|Studies have shown that, on average, vegetarians have a lower risk of
obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes than meat
Posted: 9/2/2010 3:59:38 AM
Vegetarians live on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and eggs.
They don’t eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea
(such as crab or lobster), or animal by-products (such as gelatine).
There are three main types of vegetarian:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
- Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs.
- Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product.
Many vegetarians, as long as they eat a balanced diet, are as healthy as, if not healthier than, the general population
A vegetarian diet is suitable for everyone regardless of their age, although dietitians do not recommend an entirely vegan diet for infants and young children.
All children between six months and five years, regardless of their diet, are recommended to take vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D. You can buy these at any pharmacy/drug store.
It’s also important to take extra care during pregnancy and breastfeeding to make sure you and your baby are getting enough vitamin D and B12. See Pregnancy and children.
While there’s no harm in switching to a vegetarian diet overnight, you may prefer to do it gradually. Some people give up red meat first, then poultry, then fish.
Others eat vegetarian food one day a week at first, then two or three days, and eventually every day. Do it in a way that suits you.
Get a vegetarian cookbook or look up recipes online. Whether you need simple step-by-step instructions or can follow more complex recipes, there are enough options for a vegetarian diet to give you plenty of variety.
Being a vegetarian is also a way of life and an opportunity to take a fresh look at food. Visit your local supermarket and health-food shop and get to know as many different vegetarian foods as possible, including meat alternatives.
If you’ve grown up eating meat, you'll have to change some of your habits. The easiest way to stay healthy is to learn what your body needs.
To avoid any embarrassment when friends are cooking for you, remember to let them know in advance that you are a vegetarian.
The main healthy eating guidelines for vegetarians are the same as for everybody else.
A healthy diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains such as wheat and rice (preferably wholegrain), moderate amounts of foods containing protein and dairy products, and only a small amount of foods containing fat and sugar.
Common nutritional deficiencies in vegetarian and vegan diets include vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron.
Vitamin D is generated by sunlight on our skin. If you don't go outside much or if you have dark skin, you should include fortified margarine or spreads and fortified breakfast cereals in your diet and take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin B12, which helps the body grow and repair itself, is mainly found in meat, fish and dairy products. To get enough vitamin B12, try to eat fortified breakfast cereal, soya foods or yeast extract regularly.
Most vegetarians do not need to take food supplements as long as they eat a balanced diet. But getting the balance right can be more difficult for vegans.Because they don’t eat dairy products, vegans need to plan their diet carefully to ensure they get enough vitamin B12.
If you eat the right foods in the right proportions with plenty of variety, you shouldn’t have any problems achieving a healthy, balanced diet.