A vegetarian is a person who only eats vegetarian dishes and not meat. Simply put, vegetarians can be roughly divided into two categories. One is vegetarians who refuse to eat animal meat, while the other is to refuse all animal foods, including eggs and dairy food, also known as a vegan.
Is it healthier to be a vegetarian?
There are many health benefits of being a vegetarian, such as keeping a lighter weight, lowering cholesterol content, reducing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, being free from the threat of parasites, reducing the burden on the stomach and kidneys, and increasing life span. However, if the diet is imbalanced for a long time, there will be a serious shortage of protein and fat, which can easily cause malnutrition. Eating vegetarian food for a long time can easily cause the body to lack nutrients such as iron and zinc.
How do vegetarians get the best nutrition?
The key to a healthy vegetarian diet is to eat a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, etc.
- vitamin B12: vitamin B12 is necessary for the hematopoietic process and the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal foods, and the vitamin B12 provided by spirulina and sea plants is inactive and poorly absorbed. For strict vegetarians, this can easily lead to severe vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to specific visual hallucinations, and VB12 deficiency can increase the level of homocysteine in the blood, thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is recommended that it be supplemented through a combination of commonly used vegetables and soy, or through supplements or additives. For lacto-ovo vegetarians, it is basically possible to obtain VB12 from milk and eggs.
- calcium: calcium is a necessary element for the growth and development of human bones. For those vegetarians who forbid dairy products, calcium deficiency is very common. One reason is that their intake is small, and the other is that the intake of plant foods contains more oxalic acid, which is easy to combine with calcium to form insoluble precipitated calcium oxalate . Lack of calcium, especially women, is prone to suffering from osteoporosis in middle age and old age. It is recommended to eat more calcium-rich soybeans, fresh vegetables, sesame, etc.
- Iron: Human red blood cells need ferrous iron. Plant foods only contain non-heme iron, which is not as easy to absorb as the iron of heme in meat. The body's absorption of iron from plant foods is poor, so although the iron content of vegetarian food is higher than that of meat food, the iron stock of vegetarians is lower. Iron deficiency can cause anemia. The suggestion is that whole grains can be used instead of iron-rich animal blood. Pay attention to different kinds of collocations, try not to eat foods that have been refined, such as white bread. Because iron must be assisted by vitamin C to be converted into the form of ferrous iron required for hematopoiesis, you can eat more VC-rich foods, such as raisins, red dates, and avoid eating with coffee and tea that hinder iron absorption.
- Zinc: Zinc is mainly found in seafood, such as oysters and raw oysters. The zinc content per kilogram of food, such as oysters and herring, are above 1000 mg, and meat, liver, and eggs are between 20 and 50 mg. Lack of zinc will affect children's development and immune function. The zinc intake of vegetarians is lower than that of non-vegetarians. It is recommended that vegans eat soy products, stone fruits or unfinished grains, and mustard greens.
- Vitamin D: Plant foods contain less VD, and lack of sufficient vitamin D will lead to a large loss of calcium, causing osteoporosis, rickets, and weak bone structure. It is recommended that ovo-lacto-vegetarians eat more eggs and dairy products or drink more milk to supplement vitamin D. If you are vegan, the more lazy way is to get more sun, because the human body can synthesize vitamin D by itself.
- Protein: Although vegetarians can obtain the same types of protein as non-vegetarians through plants, the quality of plant protein is lower than animal protein, which is reflected in the fact that lysine and other essential amino acids are less. Insufficient protein intake will reduce physical strength and the resistance to viruses will also weaken, and it will easily cause mental stress. It is manifested as a series of adverse symptoms such as low body functions, listlessness, lack of concentration, premature aging, dry skin, heart failure, and gray hair. It is recommended to substitute soy protein and match it with cereals.
- Fat: This is mainly for adolescents in the growth and development period. Insufficient fat intake will affect the brain's intellectual development. Long-term vegetarianism is more harmful to adolescents. It is recommended that vegetarians replace animal fats with vegetable fats. Foods such as vegetable oils, beans, soy products, and nuts are rich in vegetable fats and do not contain cholesterol and saturated fats, but are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which can effectively Prevent cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, fatty liver and tumors.
What kind of people are not recommended to be a vegetarian?
- Anemia patients
Anemia is mostly caused by lack of protein and iron, both of which are more abundant in meat. Therefore, people with anemia must eat meat, preferably red meat such as pork, beef, and lamb. Women should also eat meat during menstruation.
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers
The health of pregnant women is directly related to the growth and development of the fetus. During pregnancy, the mother's demand for nutrients such as protein, various vitamins, calcium and trace elements has greatly increased.
- Children and adolescents
Children and adolescents are in the crucial stage of growth and development. The body's protein synthesis should be greater than the decomposition, so it is necessary to use sufficient meat to ensure the protein supply to ensure the energy required for development.
- Seniors over 65
The decomposition of protein in the body of the elderly increases and the digestion ability is weakened, but the demand for micronutrients has not decreased. At this time, if the normal diet is suddenly changed to a vegan diet, it is very easy to cause a lack of protein, vitamins and minerals. It is easy to cause a series of health problems such as muscle atrophy and anemia.
- Tumor patients
Many people have a misunderstanding that eating meat for cancer patients will "supply" nutrition to tumor cells. But this is wrong thinking, because tumor is a wasting disease. Malnutrition will affect the effect of treatment and the progress of recovery. Patients undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy should increase their protein and vitamin intake to ensure that the body has sufficient resistance.