Vegetarianism

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The vegetarian diet is based on the philosopher Pythagoras and includes the teaching that humans should use only or mainly food of plant origin as food. There are various forms of vegetarian diet. There are also different reasons for vegetarianism and 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 or becoming a 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:

  • For one thing, play health aspects for vegetarians a large role and are also used as a therapeutic measure in civilization diseases z. B. Overweight used. If they start early enough, they can sometimes even prevent them.
  • Out nutritional perspective By a largely meat-free diet, the fat and protein intake is reduced, which also benefits the health, since most people absorb too much of these nutrients and thus risk long-term civilization diseases such. As diabetes, gout, lipid metabolism disorders, etc. to fall ill.
  • Other reasons for vegetarianism are z. B. the desire to reduce pollutant intake by targeted food choice or even ecological reasonsto conserve nature's natural resources.
  • Motivations for vegetarianism can also religious such as ethical nature (Do not kill animals for human existence) or just be able to smell the intolerance of meat.

nutrient composition

A diet where you omit meat, but can not be automatically healthy. Who as a vegetarian his food not correct compiles, risks deficiency symptoms and problems with absorption and digestion of nutrients. With a varied Vegetarian diet, however, gives many vegetarians a better state of health than "meat eaters." The main 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 500 g daily, as it contains many vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Cereal products and potatoes contain many carbohydrates. They should also be on the daily diet, as they are strong vegetarian diet and unlike fat significantly lower in calories.
  • milk and milkproducts 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 - These fats are more valuable from a nutritional point of view than animal fats because they contain valuable unsaturated fatty acids that have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Fats always deliver 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.
  • Sweet 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 want

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 requires 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Deficiency symptoms are z. As reduced body weight, lower exercise tolerance, 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:
Soy products: Soybeans contain valuable fiber and essential amino acids. The most famous soy product is probably tofu. Tofu is made from soy milk 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 sauces, 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 is made from 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 egg whites: 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 predominantly 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, hypertension 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.
  • Concerning the supply of minerals, trace elements and vitamins - especially in a strictly vegetarian way of life - problems arise, which 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. However, a good level of knowledge about the nutritional value of food and careful food selection and combination is needed to meet the need for basic nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This should not only apply to vegetarians.

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