Vegetarian Foods – Introduction
Vegetarian foods have increased in popularity. There are people who are vegetarians because of religious, ethical, cultural and even ecological reasons. People are increasingly becoming vegetarians for health benefits. There are several reasons for the vegetarian food style which is otherwise seen as a healthier way of eating. Vegetarians are people who abstain from consuming meat such as red meat, poultry, seas food or flesh from animals and at times even from consuming by-products of animals and animal products.
Reasons For Being Vegetarian
There are religious reasons for being vegetarian. There are religions such as sects of Hinduism that teach that being vegetarian is a moral conduct and as beneficial for developing compassion. The Abrahamic religions of Judaic, Muslim and Christian are all having rigid alienations to the Garden of Eden as in the Bible referring to the vegetarian diet.
Most religions world over are having some form of golden rule that at times that extends to include people who are not necessarily religious but have spiritual belief of the vegetarian foods. There is a common reason that for one to obtain meat, there has to be a forced killing whereas plods can be harvested without bloodshed. The logic in this case is that there is more violence implicated with being non vegetarian. Consequently, considering the quantity of vegetative matter needed to rare animals, the non vegetarians destroy far more plants than do vegetarians.
Those who eat vegetarian foods, vegetarians, are having a low mortality and they are benefiting from reduced incidences of several non-communicable diseases including diabetes and heart disease. Vegetarian foods brings down risks of cancer though when poorly planned may lead to platelet disorders and hyperhomocysteinemia. These are disorders that are likely to be offset by ensuring that there is adequate consuming of vitamin B12 as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Vegetarian foods are mostly rich in fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins that are responsible for strengthening the immune system as well as slowing down the aging process. Vegetarian foods as well prevent and even reverse given chronic diseases and as thus it makes sense that vegetarians are deemed to have a longer life span compared to non-vegetarians.
Another health reason for being vegetarian is that there are pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses that are mainly common with animals. Indeed there are microorganisms in plant foods as well but their number and danger to human health is by large not comparable to that in meat and animal products.
There are a number of ethical reasons that people opt to be vegetarians. The ethical reasons include: eating meat supports cruelty to animals as in the factory farms; for instance, the animals kept there are in cramped, cruel and oppressive conditions as they are hardly allowed to breed among themselves or engage in anything that is natural and important to them.
The other ethical reason for eating vegetarian food is because it helps animals and at the same time helps the global poor. It is criminally wasteful to grow vegetable matter so as to feed animals that are raised for meat instead of growing the vegetarian matter to feed the hungry people in the world.
Another ethical reason is that animal agriculture is not good for the environment as raising of animals needs massive quantities of land, energy as well as water. To produce 1 pound of chicken requires up to about 4 pounds of vegetable matter such as grains. This shows a high degree of inefficiency and the globe losses most of its vegetation unnecessarily.
Common Vegetarian Foods
- Legumes include food such as kidney beans, peas, lentils, soya, and haricot among others. Legumes provide about 8 grams of protein per half cup of legume. Legumes are generally delicious even when simply prepared. Two or more servings a day of legumes provide a good source of fiber, iron, zinc, calcium as well as vitamins.
- Nuts include pecan nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistaccio nuts and cashew nuts among other nuts. Nuts are generally nutritious and healthy. Nuts are excellent sources of proteins, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating nuts, despite them being high in nuts, provides a sense of satisfaction and fullness that causes people to eat les of other foods high in calories and fat foods. As thus, vegetarians do not miss out on fats from meat as they get healthy fats and amino acids from nuts.
- Seeds include seeds of pumpkins, sesames, flax, sunflowers and poppy among others. Consuming seeds provides a great way of adding vitamins, fiber, minerals as well as fatty acids that are essential such the omega 6 ones diet. Consuming seeds ensures that vegetarians do not miss essential aspects of nutrition in their diets. Seeds as well contain plant sterols that are believed to help in keeping cholesterol levels in check and bring down the risk of cancer.
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is as well referred to as textured soy protein, soya chunks or even soy meat. TVP is made from soy flour which is produced after extracting soybean oil and it is a meat analogue. TVP provides vegetarians with an alternative protein source that is much better than meat.
Classification of Vegetarians
- Vegans: These are vegetarians who do not take any animal product or animal by-products
- Lacto Vegetarians: These are vegetarians who consume only dairy products but do not eat meat or other animal products other than dairy products.
- Ovo Vegetarians: These are vegetarians who eat only egg products.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians: These are vegetarians who only consume egg and dairy products. Pollotarian: These are vegetarians who only fowl and poultry products
- Pesco vegetarian: These are vegetarians who only consume fish and other seafood.
- Frutarian: They have a diet only made up of fruits including vegetables that are botanically classified as fruits include eggplant, avocados, zucchini and tomatoes.
- Macrobiotic Vegan: These are vegetarians whose diet consists mainly of vegetables but they occasionally have fish and other seafood.
- Semi-Vegetarian: Also referred to as flexitarian. The diet of semi-vegetarian is mainly vegetables but includes seafood, meat and poultry occasionally.
- Raw Vegan: The diet of a raw vegan entails raw vegetables and fruits as well as nuts, grains, legumes and seeds among others.
- Akers, K., & Singer, P. (1983). A vegetarian sourcebook. Vegetarian Press.
- Fox, Michael. “Deep vegetarianism.” (1999).
- Jabs, J., Devine, C. M., & Sobal, J. (1998). Model of the process of adopting vegetarian diets: Health vegetarians and ethical vegetarians. Journal of Nutrition Education, 30(4), 196-202.
- Ruby, M. B. (2012). Vegetarianism. A blossoming field of study. Appetite, 58(1), 141-150.