Animal based food is extensively used in many countries to prepare different dishes and plant based products are used to enhance the texture, appearance and taste of the non vegetarian food. The common perception in these countries that vegetarian food lacks essential nutrients like proteins, fats, calcium etc. and therefore when one tries to take up a vegetarian diet then many questions arise in his or her mind. Here is the list of 12 Frequently Asked Questions about the Vegetarian Diet.
What is vegetarian diet?
It is simply a diet which doesn’t include animal and products derived from animals like eggs, milk, fish, other aquatic organisms and poultry. Vegetarian diet is divided into four classes which are
- Lacto vegetarian diet which includes only milk and milk derived products
- Lacto ovo vegetarian diet includes eggs and dairy products along with plant based food
- Ovo vegetarian diet includes eggs only, no dairy products
- Vegan diet strictly forbids meat, eggs, poultry, fish, sea food, milk and other dairy products
Why should I take up vegetarian diet?
There are many reasons for taking up a vegetarian diet such as
- This dietary approach will prevent many meat related diseases like cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and kidney stones.
- Veg diet helps in improving stamina, concentration and provides a sense of well being. According to a study, three times improvement has been noticed in athletes who have taken up veg diet as compared to their carnivorous counterparts.
- You can significantly reduce the toxin level in the body by taking up veg diet because raw or processed animal meat contains contaminants such as hormones, parasites, herbicides and pesticides, and antibiotics.
- We are designed to eat vegetarian which has been proven by the fact that we have flat teeth for grinding grains unlike carnivorous that have sharp teeth for flesh tearing purpose. Besides that we have enzymes to digest complex carbohydrates found in plant based food.
- You can save the environment by not killing animals for food. Every animal has a distinct role in nature and we are disrupting the natural mechanism by killing the key elements.
- This is ethical to let animals live their life
How should I start if I am becoming vegetarian?
This is not rocket science to try vegetarian food. All you need is to gather information about vegetarian food which is readily available on net and books. Try GoVeg.com or findhealthtips.com to start a healthy eating. These sites will provide vegetarian eating tips, recipes and diet plan to make you fit and healthy. Here are some tips to start your vegetarian journey:
- Make your list of simple vegetarian recipes and try one recipe a week.
- It is not good to jump on the veg diet at once; do it slowly or at your own pace.
- Use meatless substitutes of main ingredients of your usual recipes like use Bocca or morning star instead of ground beef, tofu instead of cheese etc.
- You can increase eggs and dairy product intake in your diet along with fruits and salads.
- Plan and cook the vegetarian dish so that when you crave for meat or other non vegetarian food, you can eat the vegetarian alternative.
Do I have to restock my fridge?
Yes, you have to shop for meatless alternatives, vegetables and fruits instead of chicken, pork, and beef. You can buy convenience food which is easily available in the frozen food section of the supermarket. This can be bit expensive but it is always good to have some ready to eat vegetarian food in your fridge. You can also buy fresh veggies and fruits from the local markets.
How costly vegetarian food items will be?
The answer is not more than the cost of your meat products. Seasonal veggie and fruits in the local markets are generally available on reasonable rates and sometimes at cheaper price. For example, you can well stock your fridge with veg stuff in cost of 1 kg chicken or mutton.
How does it taste?
Many vegetarian dishes are very delicious; you can try Indian and Middle Eastern vegetarian cuisines. Becoming vegetarian is an opportunity to relish new taste in a healthy way. If you are not confident on making the dishes then you can try them out in vegetarian restaurants.
Is vegetarian diet safe for children?
It is absolutely safe and healthy for child at any stages such as during pregnancy, infancy and childhood. Plant based diet provides essential nutrients to expecting mother, nursing mothers and growing children. A vegetarian diet offers a wide range of nutritious food for your growing child and it will positively affect your child’s health.
Do vegetarian provide enough protein?
We all know that protein is essential for growth, development, maintenance and repairing of tissue in the body. Vegetarian diet is fully capable of meeting your daily protein requirements. The protein rich vegetarian sources are legumes, beans, lentils, vegetables and soy products which are easily available in grocery stores.
Is not plant based food deficient in fats?
It’s a total myth and you will be surprised to know that the richest sources of good fat i.e. unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids are found in plant based food such as nuts, seeds and oils. Vegetarian diet doesn’t provide pre-formed DHA therefore you can take supplements of DHA.
Can vegetarian diet lead to nutrient deficiency?
Only vegan diet can pose a little risk of nutrient deficiency but other form of vegetarian diet provides full range of nutrients. You can take vitamin B12 fortified food such as tempeh, cereals, or brewer’s yeast, or take B-12 supplements to meet the requirement of vitamin B12. Zinc deficiency is another possibility for vegans but this element can be easily found in grains, wheat germ, seeds, soy foods, dairy products, and multi-mineral supplements. Don’t get afraid because it will take years to develop vitamin or mineral deficiency after becoming vegan.
What about calcium in vegetarian food?
If you are sticking to first three forms of vegetarian diet (refer first question of the article) then you will have more than enough calcium in your food and even if you choose vegan approach then also you have variety of calcium rich options like soy products, tofu, green leafy veggies and fruits.
How long it take to prepare vegetarian food?
Some vegetarian items like salad, spaghetti, soups, juice and vegetables take very less time to prepare and some are ready to eat like nuts, seeds, fruits etc. you can also use them as snacks by boiling or roasting them.