to ensure you are getting adequate nutrients. A multi-vitamin, iron and/or vitamin B12 supplement may need to be consumed by some vegetarians. A consultation with a dietician or physician is imperative before consuming supplements though.
Here are some tips to ensure you are making wise food choices. It is important to substitute animal products with legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds to obtain adequate amounts of protein. Combining legumes plus grains, or legumes plus nut/seeds at a meal will provide you with complete protein. Some examples of legumes are: kidney beans, chick peas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. Grain products include: barley, oats, corn, rice and wheat. Nuts and seeds include: almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and cashews. An example of combining legumes and grains is a peanut butter sandwich.
Aside from meat products, vitamin B12 can only be found in fortified soy milk or supplements. Food sources rich in iron include, soybeans, dried beans, tofu, dark green vegetables, dried fruits, fortified milk, pasta and cereals. Calcium and vitamin D are also important nutrients you need in your diet. Sources of these nutrients can be found in soybeans, milk and fortified soy milk, dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Before becoming a vegetarian it is important to obtain the proper instruction and remember that the body needs proper nutrition to keep on running.