Years ago vegetarian diets were few and far between . Now more people are jumping on the vegetarian bandwagon, creating all different eating types:Semi-vegetarian: includes everything except red meat
Pesco vegetarian: includes everything except red meat and poultry
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: includes milk products and eggs but no meat, poultry or fish
Lacto vegetarian: includes milk but no eggs, meat, poultry or fish
Vegan: no animal products
Myth: It is hard to eat enough protein on a vegetarian diet .
Truth:Vegetarian diets usually supply enough protein . Tofu, soybean products, soy milk, legumes and peanut butter all supply a good amount of protein . The vegetarian needs to consume these sources of protein rather than just eating grains, fruit and vegetables to ensure adequate protein and nutrient intake .
Myth:Vegetarians need to eat complimentary proteins together at the same meal .
Truth:Vegetarian sources of protein (except soybeans) are incomplete proteins . In other words they are missing one or more of the essential amino acids . However, different vegetable proteins can be combined to make complete proteins . Legumes combined with grains
(beans and rice, peanut butter sandwich), and legumes with seeds (bean salad with walnuts) make complete proteins . In the past, vegetarians were told to combine these proteins at each meal . Now we know that they can be eaten hours apart or much later in the day and still be effective . Eating a variety of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and soybean products will give the vegetarian a full complement of amino acids .
Myth: Vegetarian diets are healthier than meat-eaters’ diets .
Truth: Research does seem to indicate that a vegetarian diet may offer protection against obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive disorders and some forms of cancer . However it depends on which form the vegetarian diet takes . One that is high in fatty snacks and sweets and deficient in nutrients in unlikely to offer the same benefits . Likewise, a non-vegetarian diet that includes small amounts of lean meat, chicken and fish with lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables can provide many of the same advantages .
Myth: Vegetarian diets provide all essential nutrients .
Truth: A well-planned vegetarian diet can provide you with enough of all the nutrients except vitamin B12 that is found almost exclusively in animal products . If you exclude all animal products it’s a good idea to take a B12 supplement (1 to 2 mcg per day) or drink fortified soy milk (check the label) .
Myth:Vegetarians do not need to be concerned with consuming enough vitamins and minerals .
Truth: The nutrients of concern in a vegan diet are vitamins B12, B2 (riboflavin), D, calcium, iron and zinc . For those who do not include milk products regularly iron and zinc may be lacking .
Riboflavin: sources include milk products, eggs, legumes, tofu, broccoli, almonds, peas, sweet potato, asparagus, raspberries and strawberries .
Vitamin D: mainly found in milk . Your skin also synthesizes it from exposure to summer sunlight . If you avoid milk and have limited sun exposure you may need a vitamin D supplement of 100 to 400 IU per day .
Calcium: mainly found in milk products . Other sources include tofu made with calcium, fortified soy milk, canned salmon with bones, broccoli and legumes . Even so, it’s hard to get enough calcium every day from these foods, with one exception . Two to three cups of soy milk fortified with calcium provides you with enough . Without milk products or fortified soy milk in your diet you’ll probably need a calcium supplement .
Iron: found in vegetarian foods . However, it is absorbed best from meat, poultry and fish . Other sources include whole grains and enriched cereals, cream of wheat, legumes, tofu, dried fruit, eggs, potato with skin, peas and broccoli . Vegetarians should include a citrus fruit with greens to enhance their absorption of non-heme iron . Try squeezing lemon juice or add orange slices to a spinach salad .
Zinc: meat and chicken, tofu, legumes, wheat germ and peas are good sources (refer to Vitamins, Minerals & Phytochemicals in this Section for more information on supplements) .
Myth:Vegetarians can rely on cheese and peanut butter for their nutrients of concern .
Truth: If you are a vegetarian you still need two to three servings a day from the meat and alternatives group of Canada’s Food Guide . Vegetarian sources include fish, eggs, tofu or other soybean products, legumes (like chickpeas and lentils), peanut butter, nuts and seeds
and cheese . But do not rely on peanut butter and cheese for your protein everyday . You need to include tofu or other soybean products and/or legumes daily to balance your diet .
Soybean Products To Try
Tofu: white in colour, available soft or firm . It is bland but absorbs flavours from sauces you cook it in . Use firm tofu in a stir-fry, throw it in chili and marinate it in your favourite sauce and grill .
Soy milk: fortified soy milk provides more nutrients than other soy milks . Use on cereal, drink straight from a glass or make hot chocolate from it .
Meat substitutes (soybean burgers, tofu wieners and deli slices): use as regular burgers or hotdogs and to make sandwiches .
Textured vegetable protein: resembles ground beef when hydrated and is available in dried granules or chunks . Use in chili and pasta sauce .
Tempeh: Tender, chewy cake of soybeans mixed with a grain and has a rich flavour . It can be steamed and marinated in barbecue sauce then grilled, or chunks can be added to pasta sauce or chili .
Legumes—Upping Your IntakeYou can buy dried legumes to be cooked later or canned for convenience . Just drain and rinse and they are ready to eat .
mix chick peas or black eyed peas into pasta sauce
use chick peas to make hummus or throw them into a stirfry canned soups with legumes and bean salads in a can are ready-made meals
keep low-fat refried beans on hand to make burritos using flour tortillas add chick peas, black beans or kidney beans to soups or to the tops of salads
• buy bean dip for pita bread or crackers
• baked beans on toast makes a quick meal
Phytoestrogens And Health
The diet of the Asian population has prompted interest in the health benefits of soybeans . The theory is that the lower incidence of breast cancer, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, menopause symptoms and heart disease in Asia may have something to do with their high intake of soy products .
Phytoestrogens, the natural compounds that are predominant in soybeans and soy-based foods, are being linked to these health benefits . Research is ongoing, but in the meantime, soy foods are still considered a healthy addition to the diet