For many years we have been led to believe that eating meat is essential for health and development and for protein and calcium. However, recent research has begun to challenge this belief and many more people are now turning to vegetarianism to reduce the chances of food related health problems.
High consumption of meat has now been linked to colon cancer, alzheimer’s disease and heart problems, amongst other conditions, including inflammation in the gut which like a slow burning fire, wreaks havoc on the system, ageing the body faster than it should. Eating red meat for instance is difficult for the body to digest, so slows down other processes in the body in order to aid digestion. This is the reason you are often tired after a large meal (think Christmas in front of the TV).
It is however true that animal products are the only food group that contains vitamin B12, so if you are planning on becoming a vegetarian you should ensure that you either eat dairy and eggs, and/or add a daily B12 supplement.
Simply cutting out meat from the diet will result in low energy, tiredness and muscle fatigue. A poor choice of vegetarianism would include –
Cheese and tomato pizza, crisps, chocolate, cakes, crackers and beans on toast with a cup of tea or coffee.
Too many people turn to vegetarianism this way, cutting meat but failing to make important changes in their diets to support their bodies vital requirement of proteins, vitamin B12 and Amino Acids.
To become a healthy vegetarian you should –
- Add nuts (such as peanuts and almonds), seeds such as Chia, Hemp, Sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds to your diet
- Add pulses, whole grains and lentils
- Add dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
- Add green peas and shoots/sprouted grains
- Add quinoa and buckwheat, rice chickpeas and beans
- Include tofu produced from soy, as a high protein alternative to cheese or Edamame (straight from the soy bean pod) which makes a great meat substitute
- Include eggs and dairy into your diet. I would recommend goats or sheep produce as these are both easier for the body to digest than cow’s products
- Raw chocolate (or cacao powder) is also high in protein
In addition, you could add meaty alternatives to your meals including mushrooms as they have a meaty texture, and Quork (although this also contains wheat so eat in moderation)
Becoming a healthy vegetarian is not hard work, and if you adapt the above guidelines you and your body will not be left depleted.