Three weeks ago, I started on the vegetarian diet. Everything went fine, but my relatives argued that it may be unhealty if I'm not informed about it well enough.
Could someone explain to me which foods do I have to eat that substitute for meat diet?
You don't have to substitute. There are no different "dire" consequences than if you ate a standard meat diet. If you eat Junk food you will still be susceptible to the diseases that all Americans who eat poorly are. Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc.
Vegetarian does not mean healthy. The only think you have to do to make it healthy is to eat whole plants, grains, fruits, etc and lots of them. There is no need to substitute anything for meat.
It is not so much about the lack of meat
It is really about the presence of quality foods in you diet.
I could eat only cheese pizza and drink beer, and I would be a vegetarian
Do some searching on this site, and on google and you will find more reading than you will ever have time to take in.
One quick thing to be careful of is you will need to make sure you are supplementing your B-12 vitamin, and also your Omega Oils.
you need to supplement a vegetarian diet
You need to supplement a vegan diet with B12, zinc, maybe calcium, perhaps iron and possibly some other things like sulfur.
You need protein so being aware of how seeds and nuts compliment grains, for example, is helpful to be mindful of when eating or planning meals. Animal protein is complete protein but only a few vegan sources are complete protein. So making the right combos of incomplete proteins will make your choices work better for you.
B12 and just get enough protein from mixing beans and rice to make a complete protein.
FYI, months ago I had a few blood tests and my levels were fine. I've been vegan since late 2006. I'm having another blood test soon, and will report back if my results are dire. The good thing is that if your results are dire, your body tends to show it. Often just looking at yourself and observing how you feel is a great way to tell how healthy you really are. Just don't tell the companies that fund healthy studies and the pharmaceutical companies that.
@Aleksander - I'm going to guess from your name that you are of Eastern European descent. I know from experience that culture really can't imagine being healthy without eating meat. My Polish grandmother was terrified that I would get sick from lack of meat (actually, I think she was convinced that I would die *immediately* lol!)
The key is to be a real vegetarian, not a junk food vegetarian. I knew several people in college who called themselves vegatarians who lived on a steady diet of Doritos, pizza and white bagels.
Eat real food that comes from plants as the basis of your diet. Stick to whole grains and if you're going to eat cheese & eggs, find quality sources that are free of hormones and antibiotics. Variety is your friend. If you do that, you'll be just fine.
I've been a vegetarian for about 15 yrs now. Never had any health problem related to food (other than loving to eat a little too much...LOL). My cholesterol is excellent, even for my age & weight. I love being veg and I don't miss meat at all. I'd like to be vegan but I'm still sorting out how to make it work.
I think you'll find that there is a resistance to going veg because our culture puts such emphasis on meat. I bet they say "where do you get your protein from?" :) The whole protein thing is grossly exaggerated. You can get the proteins you need as long as you're eating a balanced diet (especially if you're doing eggs or dairy). Vegetarians has been advised to eat complimentary foods to get their complete protein needs, but recently some people are saying we don't even have to eat the complimentary foods at the same meal. It's important to eat a balanced diet (which is true even if you do eat meat).
The main thing you may lack is B12, but you can get it from eggs and milk if you aren't totally vegan. If you're vegan, check out nutritional yeast. Some people worry about iron, but if you're eating right you're getting iron from green leafy veggies and other sources.
A good multi-vitamin may be a good idea, especially in the beginning as you're learning more about food & adjusting your diet. I've been doing this 15 yrs and I'm still learning new things about nutrition & food every day.
I agree with the others who said be careful not to be a junk-food vegetarian. It really is easy to slip into that habit, especially when so many restaurants & frozen dinners 'contaminate' many entrees with meat, meat broth, fish paste, etc. They tend to think vegetarians should be eating a big cheese pizza and some iceburg lettuce. You may be surprised how many foods have animal in them. Even McDonald's french fries are coated in animal products!
Best of luck to you!
i'm vegan and i use supplements sometimes, but only because i have some around and i hate to waste. i've been vegan 3 1/2 years or so and vegetarian for 14.
anyway. just be sure you're getting a nice variety of stuff. veggies and fruits of different colors and some healthy carbs and you can have beans and tofu and tempeh and seitan. my fav vegan site with tons of recipes and ideas and pics of food to inspire you is Post Punk Kitchen Forums: Show us your mitts!
also, lots of cheeses aren't even vegetarian (they have rennet - from animal stomachs!) so beware of that.
Thank you all for your great replies, especially the quoted one... It sounds great that after all, no substitues for meats are required.
All the cheeses that contain rennet, which is a bile from calves' stomach. The calve is killed to collect rennet, therefore it's not vegetarian. All French cheeses labelled AOC contain rennet, for example.
this site has some helpful info
Most of the iron in a vegetarian diet is non-heme iron which has a relatively low absorption rate (2-20%) compared with heme iron (15-35%) (44).
For example, an athlete who consumes milk or tea with beans at lunch could be advised to replace this beverage with citrus fruit juice to enhance iron absorption at that meal (44).
Source Dietary Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association.
I think total homocysteine (tHCY) levels can be an excellent indication of your chance of getting a serious health problem like heart disease or cancer. B12 is only one nutrient important for proper methylation (which is how your tHCY levels stay in range).
I know my tHCY levels are in range.
Biochemists who have studied methylation and the problems that high (or too low) tHCY can cause have advocated nutritional supplements to ward off diseases that eventually be fatal. It is a fact that faulty methylation can lead to hypermethylation or hypomethylation which is how gene expression is turned on.
This study says vegetarians had higher tHCY levels than controls.
Conclusion: Vegetarian subjects presented significantly higher tHcy levels, higher prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia, and lower serum vitamin B12 levels than controls.
B12 is an important B vitamin.
Wines and beers are another which have animals products added without clearly saying so on the label:
- edible gelatin (made from bones)
- isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish)
- casein and potassium caseinate (milk proteins) (Note: glues may also have this)
- animal albumin (egg)
Jello and marshmallows are also gelatin based.
Even vitamins are often coated in a gelatin capsule.
It's hard sometimes to go through life without using at least some animal laced products. The thing I learned is to not drive myself crazy worrying about the tiniest things, such as if the rubber in the soles of my shoes were produced using animal products. The important thing is that I'm removing as many of the animal products as humanly possible. Every dish you make without animal in it, is a life saved. One of my main beliefs : every meat-free choice you make does count. Don't kill yourself over one or two little mistakes; do pat yourself on the back for all the meals & choices you did make right.
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