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Eating Vegetarian: For the Good of your Health and Conscience

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • When eating a vegetarian diet, emphasis should be placed on eating fresh fruits and vegetables to increase vitamin C intake, which can help the body absorb the iron it needs.
  • When people give up eating meat, in either the short or long-term, it may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, so it is recommended that proteins be consumed in the form of naturally grown products such as soybeans, nuts, cereals and grains.

 

Eating a vegetarian diet means giving up all kinds of meat, and instead turning to crops and vegetables for food. This change means that the stomach gets a break from digesting meat, whilst retaining important vitamin intake. Furthermore, the proteins that vegetarians take on in the form of nuts are different to the proteins that we get from eating meat. The time spent eating a vegetarian diet can therefore be viewed as a period when the stomach has a rest from digesting the nutrients in meat which are difficult for it to break down.

Every day, more and more people are choosing a vegetarian diet. People are also eating out more often, but are finding that the ingredients used in vegetarian restaurants where they eat are usually transformed from their original forms to increase the flavor of the food. Sometimes the smell and feel of the food is similar to meat which means the food has had flavor enhancing chemicals and preservatives added to it. Some products may even be contaminated with fungus. Aside from these issues, the main component of those vegetarian dishes are carbohydrates and often the food contains large amounts of oil too. Consequently, if vegetarian food is consumed without reference to consumer standards, it can lead to health issues. As a result, before beginning a vegetarian diet, various factors should be considered to acquire the necessary information regarding the type of food eaten so as to ensure that the new vegetarian diet is as beneficial to health as possible.

Choosing the right food for a vegetarian diet

  • Vegetables should form the mainstay of any vegetarian diet. Selecting fresh fruits and vegetables will aid the body by providing the much needed iron. Eat vegetables and produce that are high in iron such as spinach, peanuts, runner beans or string beans, and some types of mushroom. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables not only aids the body by providing iron, but these foods are also high in fiber, which can make you feel full quite quickly.
  • Carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation with brown rice preferable to white rice, and wholemeal bread to white bread.
  • Short or long-term abstinence from meat may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency so it is recommended that proteins be consumed in the form of crops such as soybeans, nuts, cereals and grains.
  • Avoid foods which are high in fats and oils, and reduce meals that are shallow or deep fried. If you cook your own food, then use cooking oils which are not full of fatty acids. Try to use good oils, such as tea seed oil, canola oil or olive oil.
  • Choose dishes that are made by stewing, boiling, roasting, steaming or mixing raw ingredients. However, be careful that the food is not cooked for an extended period of time as this can lead to a reduction in the nutrients of the food such as when vegetables are over cooked through excessive boiling. These types of food too should be consumed in moderation.
  • Choose fruits which do not have too much natural sugar. Try to pick rose apples, guavas and dragon fruit.
  • Avoid any foods that are high in sugar or salt. Eating salty foods in particular is bad for the kidneys as the amount of sodium present causes the organ to work harder than usual.
  • Choose healthy foods to snack on.

Aside from providing the body with the requisite nutrients, eating the correct vegetarian diet has multiple benefits for our bodies. Eating healthy vegetarian food along with exercising regularly and resting appropriately can help us to feel physically great as well as improve our mental well-being.


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