As people are becoming more conscious about what they put into their bodies, many are eating vegetarian. There are many benefits to removing meat from the diet, but if it’s not done correctly, it can be detrimental to your health. By eliminating complete proteins, you can deprive the body of essential nutrients. This can lead to muscular damage and nerve failure. Eating vegetarian can be healthy, as long as you’re giving the body everything it needs.
For vegetarians who give up dairy, the ADA recommends at least 1000mg of calcium (equivalent to 3 cups of milk.) Calcium can be found in alternative dairy products, such as almond milk, (beware of brands that contain high sugar contents) and dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and bok choy.
B-12 deficiency is common in vegetarians. B-12 is important for the performance of nerve cells, and speeds neural transmissions, which helps with brain function. It is also important for the reproduction of healthy cells. Naturally, B-12 can only be found in animal products. This vitamin can be taken orally, but is most effective when administered via shots.
Some people think that giving up meat means giving up protein. Whole grains, such as barley, farro, and especially quinois, are high in protein, as are beans, nuts and seeds. Vegetarian proteins can sometimes be tasteless. Cooking them in a savory vegetable broth, or combining them with flavorful dressings can make them more palatable.
Iron, which is mainly found in red meat, is needed for the production of red blood cells, and helps convert blood sugar into energy. A lack of iron leads to anemia, and can trigger a breakdown in the immune system. Dark green vegetables, especially kale, are high in iron. Eating foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges, berries and peppers, help the body quickly absorb iron into the bloodstream.
A vegetarian diet can be rewarding, as long as your nutritional needs are being met, even if by supplements. It’s important to consult a doctor or a nutritionist before committing to giving up meat. It also helps to buy a good vegetarian cookbook.