“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” ~Albert Einstein
As people strive to improve their health and evolve their food choices to a more plant-based diet, it is easy to get lost along the way. You can happily end up living on chocolate whole-wheat croissants for breakfast, cheese pizza for lunch and a large bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner; but the pounds will eventually stack up as your energy declines. When you transition to a more vegetarian way of eating it is important to educate yourself about the nutrients your body will need on a daily basis.
Learn how to create a balance of vegetable protein, carbohydrates and quality fats with each meal. You must also replace the six essential nutrients provided by animal proteins with plant-based foods containing the protein, iron, zinc, calcium, B12, and Essential Fatty Acids that are reduced with the elimination of meat, poultry, pork and fish. The fun part is putting them together into delicious recipes and then chewing slowly for the full satisfying experience.
A crucial part of any diet, the average RDA for women is 45 grams and for men 55 grams, which you can easily consume in the form of:
NOTE: Pseudo-meats and other pretend protein foods should be avoided if possible, as they are highly processed foods with a list of ingredients as long as my arm. In an article by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. they write that, “Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption; test animals fed soy protein isolate develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.”
2, 3. IRON AND ZINC
Strong, healthy blood requires proper amounts of Iron and a vegetarian diet can provide plenty. Average RDA for woman 19-50 years is 18mg, women 51+ years is 8mg and adult male is 8mg.
Because the human body does not store Zinc, it is essential to obtain it from the food you eat. Zinc is responsible for cellular metabolism, immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. The RDA for adult women is 8mg and for men is 11mg.
In a nutshell, your body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and teeth, and for your nervous system to function properly. The RDA for adults is 1000-1200mg and can be found in a variety of foods, such as:
5. VITAMIN B12
Vegans and vegetarians who do not eat eggs or dairy will need to take this essential nutrient in the form of a B complex supplement that includes the RDA for B12 of 1.5 microgram for adults. Fermented soy, shitake mushrooms, sea vegetables and algae contain something similar to B12, but it does not work in the body in the same way as B12 from animal sources. Some nutritional yeast food products contain some Vitamin B12.
6. ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
The body needs quality fats to help absorb the ‘fat soluble’ vitamins A, D, E and K, to regulate cholesterol, provide energy, maintain heart health and a number of other important functions. Saturated fats from animal sources is limited in a vegetarian diet, but hydrogenated and trans fats in baked goods and chips should be avoided for their harmful health effects. Recommended RDA for Omega Fatty Acids is 1-2 tablespoons.
I take a multivitamin pill when I remember (like once or twice a week) so I'm covered when it comes to vitamin B12. I took vitamins every once in a while too when I was carnivorous.
For the rest, I eat all of that stuff in the article :-)
"NOTE: Pseudo-meats and other pretend protein foods should be avoided if possible, as they are highly processed foods with a list of ingredients as long as my arm. In anarticle by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. they write that, “Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption; test animals fed soy protein isolate develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.”
I found that note rather informative, never realized the problems associated with Phytic acid. Who knew? Good thing I rarely eat the stuff, don't like it to begin with. Hmmm, maybe I should make my own veggie burgers and freeze them now that I think of it...
There are other fake meats who do not have soy.I personally like the field roast brand, the ingredient list is not too long at all.
These are my favorite, the Apple sage "sausages"
Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed safflower oil, non- sulphered dried apples, yukon gold potatoes, natu- rally flavored yeast extract, onion powder, barley malt, garlic, natural hickory smoke flavor with torula yeast, sea salt, spices and rubbed sage
I doubt that eating fake meat once in a while will hurt you any more than eating meat. Tofurky has a total of 6 ingredients plus spices, so not sure about the "long as my arm" quote, but would have to look at that some more. I make fake sausages when I'm at home now, and I'm not seeing how that can be bad for you. Is vital wheat gluten bad as well? The rest of the ingredients are all natural.
Sometimes it doesn't appear that anything is good for you. Your veggies are dripping in chemicals, fruits the same. Pull a potato out of the ground it is toxic.
The more I read these types of articles the more I'm thinking I should go back to eating anything I want, since none of it is good for me.
I confess that I have the same reflex when I read these articles. It seems that the only good thing to eat is nothing at all.
Of course it's best to cook everything from scratch, but sometimes that's just not practical. I see nothing wrong with eating some processed food once or twice a week.
For me at least, I doubt that not eating meat will impact how long I live, or even how ill I'll become in old age - I do it for the animals. I have trouble killing a mouse, or even a spider... It's gotten that bad.
I think that avoiding as many meat products as possible, will give you a longer healthier life. Perhaps not, but the odds will at least be more in your favor.
I still don't have that animal obligation built in as strong as you Sydni. If I'm hungry, and the only thing available contains meat, I'm eating it. =(
Still though, I read these articles about how bad a vegetarian food product might be for you, then I read an article about salmon being a superfood and awesome for your health. I eat what I eat for health reasons, so guess should start eating some seafood.
Cut out dairy and you'll be healthier! (Give up cheese????? oh- NO!!!)
I am aware of the salmon population, buy pacific, you can't go wrong. Find me an article that states salmon is bad for you. If you would live years longer eating salmon, are you saying you would sacrifice yourself for the cute little guys?
This is going to be derailed quickly. =)
You've already derailed it :-))
It's very difficult to interpret all the info out there regarding what is good or bad to eat. Salmon (like other fish) contain mercury, PCBs, dioxin and other chemicals, result of our oceans being polluted. I never liked salmon anyway so for me it's a moot point. I will not eat something I dislike, even if it's good for me.
You can check PubMed, type "salmon" and "mercury" for example. a lot of articles pop-up, even involving Pacific species such as sockeye.
I think following Pollan's advice is the best we can do at this point: "Eat food. Not too much of it. Mostly plants."
Would it be immoral to sacrifice your years on a planet to save a fish, or would it be more of a moral dilemma to eat the fish?