vegetarianism

The vegetarian diet is based on the philosopher Pythagoras and includes the doctrine that humans should use exclusively or predominantly food of plant origin as food. There are different forms of vegetarian nutrition. There are also different reasons for vegetarianism and the advantages and disadvantages of this type of diet.

Forms of vegetarianism

A distinction is made between different forms of vegetarianism, which can be differentiated according to the proportion of permitted animal foods as well as the type and preparation of the vegetarian diet:

  • Ovo-lacto vegetarians do not eat meat / fish, but eggs and dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarians eat no meat, no fish and no eggs.
  • Vegans feed exclusively on herbal products.

Reasons for vegetarian diet

Being vegetarian or being vegetarian does not just mean having a special diet, but ultimately a lifestyle as well. Vegetarians do not form a unified group of people because the reasons, forms and goals of their diet are quite different:

  • On the one hand, health aspects play an important role for vegetarians and are also used as a therapeutic measure for civilization diseases, eg. B. Overweight used. If they start early enough, they can sometimes even prevent them.
  • From a nutritional point of view, by a largely meat-free diet, the fat and protein intake is reduced, which also benefits the health, as most people absorb too much of these nutrients and thus long-term danger of civilization diseases such. As diabetes, gout, lipid metabolism disorders, etc. to fall ill.
  • Other reasons for vegetarianism are z. For example, there is a desire to reduce pollutant intake through targeted food choices or ecological reasons for conserving nature's natural resources.
  • Motivations for vegetarianism can also be of a religious as well as ethical nature (animals do not kill for human existence) or simply be able to smell the intolerance of meat.

nutrient composition

A diet where you omit meat, but can not be automatically healthy. Those who, as vegetarians, misconstrue their food, risk deficiency symptoms and problems with absorption and digestion of nutrients. However, with a varied vegetarian diet, many vegetarians are in better health than "meat eaters." The key ingredients of a vegetarian diet are:

  • Water - Adequate hydration of at least 1.5 liters of water is one of the basic requirements for mental and physical vitality.
  • Fruits and vegetables - eat at least 500g daily, as it contains lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Cereal products and potatoes contain many carbohydrates. They should also be on the daily diet, as they strongly match the vegetarian diet and, unlike fat, are significantly lower in calories.
  • Milk and dairy products contain a lot of calcium and protein, but also a lot of fat and cholesterol. Therefore, low-fat milk or dairy products should be preferred.
  • Eggs and legumes - eggs provide high quality protein, vitamin B12 and D. Legumes provide protein and fiber.
  • Vegetable oils and vegetable fats - From a nutritional point of view, these fats are more valuable than animal fats because they contain valuable unsaturated fatty acids that have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Fats always provide a lot of energy, but they also have a lot of calories. Therefore, they should be used sparingly - on average, do not eat more than 60 to 80 g of fat per day.
  • Sweets and sugar are very popular. However, their energy is burned quickly and should therefore be enjoyed only moderately.

For a varied and balanced diet, it is advisable to set up the diet according to the principles of the food pyramid.

The myth of lack

It is often said that vegetarian diets are one-sided and vegetarianism is deficient. This is not correct though. Although meat provides energy, protein, iron and zinc, it is not a necessary component of a balanced diet. Vegetarians can feed optimally if they choose their food carefully and use the food pyramid to make their diet balanced and varied.

Vegetarians should be careful to consume enough vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium and protein. An average active person usually needs 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Deficiency symptoms are z. As reduced body weight, lower exercise capacity, calcium or vitamin D deficiency and thus an increased risk of osteoporosis, zinc and iron deficiency, less immune-active cells, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Alternative foods for vegetarians

In most supermarkets there are now vegetarian corners, in the vegetarian Schnitzel, sausages, cold cuts and spreads are offered. These products greatly simplify vegetarian life because they can be used instead of meat. This makes it very easy and convenient to cook the same meal for vegetarians and "meat eaters." Examples:

Soya products: Soybeans contain valuable fiber and essential amino acids. The most famous soy product is probably tofu. Tofu is made from soymilk and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Other products made from soy are tempeh (soy soft cheese) and miso (spice paste) - both are fermented soy products with a high protein content. Other examples are soy sauce, soy coffee, soy milk or soy flour.

Quorn: Quorn foods are mushroom products. They contain high quality protein and a lot of fiber. In addition to a low fat content, the Quorn specialties have little to no cholesterol, depending on the product type.

Seitan: Seitan is a wheat product. It consists of gluten-free white and is known from Chinese vegetarian cuisine. Seitan is made from wheat and the fats and carbohydrates are washed out under running water. Seitan contains almost 20% protein, no cholesterol and is low in fat and low in calories. It can be prepared and seasoned like meat.

Soy and wheat protein: The soy and wheat protein products are also called soy meat. They consist of soybeans and wheat. The nutrient-rich and high-fiber soybeans contain more than a third of high-quality protein when dried.

Vegetarianism: benefits

Vegetarian or mainly plant-based diets offer a number of health benefits, given certain rules:

  • The body weight can be normalized under such a diet, overweight can be broken down.
  • Civilization diseases as a result of a wrong diet and movement occur less often in vegetarians. These include, for example, high blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases.
  • Due to the reduced fat and cholesterol intake, an elevated cholesterol level can be rebalanced.
  • Constipation and the associated risks of a sequelae such. As colon cancer, are reduced by the high-fiber diet.

Disadvantages of vegetarian diet

Vegetarian and predominantly plant-based food has - especially with vegans - but a few disadvantages:

  • In the case of a vegetarian diet, a large part of the food is consumed in its natural state - this also increases the risk of food allergies, which can be one of the disadvantages of vegetarianism.
  • Vegetarians sometimes consume too little protein. In order to prevent deficiency supply and thus disadvantages, a high proportion of legumes (in particular soybeans, nuts, other seed fruits) must be taken into account.
  • With regard to the supply of minerals, trace elements and vitamins - especially in a strictly vegetarian way of life - there are problems that can be disadvantages. Iron, iodine, vitamin B12 and calcium are to be mentioned here. Therefore, pay attention to a suitable food selection.

Conclusion on vegetarianism

From a nutritional point of view, the ovo-lacto diet is recommended as a permanent diet and to advocate for civilization diseases such as obesity and hypertension. A prerequisite is, however, a good knowledge of the nutritional value of the food and a careful food selection and combination to meet the need for basic nutrients, vitamins and minerals. But this should not just apply to vegetarians.

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